The Meaning of Cryptozoology

by Loren Coleman

"Cryptozoology," of course, was coined by Dr. Bernard Heuvelmans in his personal correspondence among colleagues in the 1950s, after the 1955 French publication of his book On the Track of Unknown Animals. The first published use of the word "cryptozoology" was in 1959 when a book by Lucien Blancou was dedicated to "Bernard Heuvelmans, master of cryptozoology." (See the International Society of Cryptozoology's journal, Cryptozoology #3, page 21.) Since 1982, Bernard Heuvelmans has written extensively in the journal Cryptozoology on his current thoughts defining and redefining "cryptozoology."

Meanwhile, ISC's Vice President Dr. Roy Mackal has written: "...the term 'cryptozoology' seems to me particularly appropriate, coming as it does from the Greek work *kryptos*, meaning 'hidden.' 'unknown,' 'secret,' 'enigmatic,' 'mysterious'; hence literally the study of hidden animals" (Searching for Hidden Animals, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1980, p. xi).

Dr. Karl Shuker has noted that "cryptozoology" is "literally translated as 'the study of hidden life'" (The Lost Ark, London: HarperCollins, 1993, p. 11), perhaps thus too broadly encompassing plants and other nonanimal forms.

From my discussions with Richard Greenwell (ISC Sec.) and Bernard Heuvelmans (ISC Pres), as well as with various directors on the ISC Board, the general feeling is that an important element in the study of hidden animals as envisioned in current cryptozoology is the input of local, native, explorer, and traveler traditions, sightings, tales, legends and folklore of the as-yet unverified animals. It is for this very reason that most, but not all, of the animals under pursuit are large ones.

Therefore, not too simply, cryptozoology is the study of hidden animals (whether large or small), to date not formally recognized by what is often termed Western science or formal zoology but supported in some way by testimony (in its broadest definition) from a human being.