chapter  9
Zooheterotopias – John Miller
Pages 16

John Miller e life and work of the Belgian zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans were notably unorthodox. Completing a doctorate on the teeth of the aardvark at the Free University of Brussels in 1939, he escaped four times from Nazi prisoner of war camps to make an unlikely living as a comedian and jazz singer in post-war Paris . It is his contribution to an esoteric branch of science, however, or perhaps more accurately pseudo-science, that constitutes his most prominent legacy. Heuvelmans’ zoological interests, as they were to develop throughout a proli c writing career, were concentrated on forms of life at the margins of conventional natural history, beings, he explained, ‘the existence of which is based only on testimonial or circumstantial evidence or on material proof judged insu cient by some’.1 His research was painstaking, but dealing with animals more usually con ned to the territory of the mythic and the fantastic inevitably placed him at a distance from institutional science. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he would never gain a formal university appointment. Nonetheless, he remained committed to the study of ambiguous animals (including, most famously, the yeti and the abominable snowman) and to the possible rediscovery of creatures ‘universally thought to be extinct’2 – dinosaurs, the mammoth and the New Zealand moa among others. By the time of his death in 2001 aged 84, Heuvelmans was widely honoured as the father of cryptozoology , a term he coined in the 1950s (although he later acknowledged that it had already been used by another creature seeker, the Scottish adventurer Ivan T. Sanderson ).