Bill Adams, the university’s Moran Professor of Conservation and Development, and visiting Department of Geography researcher Shane McCorristine say cryptozoology as it’s called can be a force of good.
The pair published a lengthy article explaining how the hunt for cryptids can “contribute to conservation in several ways”.
One reason they cited is that there are still a huge number of “undescribed” animals around the world. For example, more than 400 new mammals have been identified since 1993.
There are thought to be a huge number of undiscovered species around the world. The pair said in their article, titled ‘How the search for mythical monsters can help conservation in the real world’: “Cryptozoology involves rampant speculation and unconventional surveying methods.
“But controversial new ‘findings’ can inspire a renewed quest to better map out the natural world.”
As an example they pointed to the case of the spiral-horned ox, a cryptid where the debate around it “pulled together historic accounts, local folklore, and samples of museum specimens”.
They said this is often something that the field of cryptozoology does.
Adams and McCorristine also said that cryptozoology should be respected because of its “shared history” with conservation, which it has evolved alongside of over the years.
They pointed out that several prominent conservationists have been interested in cryptozoological ideas and processes over the years, often with a view to helping promote conservation of areas said to contain legendary creatures.
The third reason they gave for why cryptozoology could be helpful was through promoting “the sense of wonder”.
They said: “Stories of the discovery and rediscovery of species routinely punctuate the depressing catalogue of extinction after extinction. Wonder and speculation – however untethered – must play a role in energising conservation actions.
“Although no one expects conservation NGOs to start searching for Bigfoot, it would be remiss of them to ignore the powerful ecological imagination that can be inspired by cryptozoology.”