The term ‘cryptid’ is a relative newcomer to the English lexicon, coined as recently as 1983, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, to take the place of ‘sensational and often misleading terms like “monster”’. As a noun, ‘cryptid’ appears in popular science writing to refer to such ‘improbable animals’ (Museum Accepts Cryptic Collection 1999: 1079) as the coelacanth (thought to have gone extinct millions of years ago but found to exist), the Tasmanian tiger (now listed as extinct but still allegedly sighted), and the yeti (never definitively documented). Scientists writing to a scientific audience are more likely to use the adjective ‘cryptic’ than the noun ‘cryptid’, though they do so in a variety of strategically specific ways to cover much the same ground as cryptozoologists do when referring to cryptids. For example, scientists use ‘cryptic’ to refer to the camouflage coloration of some species, questionable hybrids, recently discovered species, undiscovered species suspected to have existed in the past, and a single species that has been found, through genetic technologies, to be multiple species. Until recently, then, the term ‘cryptid’ has appeared mainly in that margin-

alized field mixing folklore and zoology known as cryptozoology. The so-called ‘father of cryptozoology’ (Coleman 2001: n.p.), Bernard Heuvelmans, used the term ‘cryptid’ to refer broadly to the many unknown and relict species that he was convinced still roamed the earth. A zoologist by training but quixotic by inclination, Heuvelmans focused his exhaustive research on large animals (like sea serpents) and hominoids (like the yeti), establishing a trend that has dominated cryptozoology ever since (Weidensaul 2002: 173). In this paper, the non-technical term ‘hominoid’ is used to refer to the taxonomic superfamily Hominoidea, while ‘hominin’ is preferred over the less precise ‘hominid’ to refer to those specific hominoids in the tribe Hominini, which includes humans and their ancestors following their split from the great apes (Stein n.d.: 4). According to Heuvelmans, cryptids matter to humans in

specific ways: they have traits that are ‘truly singular, unexpected, paradoxical, striking, emotionally upsetting, and thus capable of mythification’ (cited in Dendle 2006: 192). It did not matter to Heuvelmans that cryptid existence lacks objective proof; circumstantial and testimonial evidence of their reality is compelling enough to take their possible existence seriously (Heuvelmans 1958: 28-29). He thus viewed cryptids as ‘monsters’ only in the sense that their possible existence demonstrates something of value that has been lost from the natural world because of human actions that only human representation could confirm. Since their existence depends so much on human testimony and redemption seeking, the search for cryptids takes on a moral dimension in Heuvelmans’ writing. For example, at the conclusion of the study that launched the field, Heuvelmans writes,

Tomorrow we may know one of our other relatives: the abominable snowman [yeti], for instance, who is surely a shy and gentle great ape; or perhaps an even more human primate like the tiny agogwe or the elusive orang pendek. I hope with all my heart that when he is captured there will be no needless murder. Have pity on them all, for it is we who are the real monsters.