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Rafterman

Anatomy of a Real Cryptid Case

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Reposting this from the Skeptoid Daily Blog. Interesting points made by the author - THIS is how you prove a cryptid exists.

http://skeptoid.com/blog/2012/11/15/anatomy-of-a-real-cryptid-case/

Anatomy of a Real Cryptid Case

Posted on November 15, 2012 by Brian Hudson

I’ve always been a fan of cryptids. When I was young and still a believer, Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster fascinated me; now that I’m older and skeptical, I still enjoy reading about cryptids, albeit in completely different ways. So it was that I’ve been following the case of a “real life” cryptid in my home state recently, one that draws an interesting contrast between actual “hidden animals” and those more mythical monsters of cryptid lore.

There once was a permanent population of cougars in Michigan, mainly in the Upper Peninsula. Cougars are dangerous to livestock, however, and occasionally to humans; and so efforts to control or eliminate the predator were undertaken over a century ago. They were successful — the Cougar was officially eliminated in Michigan in the early part of the twentieth century.

But starting in the 1970s, stories began to surface that cougars were being spotted in the state. It began as verbal reports, but soon some blurry photos and even a few rumored track marks began to surface. Some people thought the sightings were misidentifications of wolves or other forest creatures; others thought that any big cat wandering around the state might be escaped pets or zoo animals; a few suggested that the sightings might be an occasional big cat from Canada or Wisconson wandering out of its natural territory But these unconfirmed sightings kept coming, and people began to believe that, just maybe, cougars had returned to Michigan.

If tales of the Michigan Cougar had stopped there, then the story would be no more interesting than Nessie or Bigfoot — and maybe less interesting, since a modern cougar wound never spark the kind of decades-long fervent search that Bigfoot or Nessie have. There haven’t been well-financed expeditions to the forests of the Upper Peninsula in search of the beast, and Leonard Nimoy never did a voiceover for the Mighigan cougar episode of In Search Of.

Yet as the years have gone by, a small core of interested people — hunters, hikers, environmentalists, DNR agents – have done something that all those well financed Nessie hunters and well-geared Sasquatch hunters never have: they amassed actual, fairly unambiguous evidence for the cougar’s existence. Cougar feces, prey carcasses, clearer pictures, even the occasional grainy nighttime video all pointed to the existence of the modern Michigan Cougar.

And then, this past summer, a digital trail camera snapped an incredible photo:

Trail-Cam-Cougar.jpg

[Photo originally appeared on the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy website.]

Not a blurry night shot of what might be a Bigfoot or a grizzly bear; not a shaky video of rustling foliage that might (or might not) be a creature moving; but a clear-as-day digital image of a cougar stalking through a Michigan forest.

Every biker, hiker, and fisherman nowadays is carrying a camera-equipped smartphone, yet not even a single clear photograph of a Sasquatch or Yeti has ever surfaced. With all the cameras, all the dollars, all the people looking — why hasn’t a photo like this been taken of the Loch Ness Monster? Heck, there’s an entire television crew out there filming in the woods for Sasquatch, yet none of their equipment can come close to this digital snap taken by a lone trail camera in the Michigan wilderness.

The Michigan Cougar was a true cryptid. And since it was real, it played out in a logical way. As methods of detection improved, so too has the trail of evidence, and finally we have enough clear, concrete evidence to say that, yes, the Michigan Cougar is back. It might not have the mystery or allure of a surviving plesiosaur or a hidden hominid. But that’s the point. Real “hidden creatures” aren’t magical or fantastical; they’re real, they’re grounded in the real world, and — if they actually exist — they’re eventually found.

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One problem I see with this analysis - we already know that Cougars exist, and the question here is whether Couguars exist in the Michigan forests. Because of this, any evidence found is logically going to be much more compelling than a cryptid whose existence, anywhere, is unknown, since the possibility of a dislocated Cougar is not that farfetched. For instance, few would question whether the above picture is photoshopped, while a similar photo of bigfoot or nessie would be heavily scrutinized and most likely passed off as a hoax.

