Monday, August 10, 2015

From Blobsquatches to Bodies: The Dawn of a New Era

One of the quintessential aspects of cryptozoology as it is currently practiced by the majority of researchers worldwide is undoubtedly the tendency to rely on blurry, indistinct photographs and videos to provide evidence for the existence of cryptids. This tendency is so pervasive, in fact, that new words have been coined to describe it in recent years; for example, "blobsquatch" is a term used to describe an entity in an image or video that is alleged to be a Sasquatch, but is too blurry to identify properly. However, in my opinion, this confidence in photography is sadly misplaced.

I propose that, instead of spending hours attempting to get a photo or a video of a mystery animal, cryptozoologists should instead focus their efforts on locating and retrieving tangible biological evidence, such as a carcass. Please note that I am not against cryptid photography; Pictures and videos can be very intriguing, and can be useful to cryptozoological investigators in the sense that they help to provide a general idea of what a creature looks like, and can serve as a framework to help cryptozoologists find physical evidence. However, it should be emphasized that pictures or videos, on their own, are insufficient evidence to prove the existence of a new species. The only thing that can do that is a type specimen, either dead or alive.

So if cryptozoologists should not attempt to prove the existence of their elusive quarry using photographic and video evidence, then what should they be doing instead? In my opinion, they should be attempting to secure biological material (a carcass, a skeleton, a piece of tissue, a living animal, etc.) There are myriad methods of doing so, and innovative cryptozoologists can often devise their own unique methods. For example, as I mentioned in my last article, Roy Mackal devised a plan to use biopsy harpoons to obtain a tissue sample from one of the Loch Ness cryptids. While Mackal never had an opportunity to use the harpoons, they were still an important innovation in the hunt for Nessie, and I have a feeling that innovative devices such as biopsy harpoons might potentially represent the future of cryptozoology.

With modern advances in genetics that have occurred since then (the human genome having been mapped in 2003, and many other species' genomes since then), it might even be possible to obtain a tissue sample from either a living animal or a carcass, and test its DNA to attempt to determine its zoological affinities.

To reiterate, I propose that we should begin a new era in cryptozoology, where, instead of attempting to rely on blurry photographs and videos to prove the existence of cryptids, we focus on finding physical evidence, and using modern biological methods (such as DNA testing) to identify and classify them. It is the 21st century, and if we want cryptozoology to really come in from the cold (as Nature editor Henry Gee stated in 2004), then we need to start using up-to-date scientific methods in our search for cryptids. In other words, we should start thinking in terms of bodies, rather than blobsquatches. So if there are any cryptozoological researchers reading this article who still believe that blurry, indistinct photographs and videos such as blobsquatches are good evidence for the existence of cryptids, I urge you to reconsider your thoughts and begin searching for tangible biological evidence instead. From blobsquatches to bodies, a revolution is afoot, and I urge all cryptozoologists to join us.

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