Jan 012010

*originally printed in Red Shtick Magazine – January, 2010

Cryptozoology is the study of animals that elude study because they are so elusive. In many cases, these animals are so brilliantly elusive because they have developed the evolutionary advantage of not existing.

Nonexistence is perhaps the most effective biological defense against predators and disease, and it provides an advantage in gathering resources because none are required. There are, in fact, very few drawbacks to not existing, and most successful cryptospecies have adopted this strategy for survival.

The nonexistent animals studied in cryptozoolgy are called “cryptids,” and those individuals who study cryptozoology are called cryptozoologists, or just “creepy.” Since no formal education exists for the study of nonexistent animals, those who conduct research in this field are self-trained, so they often find themselves at odds with the scientific community.

Mainstream science accepts that there are many species that have yet to be identified or classified. However, most of these creatures are difficult to find because they are very small and quite boring, like bacteria and insects.

Most cryptozoologists are more interested in large, nonexistent animals, or megafauna cryptids. Megafauna are big ole critters that make more interesting cryptids because they are more easily seen in out-of-focus pictures, make indistinct noises that can be recorded from far away, and might occasionally attack and/or eat people in a manner that can translate into fantastic headlines and television shows.

A recent television series called Lost Tapes aired on Animal Planet. This series capitalized on the public’s desire to be frightened into distraction from things that are truly frightening, such as the economy, the government, and the generally psychotic behavior of the public.

Lost Tapes purported to expose cryptids as diverse as chupacabre, the giant anaconda, vampires, werewolves, and even the legendary Mothman. The popularity of this series was largely due to the common misunderstanding that the series was anything but fiction. Many viewers remain convinced that the well-composed cinematic suspense of the series was the result of amateur camera work done by average people while experiencing pant-soiling terror in the face of horrifying unknown creatures.

Throughout history, cryptids have been an inseparable part of human culture. From the universally recognized form of the dragon to the highly localized jackalope, cryptids are somehow everywhere, and nowhere.

Some cryptids are eventually exposed as outright hoaxes. Notable among this category are the dinosaurs, which have been proven to be nothing more than fake bones buried by publishers of high school science textbooks.

Many cryptids are simply misidentifications of known species, or those thought to be extinct, such as Big Bird, which was eventually identified as a bird wearing a man suit wearing a bird suit.

Occasionally, a cryptid turns out to be a living animal. Such was once the case of the Komodo dragon, the giant squid, and me.

The majority of cryptids remain simply “unconfirmed.” To become “confirmed,” the existence of a cryptid must be verified. Verification can be achieved by overwhelming photographic evidence, the capture of living or dead specimens, or by an interview with Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air.

The king of all cryptids is unquestionably the mighty sasquatch, also known as Big Foot. Sasquatch is a bipedal, apelike creature, best known for being reclusive and hairy, having large feet, and being a moderately competent but very enthusiastic drummer.

Though sasquatch are native to North America, similar versions of this creature are recognized on nearly every continent. The most noted cousin of sasquatch is a Tibetan creature known as Yeti, the abominable snowman, or honky sasquatch.

Sasquatch is perhaps the most interesting cryptid because it bears such a striking resemblance to man. Based on anatomical descriptions, sasquatch may be the closest genetic relative of Homo sapiens.

If this were true, it would boost mankind’s self-esteem quite a bit. At present, our closest genetic relative is the poo-flinging chimpanzee. Though chimps can be cute and amusing even while throwing poo, they are actually one of nature’s most accomplished species of rapists and murderers.

Though the sasquatch is still technically considered a cryptid, evidence that sasquatch exist has become ever more convincing. So much evidence exists that the only remaining formality in the hunt for sasquatch is finding one and putting it in a zoo.

Photographic and video evidence of sasquatch is so abundant that anyone who denies the existence of sasquatch is more than likely a sasquatch himself, trying to cover up for the growing number of more celebrity-minded sasquatch.

The sasquatch was historically a very reclusive species. It was not until 1967 that the paparazzi team of Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin finally caught a sasquatch on film. These 952 frames of grainy film introduced the world to sasquatch and inadvertently gave sasquatch a first, sweet taste of the spotlight.

The footage spread like wildfire. Most sasquatch were very upset about the publicity and redoubled their efforts to remain hidden from humans.

A few other sasquatch, however, were more upset because of their inability to collect substantial royalties from the amateur film. Before long, a small group of sasquatch found representation and were almost immediately cast as extras in the 1968 film Planet of the Apes. Following the success of this film, Stanley Kubric gave them cameo roles in his epic 2001: A Space Odyssey.

For two decades, these talented sasquatch were content with small parts, usually accepting roles as apes and/or hairy humanoid creatures.

In 1987, everything changed when a sasquatch was finally given the lead role in a film. A sasquatch best known by his stage name, John Lithgow, shaved himself from head to toe and played the part of George Henderson in the family comedy Harry and the Hendersons.

Several sasquatch auditioned for the role of Harry, but none could get the nuance needed for an “onscreen” sasquatch. The role of Harry was given to Kevin Peter Hall, who was actually a predator alien and later landed the role of the predator in Predator.

Since Lithgow’s success, few other sasquatch have made significant inroads as mainstream celebrities, though many earn respectable livings as stunt actors, extras, and in grip/electric departments.

Recently, a sasquatch gained some recognition for playing percussion with the Jack Black/Kyle Gass duo known as Tenacious D. This was a very short-lived collaboration, though the band remains on friendly terms with sasquatch.

Now, for the one or two people who might remember that this article was supposed to be the second in a two-part proof of the existence of “ghostquatch,” I offer the following conciliation: none.

Hey, be grateful for the limited cohesion these articles have on their own; don’t look for too much continuity from issue to issue.

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