Monday, September 17, 2018

Extrinsic animals

“A Menagerie of Mysterious Beasts” is an interesting and entertaining book written by Ken Gerhard, a cryptozoologist of some standing. Cryptozoology isn't considered “properly scientific” (although a few zoologists do dabble in it), instead being uneasily poised somewhere in between folklore, romantic exploration and paranormal research. As a child and tween, I believed the lot of it, but later became skeptical and properly scientific. These days, I'm back in the crypto-fold again. (Funny how that works!) Still, I *do* wonder about the relationship between Bigfoot's body mass, estimated energy intake and the nutritional value of Pacific rainforest blueberries…

Gerhard has no such worries, and takes the reader on a rollercoaster ride through the outer fringes of the cryptozoological landscape. His book isn't intended as an introduction to the field, and hence says relatively little about well known cryptids such as Bigfoot, Yeti or Nessie. Instead, we are treated to a smorgasbord of somewhat more unusual dishes (or beasts): monster spiders the size of a house cat or frying pan, merpeople, surviving pterodactyls, dragons (yes, dragons), flying humanoids, out-sized mantis-like creatures and an assortment of gnomes and hobgoblins. The author himself reveals that he searched for dwarves in the jungles of Belize, so clearly the more exotic aspects of the field doesn't scare him off.

While Gerhard claims to be a flesh-and-blood cryptozoologist, a large portion of his menagerie sounds “out of this world” (or even “out of this dimension”). Well, at least he has an open mind! One of the few non-spectral critters covered in this book is the Minnesota Ice Man, but then, he may not have been a being of flesh-and-blood either, rather being a model made of latex?! Unless, of course, the *real* Iceman mysteriously vanished, being too hot to handle for his human handlers...

The book contains relatively few analyses of the phenomena covered, being mostly a collection of eye-witness reports and tales of the author's own heroic exploits in various parts of the world. While the work is well written, the author frequently uses fancy words in a peculiar or even ungrammatical way. I'm sure “extrinsic animal” or “esoteric expatriate” aren't proper English expressions! Perhaps Gerhard is an esoteric expatriate himself? Still, if tales of monsters and the impossible is your cup of spiced herb tea, “A Menagerie of Mysterious Beasts: Encounters with Cryptid Creatures” may be just what you were looking for, Halloween season and all.

As for my personal speculation concerning Bigfoot's eating habits, I think we're dealing with a creature from the etheric realm munching on astral blueberries. Or they don't really exist, in which case you'd better not forget your bear spray! :P

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