cover image Abominable Science! Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids

Abominable Science! Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids

Daniel Loxton and Donald R. Prothero. Columbia Univ., $29.95 (424p) ISBN 978-0-231-15320-1

Loxton and Prothero (Reality Check) stake out the world’s best-known (if never observed) cryptids and—unsurprisingly—come up with zilch. But that doesn’t mean the hunt isn’t an interesting one. In their breakdown of cryptozoology, the skeptical duo (Loxton is the editor of Junior Skeptic magazine) covers a vast swath of territory, from biology, geology, paleontology, and genetics, to anthropology, sociology, and folklore. Classic cryptids like Bigfoot, the Yeti, the Loch Ness Monster, and sea serpents, as well as the lesser known Mokele Mbembe, an Apatosaurous-like dinosaur supposedly rampaging through the Congo, each get their due (and are duly dismissed as myths) in chapter-long entries. Loxton and Prothero ultimately conclude that “there is no solid evidence that any of the cryptids discussed in this book exist and much evidence that their existence is extremely unlikely.” So why the obsession with these fanciful beasts? And what of the weird world of amateur cryptozoologists? The authors address these questions and others in the illuminating final pages, where they rail against the dangers of pseudoscience and provocatively tie cryptozoology to the politics of creationism. This work is as valuable for its analysis of the hunted as it is for the light it shines on the still-hopeful hunters. 88 illus. and photos. (Aug. 6)