Jonathan Downes has been asking guest bloggers to write about their favourite cryptids. I have sent Jon this and thought I could put it here as well. Maybe it will encourage others to write about their experiences and their favourites.
My interest with cryptozoology started with visits to Loch Ness in the late 60’s and early 70’s. An impressionable teenager escaping from school and allowed to roam free, I met some wonderful characters such as Frank Searle , Dan Scott Taylor and Tim Dinsdale, plus some years an assortment of students, which was a great attraction to a teenage girl. Both Dan and Tim were real gentlemen, and I kept in touch with Dan on and off over the years until his death. I was supposed to meet up with Dan at his next visit to Loch Ness to see the new submarine, sadly this was not to be. Frank, well Frank was I think a showman, and I had the sense never to venture into his territory alone, he was also a ladies man. He like the others has also sadly passed away.
Loch Ness is surrounded by trees and bushes and not as easy to observe as people think. Those dark waters, scared me and thrilled me all at the same time and I would imagine the Loch Ness Beastie swimming in it’s waters. I corresponded with Nicholas Witchell when his book came out and spent a summer just observing the Loch, as he had. In the 60’s and 70’s a plesiosaur seemed a likely candidate for the creature but as I got older and learnt to do my own research, I realised it was unlikely as the loch had only been formed for about 10000 years. Undeterred I have spent many hours by the Loch over the years and even once took a job for a year in the area so I could spend more time there. What is in there? Maybe Retired Professor Robert Rhines is right and the last Nessie is now dead. He hopes to find remains at the bottom of the loch. I think the similarity of so many lake sightings around the world means something is going on and something ,whether an optical illusion or a real animals there and in other lakes , and one day some tangible evidence will be found.
The other cryptid that interested me in those days and has continued to do so since, was the Yeti. Tales told by mountain climbers of seeing the footprints and hearing the sounds and then the film with Peter Cushing in black and white, scarred me for life, I had to learn more. The Yeti , a sort of mountain Bigfoot, was supposed to be sacred and talked of in hushed voices. The local’s name for the Yeti is metoh-kangmi, a term that was mistakenly translated into English as “abominable snowman.” This is a name that has stuck. Sir Edmund Hillary , the mountaineer, was said to believe in it and then changed his mind and said it was a legend, after testing a so called Yeti scalp he got from a monastery and finding it to from a known animal. There have been reports coming back to England since 1832 of the Yeti, seen by British travellers and army personnel. Something is up there and whatever it is walks about in bare feet so must be immune to the cold .Can anyone really think climbers will take off their boots to leave fake footprints in the snow? They would lose said toes to frost bite.
The world has moved on a lot since those heady days, when belief was enough to mount an expedition .The last few years ,I have taken an interest in snakes, fascinating creatures and would love one except either the cat would eat it or it would eat the cat !The stories of giant snakes have always had my interest. From old Tarzan films to the more modern film Anaconda I love to watch the giant snakes. Could they exist? Well recent fossils found and named Titanboa in honour of its immense size, show that for 10 million years the giant snake was the largest land predator on earth. There are anacondas and pythons reported today up to 30 feet long. The reports since the 1800’s of giant snakes excite the imagination and Sir Percy Fawcett set off to find one and never returned. As a youngster I thought perhaps it found him and ate him. I think it is the romance of the giant snake that appeals, the Victorian type explorers in the jungles and swamps of Africa, South America and even the Everglades, searching for the unknown.
So cryptozoology, romantic, exciting, and full of unknowns and the chance of new discoveries , what more could a person want ?