Edited by sonicsaint

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One problem I see with this analysis - we already know that Cougars exist, and the question here is whether Couguars exist in the Michigan forests. Because of this, any evidence found is logically going to be much more compelling than a cryptid whose existence, anywhere, is unknown, since the possibility of a dislocated Cougar is not that farfetched. For instance, few would question whether the above picture is photoshopped, while a similar photo of bigfoot or nessie would be heavily scrutinized and most likely passed off as a hoax.

I'd love to have a photo that clear of Bigfoot to even have a debate about - they simply don't exist.

As to your other point, no, Cougars in the East are cryptids. Not only did we not know they existed, there are groups out there fighting to constantly prove they don't.

Either way, the point of the blog post is that there are scientific ways to prove the existence of cryptids and they, obviously, do work as was proven in this case.

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I'd love to have a photo that clear of Bigfoot to even have a debate about - they simply don't exist.

As to your other point, no, Cougars in the East are cryptids. Not only did we not know they existed, there are groups out there fighting to constantly prove they don't.

Either way, the point of the blog post is that there are scientific ways to prove the existence of cryptids and they, obviously, do work as was proven in this case.

What about the Patterson video? Those images seem pretty good to me. And I know there's evidence against it, but based on the image alone experts are supposedly divided on its legitimacy. Again, IMO, the fact that we don't know whether something like a bigfoot exists puts any relevant evidence into heavy dispute.

As for the Eastern Cougars, I'm not saying that they're not cryptids, but simply that because we have live Cougars in our zoos, the idea of something known to be real, but simply found in another part of the world, is not immensely difficult to accept. That puts them into a different category of "cryptid" than the Nessies and Bigfoots

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What about the Patterson video? Those images seem pretty good to me. And I know there's evidence against it, but based on the image alone experts are supposedly divided on its legitimacy. Again, IMO, the fact that we don't know whether something like a bigfoot exists puts any relevant evidence into heavy dispute.

As for the Eastern Cougars, I'm not saying that they're not cryptids, but simply that because we have live Cougars in our zoos, the idea of something known to be real, but simply found in another part of the world, is not immensely difficult to accept. That puts them into a different category of "cryptid" than the Nessies and Bigfoots

You make a good point

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Yeah? What's cryptid about a known species? Cougar are spread far and wide.

This is a waste of board space.

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Yeah? What's cryptid about a known species? Cougar are spread far and wide.

This is a waste of board space.

Not really. There were no cougars in Michigan, so seeing them would be a cryptid sighting, albeit a boring one. Cryptids are animals that are unknown or shouldn't be there. The point is they managed to find proof of something people had seen in the mountains, yet the same cant be said for bigfoot.

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There are no clear pictures of the wild cats that live in areas of the British countryside, yet they are definitely there. Perhaps the person who photographed the Michigan cougar was just extraordinarily lucky?

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Erowin:

If that's what you think constitutes a "cryptid" then you need to study up a bit. Seeing a known species of anything in a place no one has ever seen them, isn't a cryptid sighting. It's a sighting of a known species, in this case, a cougar. We have Coyotes in urban areas now and even wild hogs that we'd never seen in urban areas before, that doesn't make them cryptids. It just means no one's ever seen them there before.

......and yes, it's a waste of board space unfortunately.

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Erowin:

If that's what you think constitutes a "cryptid" then you need to study up a bit. Seeing a known species of anything in a place no one has ever seen them, isn't a cryptid sighting. It's a sighting of a known species, in this case, a cougar. We have Coyotes in urban areas now and even wild hogs that we'd never seen in urban areas before, that doesn't make them cryptids. It just means no one's ever seen them there before.

......and yes, it's a waste of board space unfortunately.

I think that's a little bit harsh. While maybe not technically 'cryptids', out of place or long-thought-extinct animals have always come under the remit of cryptozoology. Alien/anomalous big cats, Tasmanian tigers, plesiosaurs... All these topics are frequently discussed, so I don't see why this one should be considered a waste of space.

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Yeah? What's cryptid about a known species? Cougar are spread far and wide.

