The Cryptozoologist > Loren Coleman
with Loren Coleman appeared on the Freaky Links website on December
20 Questions with Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman has been described as one of the world's leading cryptozooligists.
He's been pursuing the creatures, critters, and phenomena for 40 years, and has chronicled
his investigations in such books as Mysterious America: The Revised Edition
(NY: Paraview, 2001), Cryptozoology A to Z (NY: Simon and Schuster, 1999),
The Field Guide to Bigfoot (NY: Avon, 1999), Tom Slick and the Search for
the Yeti (Boston: Faber and Faber, 1989), Curious Encounters (Boston:
Faber and Faber, 1985), Mysterious America (Boston: Faber and Faber, 1983),
Creatures of the Outer Edge (NY: Warner Books, 1978), and The Unidentifed
(NY: Warner Books, 1975). He lives in Portland Maine and is currently planning to
open a Cryptozoology themed museum in the near future. His website at www.lorencoleman.com
is a fascinating look at one man's search for the truth.
1. What got you interested in cryptozoology?
At 12, in 1960, I was reading the books of Charles Fort, which gave me an "open-mind"
and "question authority" attitude when I saw a Japanese movie about the
Yeti, entitled "Half Human." I went to school and asked my teachers what
they knew about the Abominable Snowmen. The answers I got were very unsatisfactory,
so I began reading and researching all I could on Yeti, Bigfoot, Sasquatch, lake
monsters, and more. It has become a livelong pursuit, passion, and part of my life.
2. Is there any way to prepare for the job? Does it have good benefits? Do you
put "cryptozoologist" in the space for profession on your tax return?
"Cryptozoologists" do not have a formal job description, per se. Various
educational backgrounds (anthropology, linguistics, zoology, biology, etc.) are helpful,
and other trainings go into making one a cryptozoologist. I teach at a university,
consult, research, and write. I believe my accountant puts "professor/author"
on tax forms.
3. What's the majority of the job like? Is it as exciting as it sounds?
There's lots of important but boring work, like searching through newspaper files,
tracking down witnesses, and double-checking witness backgrounds, but the ultimate
goal is thrilling. To think that you are very seriously involved in chasing creatures
and cryptids, investigating extraordinary incidents which happened to ordinary people
is, yes, exciting.
4. What's been your most interesting experience?
I've had so many it's hard to say one is more interesting than the next. Examining
the details of the Dover Demon case of 1977 (discussed in depth in Mysterious
America: The Revised Edition (NY: Paraview, 2001) is high on my list. Looking
for the Loch Ness Monsters at that Scottish lake in 1999, with my sons Malcolm and
Caleb, is certainly up there. Finding apelike tracks, hearing screeching sounds of
an unknown animal, tracking panthers, all in Illinois in the 1960s, were formative
5. What's the deal with that Chupacabra carcass they discovered in Nicaragua?
Is it a dog? ...an escaped circus animal? ...a secret government experiment gone
The carcass appears to be a badly deformed dead canid, a dog, and not at all mysterious.
6. What do you think of the on going scientific discussions about cloning the
Tasmanian Tiger or Woolly Mammoth?
These may be more difficult to do than stated due to the problems with reformatting
the DNA structure. However, what I find more interesting is that the Tasmanian Tiger
(the Thylacine) may still be alive today. There are active pursuits now taking place,
and scores of sightings of the Thylacine in recent years.
Furthermore, Pleistocene animals like the wooly mammoth may also still survive, but
the evidence for such a large animal remaining alive today has not been forthcoming,
other than some stories from the 1920s.
7. How much goat could a goatsucker suck if a goatsucker could suck a goat?
More wood than a woodchuck could chuck wood, that's for sure. Actually, as you know,
of course, Chupacabras is translated as "goatsucker" because they reportedly
suck all the blood from goats (and other livestock).
8. What's your take on the Patterson Bigfoot footage?
On October 20, 1967, the Patterson-Gimlin film was taken. This now-classic footage
by Roger Patterson (Bob Gimlin was also there, gun at the ready) is the best evidence
we have for a population of unknown primates (variously called Sasquatch or Bigfoot
by the public) in the Pacific Northwest. I have not seen any debunking that holds
any water, and I sense the film is authentic.
