If there is one thing that can be said with a high degree of accuracy when it comes to the matter of Cryptozoology, it’s that certain types of unknown creature are seen time and again, regardless of location. They are: (a) large anomalous cats; (b) oversized hounds with paranormal overtones; (c) huge, winged creatures; (d) lake-monsters; and (e) unidentified ape-like animals. But why should such a small, and clearly delineated, body of archetypes dominate the field of Cryptozoology? Read on…
Some time ago I did an interview with Jon Downes, of the Center for Fortean Zoology, on the matter of this very question. Jon related to me an utterly fascinating theory that he and the CFZ’s Richard Freeman have developed. Since, in my view at least, Jon’s words are of profound importance, I’m going to turn matters over to him.
Jon begins: “Richard noticed that wherever he went on an expedition, the same types of mystery animal were being reported. As just one of many examples, he was in Thailand in 2000 and came back telling me that, as well as the Naga – this giant snake he was looking for, and which is analogous to the western dragon, and perhaps lake-monsters as well – there were sightings of a Bigfoot-type of hairy beast, a large and mysterious golden cat, and a large winged thing, very much like the Owlman of Cornwall. Everywhere you go, there is what Richard calls a ‘global template’ for monsters.
“And, me and Richard have looked into this very deeply, and you basically have got the same types of paranormal mystery animals reported all over the world, and in nearly each and every culture. There are the big, hairy, ape-like creatures. You have the little, hairy, ape-like creatures. You have phantom black dogs, phantom big cats, dragons and lake-monsters, and you have the large, flying things. So, we were looking for a unifying theory behind all this.”
And it’s now that we come to the heart of that unifying theory, again thanks to Jon: “Richard and me have concluded that you have to go back to when the Human Race was a bunch of a couple of thousand, small, hairy creatures walking around on the plains of East Africa. And every man, woman and child on the planet is descended from these same, little, hairy creatures.
“At that time, there would have been a lot of things that would have scared the hell out of them, and which they would have been in mortal danger from, such as large, wild hunting dogs, and big cats of that era. They may even have been in dire danger from their own relatives, such as the smaller, stronger, hairy men, and the larger, and now-extinct, primitive, giant apes.
“They would have also been in danger from crocodiles and possibly very large birds, too, which the fossil record shows did exist – very large. All of these things would have provoked a ‘fight or flight’ response in our ancestors. And all of these types of creature are present in today’s world as mystery animals.
“Richard and I believe the memories of these creatures, and our ancestors’ experiences with them, and fear of them, have become hardwired into our subconscious as a kind of fossil memory. And when I say ‘our’ I mean everyone. It’s in all of us, whether we know it or not. And that, under certain circumstances, something can make your brain reboot to that primitive state, and perhaps create images of those primitive creatures our ancestors lived in fear of.
“This is, we believe, in much the same way as when your computer reboots it first goes back to its most primitive state, no matter how many programs you might be running when it crashes and needs to reboot. And, we think that when this happens to the human brain, you can experience one of those archetypal, primal fears, in the form of a dragon, a big cat, a black dog, and even the large hairy man-beast.”
A fascinating theory, certainly, but what might make the human brain reboot in the fashion that Jon describes? Once again, he has some specific theories and ideas with which Richard accords:
“The human brain is, basically, an incredibly sophisticated computer. And one of the things that make computers reboot from time to time is an electrical power surge. I think it’s very interesting that in places where the British Bigfoot has been seen, such as at Bolam Lake in 2003, we had an enormous amount of electrical equipment fail on us. This was equipment that was tested in Devon before we left, and even on the day before I had my encounter, and it all worked perfectly – until we got to the lake. The idea of power-failures in Fortean situations goes back to John Keel, et al, and is very well known.
“We also found there were strange magnetic anomalies at the lake, too. And when we got back to Devon we found there were veins of magnetic iron-ore underneath that very part of the country. And we’re wondering if these weird magnetic anomalies, caused by perfectly natural phenomena, can affect, or interfere with, the human brain, and cause it to reboot to that most primitive stage, and those very primitive, fossil memories – as me and Richard call them – of all these various types of archetypal creatures in Cryptozoology, and you can experience one of these great primal fears.”
Doubtless there will be those who vehemently disagree with the views of Jon and Richard. I say, however, that it’s a fascinating theory that most assuredly deserves a solid hearing. Thoughts, anybody?