Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Shadows of Existence - 10 Years On

I published my last book on zoology and cryptozoology, Shadows of Existence, 10 years ago.  Hancock House, the small publisher in Washington State specializing in zoology, bird lore, and Western history, among other topics, had brought out my 1995 Rumors of Existence and offered a contract for this one, too.

What did I get right and wrong?  Here, in no particular order, are 20 things I thought in 2006 and how they have turned out..  

1. I wrote that I didn't expect any new hard evidence for any of the big stars of crypotozoology - sasquatch, yeti, and Nessie.  I was right. 

2. I had hopes something would emerge from the "sea serpent" data, perhaps an elongated eel. In fact, I was pretty sure of the eel or eel-like fish.  So far, no luck finding it.  

3. I expected many more new species of vertebrates, including mammals. I was right, although I suppose that was kind of general, so I don't get much credit for it.  

4. I held out a little hope for the Caribbean monk seal. That one I've given up on. Ditto Schomburgk's deer. Ditto the Tasmanian tiger: people still report it, but there's nothing new to go on.  

5. I was pretty certain we'd find better evidence of the survival of the Eastern cougar. A swing and a miss, and now the slow infiltration of cats from the West may be obscuring this question. 

6. I was hopeful about the Japanese wolf. I've not given that one up yet, but the case hasn't advanced much. 

7. I dismissed the Minnesota Iceman, a position that I feel is much stronger now that the model has turned up.  

8. I plumped for an unknown population of sturgeon for the "monster" of Lake Iliamna.  I still think that one's on the money.

9. I didn't think any of the famous "lake monsters' would be proven. So far, they haven't.  

10. I was unsure about the identification of the mysterious Mesoplodon Species A as the adult form of the Peruvian beaked whale, but scientists are pretty unanimous on this one.  

11. I argued Wilson's whale likely represented an unknown cetacean, and I still think it does, or did. 

12. I thought at least one of Peter Hocking's big cats from Peru would prove to be a new species. I was, alas, wrong. 

13. I wrote that it was time to bury the giant octopus, and it seems to have been. 

14. I thought one or two more species would come out of Vu Quang. They haven't, but unexplained horns are still unexplained: there is, or was, at least one more species.

15. South Africa's mapinguari intrigued me. It still does - somewhat.

16. Ditto for Sumatra's orang-pendek, which has a stronger case - a very strong case, really. I think we'll find it.

17. I agreed with authorities who thought new beaked whale species were still out there.  They have turned out to be right, and I don't think we've met all the cetaceans quite yet.  

18. I thought a strikingly marked manta that turned up in footage from the TV show Survivor might be linked to the elusive maybe-species called Beebe's manta.  I no longer think so, having learned that manta markings are more varied than I'd realized. 

19. I thought the "Bloop" sound could represent an unknown and very large species of animal. Apparently not. 

20.  I suggested more coelacanth populations would be found. I was right on that one. 

It's not a bad record, really. I was proud of the book, and still am.  It got very good reviews, including an excellent one from Sharon Hill's highly respected Doubtful News blog.  Bill Rebsamen's vibrant illustrations helped bring it to life. Bill went on to create a great creature and a great cover for my cryptozoological horror novel The Dolmen.    

So, I am moving on, with more nonfiction and fiction projects related to the mystery animals of the world. These have taken much longer than I thought, but stay tuned! 


Nathan said...

It is a good book. albeit somewhat frustrating to many people because it pretty objectively rates peoples favorite cryptids. Any chance it will show up on kindle one day?

Laurence Clark Crossen said...

By the way, I just learned that NASA discovered a deposit of underground ice on Mars the size of Lake Superior...

Matt Bille said...

Nathan, unfortunately, the publisher is going through a time of transition : they are up for sale as their founder is retiring. I don't expect an electronic version soon.

Matt Bille said...

Laurence, very cool (no pun intended). We need to push the missions that can discover or rule out life on another world. Either way, it's important. Thanks!