Cryptozoology: The study of "hidden animals," includes Bigfoot, Loch Ness Monsters, Yeti, Myakka Skunk Ape, and hundreds of other cryptids.

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The Cryptozoologist > Loren Coleman

Swede Jan-Ove Sundberg, a critic of flesh-and-blood cryptozoological

 pursuits,conducted the following virtual interview in July 1999, and posted it on his

Loren Coleman, A Living Legend
"It is a popular misconception that cryptids are not found"

Loren Coleman is probably one of the most well-known cryptozoologists in the world. Where ever you go, who ever you talk to, his name always comes up and his treated with respect everywhere. CryptoWorld decided it was time for an interview, even if it had to be a virtual one, which is not as bad as it sounds, if you remember what the ad girl on the National Geograpic Channel says: It´s not virtual, it´s reality!

Jan-Ove Sundberg: Let´s start with a the question non-cryptozoologist´s is constantly asking, both themselves and those involved in the search, namely why is it that cryptids and the likes, seemingly can not be found?

Loren Coleman: Many cryptozoological species have been found. My new book, Cryptozoology A to Z (NY: Fireside/Simon and Schuster, 1999; coauthor Jerome Clark) contains many entries on animals such as the okapi, coelacanth, and pygmy hippo which are cryptozoological success stories. The animals found in the so-called "Lost World" of Vietnam are other examples. Native reports of these animals were gathered, followed, and the animals "discovered" by Western Science. In my other book published this year, The Field Guide to Bigfoot, Yeti, and Other Mystery Primates Worldwide (New York: Avon, 1999; coauthor Patrick Huyghe), there's a whole segment where "New Primates" are discussed. It is a popular misconception that cryptids are not found.

Jan-Ove Sundberg: Is it your firm belief that lake monsters, Bigfoot and similar creatures are flesh and blood and not some kind of apperations, that´s either in our own minds or manifested by some sinister force?

Loren Coleman: Belief is an artifact of religion. I accept the reality that some eyewitnesses are seeing, finding tracks, and coming across evidence of "unknown" or "hidden" or "unexpected" animals that have not been scientifically discovered and classified.  Animals, in my way of thinking, are "flesh and blood."

Jan-Ove Sundberg: For how long have you been searching and researching these creatures yourself?

Loren Coleman: I began in March of 1960, starting in the Midwest USA. I have done fieldwork in 45 of the USA's 50 states, all across Canada, in Mexico and the Virgin Islands. I am a firm believer in doing field research as close to your base of operations, your home as possible. However, having been involved with writing and correspondence now for 40 years, I have a rather global view of cryptozoology, of course.

Jan-Ove Sundberg: What´s your background on this, do you consider yourself as a layman, are you in between or do you have an academic education in these matters?

Loren Coleman: I specifically got my university training in anthropology and zoology because of my interest in cryptozoology. I've since received a post-graduate degree in psychiatric social work, and have done doctoral level work in two programs, one in social anthropology and the other in sociology-family violence. I've been teaching at the university level since 1980, in a variety of subjects, including, Race and Ethnic Relations, Sociology, Anthropology, Social Justice, Cryptozoology, Documentary Film, Grantwriting, Research, and many, many other
subjects. I tend to agree with Bernard Heuvelmans that a grounding in several fields leads to a better and broader base of analysis for cryptozoological work.

Jan-Ove Sundberg: What do you find most interesting to search for, creatures in the water or creatures on land?

Loren Coleman: I find them both intriguing. I like the water, and have picked my residences based on how close to water my home can be. I have lived in San Francisco, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Portland, Maine, on one level because these cities are located near oceans. But I love the woods, and have searched in many wilderness areas too.

Jan-Ove Sundberg
: One would think that it would be easier to find Bigfoot than a lake monster, so why isn´t there any conclusive evidence on that hairy creature of North-America?

Loren Coleman: Who says that one is easy to find than the other? In The Field Guide to Bigfoot, Yeti, and Other Mystery Primates Worldwide (New York: Avon, 1999), there's a whole section on the evidence that has been found for these hairy hominoids. Again, it's a old misconception there is no evidence for these creatures. If you think about it, the gorilla formerlly was an unknown hairy hominoid, and conclusive evidence was finally found for it. The same is true for the bonobo (the pygmy chimpanzee).

Jan-Ove Sundberg: There´s all kinds of wild claims about Bigfoot; everything from him stepping out of a flying saucer to him raping unsuspecting women in the forest, why do you think that these stories are circulated about a creature thought to be the real thing?

Loren Coleman: They are wild stories, you are right. Some people like to repeat wild stories purely for their entertainment value, although they may be but a very small minority of the reports or be based on hoaxes, false claims, and mistakes.

