Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Clara from Memphis, TN. Clara Wonders, “What is cryptozoology?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Clara!

Bigfoot. The Yeti. The Loch Ness Monster. Do you know any of these names? If so, you may be able to guess what today’s Wonder of the Day is about. That’s right—today, we’re learning about cryptozoology!

What is cryptozoology? It’s the study of cryptids—animals which may or may not exist. These creatures show up in many centuries-old stories and legends. In many cases, people still report sightings today.

People who study cryptozoology are called cryptozoologists. Their goal is to find out whether cryptids are real. They do so by looking at the evidence. This often includes both eyewitness stories and fossils. They may also take part in archaeological digs and study the history of geology.

Can you think of any examples of cryptids? We bet you can! Maybe you’ve heard stories of Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch. With sightings across North America, this is one cryptid that’s difficult to ignore. Much of the evidence for the existence of Bigfoot has been deemed fake. However, people report new encounters each year.

People in Nepal, India, and China report another cryptid called the Yeti. It’s also called the Abominable Snowman. If it exists, the Yeti has always outrun photographers. However, strange tracks in the Himalayas cause many to think the Yeti is a real animal.

Of course, any mention of cryptozoology would be incomplete without the Loch Ness Monster. Also called Nessie, it may be the world’s most famous cryptid. In fact, Scotland receives around £60 million ($83 million) per year from tourists hoping to see the creature.

Another example is El Chupacabra. This cryptid, rumored to live in Puerto Rico and Mexico, reminds some of the mythical vampire. That’s because it is said to drink the blood of livestock. El Chupacabra’s reported favorite snack? Goats. 

Could any of these cryptids be real? Many people are skeptical. However, others say that the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Could a creature like Bigfoot or Nessie be found in the wild? It wouldn’t be the first time a cryptid turned out to be a real animal.

Which real animals used to be cryptids? The Komodo dragon, platypus, and okapi are all examples. So is the giant squid—which could have been the inspiration behind tales of the Kraken. Scientists first photographed the giant squid in 2004.

These examples give some people hope that creatures like the Yeti and El Chupacabra really are out there. However, scientists don’t have enough evidence to prove their existence . . . yet. Do you think any of these cryptids could be real animals? Which one would you most like to discover?

Standards: CCRA.R.4, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.W.3, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.W.10, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2 , CCRA.R.1, CCRA.SL.1, NCAS.A.1, NCAS.A.2, NCAS.A.3

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