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NO CRYPTOZOOLOGY HERE PLEASE



This is NOT the place to discuss cryptozoology and all of its 
accompanying speculations: go to cz@onelist.com - I will subscribe 
anyone if they cannot subscribe themselves.

While I will try to do everyone a favour here and not embark on a 
grand tour of cryptozoological methodology and philosophy, please 
bear in mind two important facts; (1) virtually all cryptozoological 
speculations are based on negative evidence. For example, in a 
recent article (which quotes many of my ideas, taken from personal 
correspondence) Karl Shuker (1998) asserted that, since no one has 
demonstrated that extant plesiosaurs do *not* exist, then they may 
well exist. In an article reviewing reports of gigantic size in 
_Architeuthis_, Richard Ellis (1998) recently noted that, similarly, 
the approach of Bernard Heuvelmans - with regard to such things as 
200 ton (!!!*@!!) _Architeuthis_ and extant sauropods - seems to be 
that, since we cannot prove that these things do *not* exist, then it 
is possible that they do. 

As Tom noted in a previous post, this is unscientific 
and untenable. I cannot prove that the computer room in which I am 
now sitting is >not< filled with assorted invisible floating 
serpents, goblins, and The Caretaker from Star Trek: Voyager, but I 
cannot assume that they are therefore there nonetheless (and, like 
cryptids, these computer room manifestations do have eyewitness data 
as their only form of verification:)). Also, there is The Bo Derek 
Hypothesis. It works like this: I think Bo Derek is in my room. I 
look in the cupboards, behind the curtains, and under the bed, but 
she is not there. Have I proved that Bo Derek is not in my room? I 
think I have. (I forget the name of the guy who created this 
hypothesis - - I do recall he is an Australian zoologist). 

(2) To paraphrase myself (post to the cryptozoology discussion group, 
1998): Cryptozoology has seen every whacky theory under the sun, 
from surviving eurypterids and trilobites to rhino-sized frogs and 30 
ft salamanders. Like vertebrate palaeontology, the subject seems to 
attract all manner of poorly-informed guessworkers who clutch madly 
at straws and invent impossible scenarios while unequipped with any 
of the detailed knowledge they might need to make intelligent 
judgements, and unaware of most of the serious work that has been 
done in the field. An in-depth and wide-ranging knowledge of zoology 
is needed if one is to make judgements on cryptozoological subjects.

An important, but not at all difficult to understand, correlation 
that one may note is that, NO ONE who works on, for example, 
plesiosaurs, basilosaurids, non-avian dinosaurs, mosasauroids etc etc 
etc supports the survival of any of these forms to the present. 
WHEREAS those who _do_ support the hypothesised survival of these 
forms to the present do _not_ work on the animals, nor seem to be 
well informed as regards knowledge associated with them. Prof. Roy 
Mackal, widely acknowledged as leading proponent of the 'surviving 
basilosaur' school, was recently quoted (Coleman 1998) as saying that 
basilosaurs swam all over the world 80 million years ago, for 
example, while Richard Greenwell and Karl Shuker have both argued 
that, since endothermy has been proposed for dinosaurs, then the 
theoretical existence of high-latitude extant plesiosaurs is not a 
physiological problem. 

(As a caveat, I note that Alan Charig was not entirely dismissive 
of cryptozoological views, and that Eric Buffetaut is on the ISC's 
governing board and even contributed a paper to the journal 
_Cryptozoology_ - he pointed out that limited vertical flexure was 
present in thallatosuchians, so vertically flexing cryptids are not 
necessarily mammalian).

Finally, Chad Laibly wrote..

>  Ceolocanth..........
>  1. No recent fossil record.
>  2. Small surviving population
>  3. Considered an "impossible" survivor until recently...

Coelacanths (Actinistia) are the ultimate in red herrings (pun 
intended) and they do not serve as good models for the post-Mesozoic 
survival of Mesozoic marine reptiles. Importantly, coelacanths are 
fish that live in deep water channels, and they are fish of about 1 m 
in length. Theoretical surviving Mesozoic marine reptiles are upwards 
of 5 m in length, global in distribution, and surface-frequenting. 
Also, coelacanths have 3 post-Mesozoic fossil occurences; (1) 
Palaeocene of Denmark; (2) Miocene of Israel; (3) Present of Comoro 
Islands and other areas around east African-Magagascan coast 
(occurences of extant coelacanths around American, Mexican and 
possibly Spanish coasts have not been verified). The only 
post-Mesozoic marine reptile occurrences are reworked bits and 
pieces: nothing that demonstrates their post-K survival, in contrast 
to coelacanths. Mesozoic marine reptiles flourish at high diversity 
in the latest K, then go out with a bang, leaving no survivors. 
Coelacanths, in marked contrast, dwindle slowly down from about 25 
mid-K species down to 1 or 2 for the end third of the Cretaceous, 
then continue for the Cainozoic at the same low diversity. Mesozoic 
marine reptiles and coelacanths are in no way comparable, and all 
evidence proves that Mesozoic marine reptiles are extinct.

"Close your eyes children - he may take on another form!"

DARREN NAISH
darren.naish@port.ac.uk