Jan-Ove Sundberg: Why are scientists so indifferent to Bigfoot?

Loren Coleman: You have been using the word "Bigfoot," I sense, in the generic sense of its meaning. The Field Guide to Bigfoot, Yeti, and Other Mystery Primates Worldwide (New York: Avon, 1999), goes into some depth on how this has been a disservice to viewing these animals as merely undiscovered new primates. There are many varieties of unknown primates, hairy hominoids, that remain to be discovered worldwide. Many scientists are far from indifferent to these. For example, the Orang Pendek is taken very seriously in some scholarly circles. Sasquatch is no longer only folklore to certain anthropologists.

Jan-Ove Sundberg: Have you searched for Bigfoot yourself and in that case what did you find?

Loren Coleman: I have spent some time in various areas of the Pacific Northwest looking for signs of Sasquatch, and have interviewed some witnesses. My discoveries of sound and footprints for the North American Ape in the southeastern USA are well-documented in my books.

Jan-Ove Sundberg: What would it take to prove Bigfoot, in terms of money, equipment, people and time?

Loren Coleman: A body needs to be presented to a scientific organization, university, or similar agency for formal zoological analysis. Nothing short of this will convince all that at least one form of these creatures exist.

Jan-Ove Sundberg: According to some sources Bigfoot and his alledged relatives are protected by the law in many counties in both the US and Canada, could one take this seriously or was it done just for the publicity?

Loren Coleman: The number of counties is very small. These measures appear to have occurred because too many gun-carrying individuals seem to have been randomly searching during Sasquatch, Bigfoot, and/or Skunk Ape sighting flaps. The local communities took these measures very seriously. They had little to gain from the publicity, as part of the problem was too many outsiders draw there by the publicity.

Jan-Ove Sundberg: Let´s move on to lake monsters, or cryptids as some prefer to call them. They seem to be every- where across the US, so why aren´t limnologists, zoologists, biologists or other academics taking more interest in them?

Loren Coleman: Some are. But to talk openly about being interested in lake monsters often leads to academic ridicule or a loss of your position or job.

Jan-Ove Sundberg: Which lakes have you researched on this subject and what did you find?

Loren Coleman: I have visited many, many lakes throughout North America, said to be inhabited by Lake Monsters, and have interviewed many eyewitnesses.

Jan-Ove Sundberg: Personally, I feel that cryptozoologist´s from around the world would need to get together, share research and search findings and develop new methods to search for cryptids in lakes, rivers and even seas, do you agree?

Loren Coleman: Yes, that's why I joined the International Society of Cryptozoology, and later became a Life Member, in hopes this would occur. I have been honored with Honorary Memberships in various societies (especially Kirk's BC group), as I wish to share information a cross the board. This is the main reason I write.

Jan-Ove Sundberg: Echosounders, sonars and similar equipment are meant to find fish, not cryptids, so do you, yourself, have any suggestion what we would need to overcome this obstacle?

Loren Coleman: Specific field-tested equipment used, especially in some of the larger lakes like Loch Ness, should be utilized elsewhere. Part of the challenge, of course, is the many varieties of different types of unknowns may be called simply "Lake Monsters."

Jan-Ove Sundberg: Why do you think it is that some scientists seems to be outright hostile to the possibility of unknown species, still inhabiting the lake down the road?

Loren Coleman: Some scientists love the status quo. Others may be open to such things but fear the consequences of their open-mindedness.

Jan-Ove Sundberg: What would be your dream-team (in terms of expertise) searching Lake Champlain in the US or Loch Ness, Scotland, and what kind of equipment do you feel you would need if you had unlimited resources?

Loren Coleman: This is a question that I would need a lot of time to answer, as to be a project director on such a venture is something I would take too seriously to give a quick remark on this one.

Jan-Ove Sundberg: From what´s been published on the net, Don Taylor is not coming to Loch Ness this summer to search with his new sub, why is that?

Loren Coleman: He has not fully built his mini-sub, and apparently says he needs more money.

Jan-Ove Sundberg: Do you think that a sub like his will make a difference in the almost pitch dark, peat-stained water of Loch Ness, where the sight is said to be less than 5 feet?

Loren Coleman: Taylor feels that with a combination of his sonar and close approach, his new boat will be fast enough to stay up with the Loch animal he is chasing. This remains to be seen.

Jan-Ove Sundberg: And finally, Loren Coleman, what do you wish for in the approching Twentyfirst century, in terms of cryptozoological research?

Loren Coleman: I think it is on a good track. There seems to be a good number of sincere scientists interested in the field. A new discovery, such as of the Orang Pendek, may be a breakthrough event.

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