This is a waste of board space.

Then I suggest you head over to the James Randi board and start talking about them. You'll get hammered so fast it will make your head spin.

Erowin:

If that's what you think constitutes a "cryptid" then you need to study up a bit. Seeing a known species of anything in a place no one has ever seen them, isn't a cryptid sighting. It's a sighting of a known species, in this case, a cougar. We have Coyotes in urban areas now and even wild hogs that we'd never seen in urban areas before, that doesn't make them cryptids. It just means no one's ever seen them there before.

......and yes, it's a waste of board space unfortunately.

You're simply incorrect. It is a cryptid case. Why do you think cryptozoologists are studying big cats in the UK.

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This is an interesting story. And an interesting post for me, as this is the first time that I have ever found myself disagreeing with Rafterman on the subject of cryptozoology.

While I don't think this post is a waste of space here, I do agree with keninsc in that this isn't a crypto case.

IMO this is simply a case of a naturally occurring repatriation of a species, and a perfect example of the ever expanding and diluted definition of what a cryptid is. Just as you can only add so much water to the soup before it ceases to be soup, cryptids and cryptozoology have become meaningless,

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I think that devolving into another argument about what is and what isn't a crytpid isn't even the point of Rafterman's OP. The point as i take it is that real animals (like a cougar) invariably end up doing the things that real animals do....ie participate in the food chain, leave scat, and eventually show up in unambiguous photos taken by trail cams. Real animals eventually get found and studied.

Which is, in my mind the perfect litmus test for Bigfoot or other cryptids. How long have people been reporting Bigfoots? hundreds of years at least, and still Bigfoot has never done any of the things that real animals do unambiguously enough to be studied seriously by science.

Real animals do real things. Fake animals just have cults that surround them and claim that they do real things in the abscence of actual evidence and proofs.

I like Rafterman's post. It is illustrative of the way this process should work for cryptid animals (whether we agree or not that the cougar is one in this situation).

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I think that's a little bit harsh. While maybe not technically 'cryptids', out of place or long-thought-extinct animals have always come under the remit of cryptozoology. Alien/anomalous big cats, Tasmanian tigers, plesiosaurs... All these topics are frequently discussed, so I don't see why this one should be considered a waste of space.

I am sorry but imo, I have such a hard time understanding statements like the above:

Show me a cryptozoolgy class listed in the catalog of an accredited university under their biology program. Show me even a chapter on cryptozoology in a respected biology textbook. Show me any respected mainstream scientific paper or article that ever mentions okapi and it's "formerly unknown" kin as having ever been cryptids. Find me a respected mainstream paper or article or textbook that even uses the word cryptid. Find me the words cryptid, cryptozoology, cryptozoologist in the index of a respected biology textbook.

When National Geographic was about accredited mainstream science:

--How many of us read the words cryptozoology, cryptozoologist, or cryptid in the magazine? Even when describing newly discovered animals?

--How many articles were there on bigfoot, vampires, Chupacabra or Nessie by mainstream scientists studying and researching these creatures? A magazine known for its photography should be a hint.

Cryptozoology is an illegitimate son adopted into biology only in the mind of a small special interest fringe group. Cryptids will never be proven to exist. They are not scientifically viable animals for usually numerous reasons.

Although, obviously, other definitions and connotations exist in the realm of cryptozoology circles and they can adopt the terms for their purposes all they want and have all the fun with it they want. I enjoy it myself.

However, they can never force it/fit it/ special plead it/legitimize it… into mainstream science. Unless all science goes the way of Animal Planet, Discovery, History Channel, etc. and then Darwin help us!

Just because I want to consider something “science” does not make it so. Just because a small group considers cryptids as scientifically provable animals, does not make them so either.

Edited by QuiteContrary
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You're simply incorrect. It is a cryptid case. Why do you think cryptozoologists are studying big cats in the UK.

