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Introduction

I’m not alone. According to an Angus Reid Public Opinion poll, 29 percent of Americans believe Bigfoot is real, and 24 percent of Scots are as convinced of the existence of the Loch Ness Monster. A 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll showed 30 percent of Americans believe in extraterrestrials and 33 percent believe in ghosts. A Gallup poll showed 18.8 percent of the American public is convinced Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster will eventually be discovered. There are people out there, traipsing around forests and searching the depths of the world’s lakes searching for these beasts. They are cryptozoologists (from the Greek kryptos, which means “hidden,” and zoion, which means “animal”). Although usually not taken seriously by science, cryptozoologists do have an important job because at one point, all animals were unknown. European scientists didn’t see a living okapi until 1901, a mountain gorilla until 1902, a giant panda until 1916, a Congo peacock until 1936, and a megamouth shark until 1976. There are between fifteen thousand and eighteen thousand new species (half of them insects) identified every year. However, the most famous cryptid find is the coelacanth. According to science at the time, this six-and-a-half-foot-long saltwater fish became extinct about sixty-six million years ago. But on December 22, 1938, Captain Hendrick Goosen called South African museum curator Marjorie Eileen Doris Courtenay-Latimer (that name’s a mouthful) to come look at a strange fish he’d caught. She went to Goosen and couldn’t believe what she saw—the fish was a coelacanth. Take that, science. If all these once unknown creatures exist, why couldn’t something like Bigfoot? You know, a possible remnant Gigantopithecus, a possible remnant Neanderthal, a possible unknown

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Chasing American Monsters, by Jason Offutt  

From Alabama to Wyoming and every state in between, the United States is crawling with monsters lurking in the dark corners, just waiting fo...

Chasing American Monsters, by Jason Offutt  

From Alabama to Wyoming and every state in between, the United States is crawling with monsters lurking in the dark corners, just waiting fo...

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