Abominable Science!: Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids

Loxton, Daniel; Prothero, Donald R.
Columbia UP 2013
ISBN 978-0-231-15320-1
393pp
Date finished: 2014-01-10

A historical survey of the major cryptozoological creatures -- Sasquatch and Yeti, Loch Ness Monster and sea serpents, and the supposed surviving dinosaur called Mokele Mbembe -- written from a skeptical point of view. The authors have done a prodigious amount of research on when these memes arose. One of the authors (Loxton) is a man after my own heart: he'd love for the creatures to be real because they'd make the world more interesting, but thinks the field doesn't meet scientific standards. The book emphasizes that cryptozoology has too much wishful thinking and reliance upon eyewitness evidence, and too rarely discards anecdotes that have been shown to be untrue.

The sea serpent has seniority, dating back to the medieval era but were modified to look more like plesiosaurs after we learned about them in the 19th century. Surprisingly most of the rest are 20th-century creations. Bigfoot/Sasquatch was invented around 1957 as a publicity stunt for the town of Harrison Hot Springs, BC; earlier references are unconfirmed or consist of rewriting First Nation legends to make them match the large ape-like cryptid. The Yeti's heyday was also in the 1950s, and the flap over Nessie was sparked by a newspaper story in 1933. I've read a fair number of books about cryptids, but much of Abominable Science! was material I didn't know. This book's completeness makes it a keeper.

Tagged: cryptozoology

Permalink: http://books.amk.ca/2014/01/Abominable_Science.html

%T Abominable Science!
%S Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids
%A Loxton, Daniel
%A Prothero, Donald R.
%W http://www.skepticblog.org/
%K cryptozoology
%G ISBN 978-0-231-15320-1
%I Columbia UP
%C New York
%P 393pp
%D 2013
%@ 2014-01-10
%* *

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