Sunday, July 02, 2006

And finally.... Dr Chris Clark

This will be my fourth cryptozoological expedition in collaboration with the CFZ, so why have I signed up for another tour of duty? As Jon Downes once said to me: "We all want to be Professor Challenger". I can imagine very few things more enjoyable or worthwhile than searching the deserts and mountains of the world for exotic creatures, and if I can do this with a group of enthusiastic like-minded people so much the better. I began my adult life as an astrophysicist, at a time when the new landscapes of the Solar System were being revealed by the first planetary probes, and to me science is at its best and most fascinating when it combines the rational and the imaginative. Cryptozoology is not a branch of the paranormal, but the active frontier of zoology: a penumbral zone between the known and the speculative, where fantastic creatures are pursued by scientific methods with the ultimate aim of bringing them out of the shadow.

Certainly, cryptozoology is not a spectator sport. There are enough web sites which recycle the same material, discuss the credibility of old photographs and indulge in flame wars against rival sites. One the most common features of these sites are the postings that discuss expeditions to gather first-hand data as an impossible aspiration, like a climb of Everest, only to be undertaken by seasoned experts with massive sponsorship. This trip, and our earlier expeditions to Sumatra and Mongolia, shows that it can be done by ordinary people in their own time and using their own money
As for what I hope we shall achieve: I don't count on actually seeing a 30’ lizard. I believe we shall be justified if we can get enough consistent eye-witness accounts to establish that we are dealing with a real creature rather than a legend.


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