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Mammals and Cryptozoology

George Gaylord Simpson
Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society
Vol. 128, No. 1 (Mar. 30, 1984), pp. 1-19
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/986487
Page Count: 19
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Mammals and Cryptozoology
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Abstract

Cryptozoology is defined as the "science" of unknown and of hidden or undiscovered animals. It is being increasingly promoted as a classical supplement to paleontology, the science of extinct animals, and to zoology, the science of known and discovered animals. It relies on circumstantial and testimonial evidence rather than the objective and autoptic evidence of paleontologists and zoologists. Strictly zoological evidence of living mammals can be enumerated by dates of technical definition and naming of species, genera, families, and still higher taxa. A roster of living genera and families discovered during the present century has a grand total of 126 genera. The number reached a high point in the first decade but during the last fifty years it has fallen to less than one a year. Only two entirely new families have been discovered so far in this century. Additionally, two genera previously known only as fossils were discovered. Both are members of previously known families, and the already known fossils were not more ancient than late Pleistocene or early Recent. There has been no definite and objective discovery of any living taxa that were previously unknown or hidden in the cryptozoological sense. The pursuit of supposed mammals lacking objective evidence is not a science in an acceptable usage of that word. The probability of future objective evidence of true zoological taxa is small but real for species and is decreasing to zero higher in the hierarchy of superspecific taxa. The roster of living mammals is now more nearly complete than that of any other class of animals with the probable exception of birds. There is little or no good evidence that this roster will be supplemented or completed by cryptozoology.

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