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Cryptozoology is the study of animals that are either rare or unusual, presumed extinct but still occasionally sighted, or creatures of mythology but possibly rooted in a real animal or phenomenon. Some cryptozoologists align themselves with a more scientifically rigorous field like zoology, others tend toward an anthropological slant or even forteana. For this reason, cryptozoology is often not considered a valid field of science, though it can be considered a legitimate study.

Cryptozoology is not recognized by most zoologists as a field of science. While many cryptozoologists strive for legitimacy and many are already respected scientists in other fields, cryptozoology has never been fully embraced by the scientific community. Often it is considered more akin to parapsychology due to the willingness of its proponents to tackle such issues as the loch ness monster or bigfoot. A cryptozoologist might counter that an interest in such a phenomenon doesn't entail belief. While parapsychology may, right or wrong, have a reputation for agenda, cryptozoologists tend to be the ones responsible for disproving their own objects of study. For example, cryptozoologists have largely been responsible for collecting statistical data and studying witness accounts that have just about disproved the notion that bigfoot sightings have any legitimacy.

A common example among cryptozoologists for why their field is important is the coelacanth, a prehistoric fish. Believed to have been extinct for 65 million years, one was caught in a fishing net in 1938 off the coast of Africa. Cryptozoologists point this out to demonstrate that there are many unexplored regions of the world left, and that remote exotic locations or specialized ecosystems untouched by man can contain life we didn't expect to find. Along similar lines, the emblem of the Society for Cryptozoology is the okapi, a shy, forest-dwelling relative of the giraffe that was unknown to Western scientists prior to 1901.

Notable topics of interest in Cryptozoology:

There are also some areas of Cryptozoology that deal with "mysterious" animals, though in some cases this could also be considered forteana or parapsychology:

Due to some fields of study in cryptozoology, see also pseudoscience and protoscience.