Cryptozoology is the study of animals that are reported, but not proven, to exist. The direct meaning of the word is "the study of hidden life." Although considered a fringe science or a pseudoscience by many scientists, cryptozoology has captured the attention of many young earth creationists (YEC); that's because many of the animals (called cryptids) investigated by cryptozoologists strongly resemble extinct animals such as dinosaurs and pterosaurs (See Press Releases on Living Dinosaurs and Living Pterosaurs). Young Earth Creationists hope to shed doubt on accepted dates for the Age of the Earth, or validate a literal Genesis Flood, by proving life forms thought to be long-extinct to be, in fact, still alive.
Criticisms of YEC cryptid hunts (and responses)Edit
Ignoring Big FootEdit
One criticism of the Young Earth position is that while YECs actively champion the legitimacy of "surving dinosaurs" like the Mokele Mbembe, or pterosaurs like the ropen, they do not extend credit towards cryptids that may strengthen evolutionary positions like Bigfoot or the Yeti. One response is that all scientists champion concepts that strengthen their own philosophical foundations, whether the axiom is Naturalism or a Christian philosophy. In addition, dinosaur and pterosaur fossils have been used, since Darwin, as examples of ancient "primitive" life; the General Theory of Evolution requires great numbers of species of primitive life, and discovering "living fossils" clearly favors the Creationist paradigm over the Naturalism paradigm, when evaluated by an objective observer who has no preconceived preference for either philosophy. Regarding the cryptids Bigfoot and Yeti, their discoveries would have doubtful relevance to the competing philosphies, unless perhaps there were many relevant fossils that showed some macroevolutionary change or lack thereof.
Another criticism of YEC cryptozoologists is that they are prejudiced towards interpreting eyewitness reports to be "living fossils." One response is that all scientists, regardless of their axioms, have the potential for bias; but pointing out possible bias is a poor substitute for scientific criticism, which should involve reasoning on interpretations of the data (not reasoning on the mental state of scientists that one disagrees with). In addition, experience has shown, in at least two instances of living-pterosaur investigations, that continued work has verified the credibility of the hypothesis (living pterosaurs): 1) Rhamphorhynchoid tail-movement and the ropen of Umboi Island 2) Elimination of ordinary explanations for the indava-light video taken by Paul Nation (the lights are not from airplanes, meteors, camp fires, lanterns, or car headlights).
Most YEC cryptozoologists seem to lack college degrees in biology, and they can be criticized for that lack; but cryptozoology (what colleges teach that?) differs from biology: important skills might not come from college education. For example, Paul Nation was chosen for a ropen expedition (1994) because of his experience with large ratites (like ostriches) and their eggs; Jonathan Whitcomb interviewed and videotaped natives, during his expedition (2004), after experiences interviewing and videotaping accident victims (for attorney firms). Garth Guessman climbed mountains on Umboi Island after years of physical conditioning (not part of any biology course). David Woetzel (who accompanied Guessman) explored Umboi Island after his experience exploring in Africa (for the Mokele-Mbembe).
More "living fossils" meaningless?Edit
Another criticism of YEC cryptozoologists is that the discovery of additional "living fossils" would not harm the credibility of mainstream geology (or the Geologic Column); the discovery of the Coelacanth fish, for example, did not overthrow standard models. One response is that true scientific progress often involves overthrowing old ideas when important new data is discovered; those who proclaim that a standard model can never be overthrown are revealing the philosophical side that they are defending. In addition, fossils of organisms portrayed as ancient (and not recently living) are critical to the credibility of the General Theory of Evolution; without such fossils, the idea of innumerable ancestral species going back to origianl microbes is obviously pure speculation. In fact, some creationists mention the Coelacanth as evidence against the General Theory of Evolution.
Pterosaurs after the Mesozoic?Edit
One criticism of the living-pterosaur investigations (see ropen) is that if there were modern pterosaurs their fossils would be found in geologic strata younger than Mesozoic.The principle response to the Mesozoic objection is this: Strata are commonly dated by the fossils they contain; should a pterosaur have become fossilized 5,000 years ago, for example, its discovery would cause that strata to be labeled "Mesozoic." This invalidates the "Mesozoic objection" to living pterosaurs.
Lack of evidenceEdit
Some critics declare that a lack of evidence makes creationist cryptid hunting foolish. This often suggests the critics lack understanding of the relationship between cryptozoology and zoology. Living-pterosaur criticism is one example. Some critics declare that there is no valid evidence (such as photos or video) for living pterosaurs; one response is that there has been extensive scientific analysis of video footage of what is called the indavalight (similar to the ropen light) of Papua New Guinea (video analyzed by Cliff Paiva, a physicist).
Non-YEC cryptid huntsEdit
Not all that seek living dinosaurs and pterosaurs are Young Earth Creationists. Members of the Destination Truth team seem to have little interest in the philosophical conflict between Naturalism and Creationism. A few cryptozoologists who have searched for the Mokele-Mbembe in Africa have been supporters of Naturalism.
Jonathan Whitcomb, who explored Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea, looking for ropens in 2004, is a Young Life Creationist (YLC): He promotes living-pterosaur investigations and discoveries to support the Genesis-Flood model and the concept of recent life (Garden of Eden), without regard to the age of our planet or the age of our universe.