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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Book Review: On the Track of Unknown Animals by Bernard Heuvelmans

Yesterday I finished Bernard Heuvelmans' classic On the Track of Unknown Animals. This book is pretty much the Bible of Cryptozoology. On the Track originally came out in French in 1955, and came out in English in 1958. The copy I have is the updated 1965 edition with a copy that came out in 1972. The original edition is over 500 pages, but this one is shortened to 300.
Bernard Heuvelmans, father of cyrptozoology
1916-2001

Heuvelmans doesn't just discuss animals that are totally unknown, he also goes over animals that were recently discovered at the time and are still used as examples of "discovered" animals today by Cryptozoologists, including the Mountain Gorilla, okapi, and Komodo dragon.

When it gets to unknown animals, Heuvelmans discusses a wide range of critters. Supposedly extinct animals like the moa, tasmanian tiger, mammoth are discussed. At the end of the chapter on the mammoth there is actually an eyewitness sighting from the early 1900s when a man followed huge, mysterious tracks in Siberia(in the middle of nowhere) and saw two creatures that sound exactly like mammoths. Totally unknown animals discussed include the Abominable Snowman or Yeti, the Queensland tiger, Loy's Ape, the Nandi Bear, giant anacondas, mokele-mbembe and other living dinosaurs, the marozi or spotted lion, and bunyips.

This book was great. I strongly recommend it to anyone interested in cryptozoology, because it was really the first book that covered the subject as a whole.

At the end of the book Heuvelmans wonders if he should have written it and exposed so many hidden animals. He gives so many examples of creatures that had been discovered and are being exterminated by man, and ends the book with a perfect quote:

"Have pity on them all, for it is we who are the real monsters."
The 1958 english edition of
On the Track of Unknown Animals 
My next book review will be the new Bigfoot book Shadows in the Woods: A Chronicle of Bigfoot in Maine by Daniel S. Green.