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Cryptozoology is the study or search for previously unknown or hidden animals. Belief in unknown and new animals has existed for a very long time, as evidenced by mankind's fascination with demons, dragons, and dinosaurs. Peter the Great for example, believed the Wooly Mammoth could still be alive and organised expeditions to find it.

The serious study of the fauna of earth, what is called Zoology, was first established in the 1500's, and has since catalogued most of the animals on Earth. Cryptozoology, means "the study of hidden and unknown life."  The animals that Cryptozoologists search for are referred to as "cryptids". Cryptozoology is best seen as a sub-group of Zoology, though it currently lacks acceptance as a science by the scientific community.

For the most part, Zoology started off with the large creatures, and worked its way down to the smallest. Large well known organisms like humans and other large mammals were classified quickly. Over time Zoology began looking for new species on an ever smaller and smaller scale as it became popular belief that all large species had already been found and identified. Traditional Zoology expects to identify new species in two ways:

1. The investigation of habitats not yet fully explored eg: rain forests, the oceans.
2. Studying tiny life forms, such as insects and the even smaller microscopic critters.

Cryotozoology differs from zoology in that it is generally not interested in studying species that have already been identified, nor is it interested in small animal lifeforms, Cryptozoologists investigate evidence for the existence of large animals that are either presently scientifically unknown or presumed extinct. Cryptozoologists look for creatures like sea serpents and  bigfoot, hoping to gather enough evidence to prove that these beings exist. They also look for more commonplace animals, such as the ivory-billed woodpecker, the giant vampire bat, the inflatable hedgehog and the pygmy elephant.

Cryotozoology has had some spectacular success stories, including the pongo (now known as the gorilla), the okapi (an animal that looks like a cross between a giraffe and zebra), the coelacanth (a prehistoric fish thought to be extinct) and many others.

By its very nature Cryotozoology takes in some very strange territory, and often rubs shoulders with UFO's,  folklore & the paranormal. This is part of the reason I think the scientific community shuns Cryotozoology. The fact there have been frequent hoaxes in the field must also turn away the scientists.

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