You do realize that "Crypozoology" isn't a real scientific discipline, right? You can't get a degree in it and there is no basis for the study of creatures that only live in myth and legend. Last time I check cougars were known to exist, now if that changed because someone spotted one in Michigan then by all means, enlighten me as to how that works. Inquiring minds want to know.

Talking about a real creature venturing out into a place it's never been seen before isn't strange, odd or mysterious. It's a curiosity at best. They even found the skull of a baboon in Ohio, all that means is someone let one out and the cold of the winter killed the poor thing, mystery solved. If the owner of the creature that allowed it to escape could be found then they should be prosecuted for failure to provide the poor thing with a safe and secure place to live. While not mysterious, it is irresponsible.......of the human.

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I think that's a little bit harsh. While maybe not technically 'cryptids', out of place or long-thought-extinct animals have always come under the remit of cryptozoology. Alien/anomalous big cats, Tasmanian tigers, plesiosaurs... All these topics are frequently discussed, so I don't see why this one should be considered a waste of space.

If it's harsh to point out facts to people then you've missed the point of this forum. Tasmanian tigers, Plesiosaurs are or were real creatures at one time, if one is found it simply means they were considered extinct prematurely. Alien/anomalous big cats are real creatures that some irresponsible owner allowed to escape or they simply are migrating in order to find better places to live, nothing more. This is especially true in England since for over a hundred years wealthy used to have their own private zoos and there were few laws on having such creatures.

The observation of a known creature is hardy a crypozoological event. Cougars have never been observed in Michigan before and now we have a really great picture from a trail cam clearly showing one. So what's the big hairy mystery? There's a cougar in Michigan? Ok, I'd be more shocked if the picture was taken in Eight Mile in Detroit, but it's clearly out in a more rural area.

If you want to call it a crypto-like sighting then it's a waste of board space, at best it's a curiosity and while interesting there's really nothing mysterious or anomalous about it. It's a cougar in Michigan........moving on.

Edited by keninsc

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Then I suggest you head over to the James Randi board and start talking about them. You'll get hammered so fast it will make your head spin.

Quite the contrary Rafterman, they would agree with me whole heartedly because I have stated nothing but fact. Unless you think they'll argue that cougars don't really exist, which I seriously doubt. In fact they might well take the same position I have in this that posting a trail cam picture of a Cougar in the wilds of Michigan isn't a crypto case at all.

......but then, I could be wrong. This could be a magical, mystical, paranormal cougar that teleports it's prey to the seventh dimension before eating it.

.......as I said, I could be wrong.

Edit to add:

By the way, would it shock you to know I own two of James Randi's books? One of them signed by Randi himself.

Edited by keninsc

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I think that devolving into another argument about what is and what isn't a crytpid isn't even the point of Rafterman's OP. The point as i take it is that real animals (like a cougar) invariably end up doing the things that real animals do....ie participate in the food chain, leave scat, and eventually show up in unambiguous photos taken by trail cams. Real animals eventually get found and studied.

Which is, in my mind the perfect litmus test for Bigfoot or other cryptids. How long have people been reporting Bigfoots? hundreds of years at least, and still Bigfoot has never done any of the things that real animals do unambiguously enough to be studied seriously by science.

Real animals do real things. Fake animals just have cults that surround them and claim that they do real things in the abscence of actual evidence and proofs.

I like Rafterman's post. It is illustrative of the way this process should work for cryptid animals (whether we agree or not that the cougar is one in this situation).

I completely understand, and mostly agree with what you are saying here orangepeaceful, but the point that I am trying to make (ad nauseum) is that in order to have an intelligent and meaningful conversation about the subject of cryptozoology is almost imposable when everything is a potential cryptid (depending on the agenda of the day), and anyone (aware or unaware, willing, and unwilling) can be a cryptozoologist.

The OP clearly states that this is a case of a "real cryptid". That statement alone (in my mind and apparently others) leaves the door open for debating what is and isn't a "real cyptid". Other than that I see very little relevance to this story and the subject of cryptozoology. Cougars after all are real and endemic to all of the lower 48 states. It is in their nature to fill in any gaps that exist in their natural home range, nothing cryptid like at all IMO.

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