9. What's up with all those reports of phantom kangaroos jumping around the midwest?
In my 1999 field guide on Bigfoot, I discuss how these kangaroos may have more to
do with giant monkey reports than kangaroos. I go into this in more detail in Mysterious
America: The Revised Edition (NY: Paraview, 2001). "Kangaroos" are
what they "look" like but "Devil Monkeys" are what they may be.
10. If the Chupacabra and Bigfoot got into a fight, who would win?
Bigfoot are reported to be 6.5 - 9 feet tall. Generally, Chupacabras are usually
noted to be not much more than 4 feet tall. Bigfoot from the West Coast are known
to be quiet, retiring, and eat some small mammals but mostly plant material. Chupacabras
are reported to be aggressive, have spikes and sharp claws, and attack livestock
with nasty intent. Who do you think might win?
11. How's your current plans on opening a cryptozoology museum coming along? What's
going to be on display there?
Well, there's going to be a lifesize model of the 65 million year old discovery (the
coelacanth), scores of Bigfoot footcasts, several hominid and Pleistocene felid skull
casts (Giganthropithecus, Meganthropus, Panthera atrox, etc.), and much more.
I'm in the process of still securing space, and hope to have the museum open by 2002.
12. Of all the classic unknowns (Bigfoot, Yeti's, Loch Ness, Mokele Mbembe, etc..)
which one do you think has the best chance of being proven true? What is it going
to take evidence wise to prove the existence of one of these creatures?
The Orang-Pendek, a small apelike creature seen in Sumatra, I sense will be the first
new "big cryptid" discovery. Unfortunately for animals, solid physical
evidence through a capture or dead specimen is the only way to prove they exist.
It's that simple.
13. Do cryptozoologists ever get together and compare notes? Do you guys ever
have a convention that the public can attend?
Yes, there are several events every year which have a cryptozoological theme. Bigfoot
gatherings in (1) Newcomerstown, Ohio, (2) Vancouver, British Columbia, and (3) Washington
State, occur annually. In 1999, I spoke at the first ever International Cryptozoology
Symposium at Loch Ness. Europe has an annual meeting too. The almost now-defunct
International Society of Cryptozoology had annual meeting until the mid-1990s.
14. Any theories on why so many lakes across the world have stories of "lake
monsters" attached to them?
Because there's a lot of cryptids, unknown animals, giant catfish, and other large
hidden fish, reptiles, and mammals in them.
15. Has the Internet helped or hurt your work? Considering the number of e-mails
I get about "monsters" in various parts of the country I would imagine
your in-box is full of reports. How do you sort through them all? Do you keep a database
of locations where mysterious creatures have been seen?
I get about 500 emails a day, and answer all of the personal inquiries sent to me.
Yes, I keep many files of cases, sightings, reports, and more. The democracy of emails
and the internet has been great for the field.
16. You written several books on cryptozoology. Is there one in particular you
would recommend to my readers?
My three most recent ones - Mysterious America: The Revised Edition (NY: Paraview,
2001), Cryptozoology A to Z (NY: Simon and Schuster, 1999), The Field Guide
to Bigfoot (NY: Avon, 1999) - give a good overview of many cryptids, plus info
on the cryptozoologists and their cryptozoological expeditions. I'd recommend all
of them. See my website at www.lorencoleman.com for details.
17. The Jersey Devil back story is one of the more humorous accounts of an unknown
animal. How seriously do you take the idea that there's a cryto beastie lurking out
in the New Jersey woods?
Not to sound like a broken CD here, but in my newest book, Mysterious America:
The Revised Edition (NY: Paraview, 2001), there's a whole chapter on the Jersey
Devil. I think that several unknowns may be riding just below the radar as "Jersey
Devils," but the 1909 cases appear to be based on an elaborate hoax.
18. What's the most unusual thing you've taken with you when you have gone out
on an expedition?
I once took small prehistoric toy figurines of various prehistoric and living animals
with me to Mexico to help in having eyewitnesses pick out the animals that most looked
like the things that they were reporting. It actually worked as an effective way
to make certain that my translator was getting across the question I wanted ask.
And I knew immediately what animals the eyewitnesses were talking about.
19. What is your favorite television program about cryptozoology?
Humm, let's see, I guess that would be, In Search Of from the 1970s through
2001, and beyond.
20. Anything else you want to add to this oh so professional interview?
Derek, you have conducted a very professional interview, and I wish you great luck
in your adventures.
The Loren Coleman website is at www.lorencoleman.com