Cryptids or Ghosts?
When, with my teenage years looming, I became seriously fascinated by the subject of cryptozoology—the search for and study of mysterious, undocumented creatures such as Sasquatch, the Yeti, and the Loch Ness Monster—everything for me was very much black-and-white: Bigfoot and the Abominable Snowman were giant, as-yet-unclassified apes; the Loch Ness Monsters – I say “Monsters” rather than “Monster,” as encounters span more than a thousand years, effectively ruling out the possibility of just one creature being involved – were surviving relics from the Jurassic era; and the veritable menagerie of other amazing animals in our midst, including werewolves and sea-serpents, were simply creatures that science and zoology had yet to definitively classify.
Unknown or not, they were still flesh-and-blood creatures—or so I assumed. As time progressed, however, and as my teens became my twenties and then my thirties, my views began to change, and with very good reason. The beasts with which I had become obsessed as a child, I later came to realize, were not just strange: they were actually too strange.
Despite the fact that there have been literally thousands of sightings of Bigfoot within the dark forests of North America over the past several centuries, all attempts to identify, trap, or kill even one such animal have ended in complete and utter failure. Unlike just about every other living creature in the United States, Bigfoot has never had the misfortune of being hit by a car or truck and killed, nor has anyone ever stumbled across the corpse of one of these elusive animals. And there are countless cases on record in which people have attempted to shoot Bigfoot, but the bullets seem to have no effect on the animals whatsoever.
It’s much the same with the monsters of Loch Ness, Scotland. Although the Loch is sizeable—it is approximately 24 miles long, roughly a mile wide, and about 700 feet deep—it is hardly remote or inaccessible. Certainly, every year, tens of thousands of people flock to Scotland in the hope of seeing the elusive long-necked entities of those dark waters, and nearly all go home disappointed.
Ambitious projects designed to seek out the creatures with sonar and submarines have always failed to turn up anything conclusive. Attempts to photograph the animals, on the rare occasions they have surfaced from the murky depths, have often proved to be curiously problematic, as well: cameras jam at crucial moments, and photographs are inexplicably blurred or fogged.
Then there’s the matter of the eating habits of these mysterious beasts—or, more correctly, their overwhelming lack of eating habits. Bigfoot, given its immense size and build (eyewitness reports describe a creature eight feet tall and weighing an estimated 300 to 600 pounds), would likely require a massive intake of nourishment. After all, a fully-grown silverback gorilla requires a tremendous amount of food on a daily basis.
Imagine the amount of nourishment required by a whole colony of silverbacks! Indeed, one of the reasons why it is so easy to track the movements and activities of gorillas is not only because they are very social animals that live in groups, but also because of the clear and undeniable evidence of their massive, hour-by-hour efforts foraging for food. However, there is very little, if any, evidence of Bigfoot’s culinary delights.
Yes, there are very occasional reports of Bigfoot killing a pig here or a deer there, but for the most part the hard evidence of its eating habits—which, again, would have to be tremendous in nature—is conspicuously absent. Moreover, that Bigfoot is seen in locales hardly noted for their rich and abundant food supplies, such as the depths of the Nevada desert and West Texas, only adds to the high strangeness.
And it’s much the same with Loch Ness: if a large colony of plesiosaurs has managed to survive extinction and now calls the loch their home, how, exactly, are they sustaining their massive bulk? Yes, the Loch is populated by a number of kinds of fish, such as salmon, eel, pike, and trout, but the populations are most assuredly not in the numbers that would allow a school of 20 aquatic beasts, each 15 to 25 feet in length, to secure sufficient nourishment on a day-to-day basis to ensure their survival, health, and reproduction over the centuries.
In other words, while most, if not all of the many and varied creatures that fall squarely under the cryptozoological banner appear at first glance to be flesh-and-blood animals—albeit ones as-yet unclassified by science—upon careful study, their curious eating habits and activities suggest they are actually nothing of the sort. Indeed, given their elusiveness, they seem rather more spectral, ethereal, and phantom-like in nature.
Could it be the case that some of the strange and fantastic monsters that plague and perplex people all across the world on dark, windswept nights, within thick woods, and amid the cold waters of ancient lochs and lakes are far less—or, paradoxically, far more—than they appear to be?
With that above-question in mind, I’ll leave you with another question to ponder upon: Are our monsters actually ghosts?