Video: Cryptozoologists, ghost hunters gather in Watertown

Steve Bagley

Noted cryptozoologist Loren Coleman, famous for his investigations of creatures that go bump in the night such as the Mothman and the Abominable Snowman, is really just looking for new species of animals.

At the second day of a two-day conference at the Hibernian Hall in Watertown, Coleman discussed cryptozoology — the study, he said, of hidden animals called cryptids by people working in the field — using his most famous case, that of Mothman, as an example. The conference also spanned ghosts, beasts and aliens.

Mothman, brought to the silver screen in the widely panned 2002 film “The Mothman Prophecies,” is believed to have terrorized Point Pleasant, West Va., in 1966 and 1967. The creature was the darling of the evening, as Coleman used his time in front of packed audience to discuss the debate surrounding the creature’s true nature.

Cryptozoology is the study of secret animals, he said, not the study of animals that do not exist. He said the purpose of his Web site,, was to discuss new animals “which are discovered all the time."

“Whether it’s a new species of manta ray, which was discovered this year in the Pacific, to new monkeys or other animals that are out there but not seen by Western scientists, that the locals may know.”

Like the ivory-billed woodpecker or the giant panda before they were discovered, Coleman said, the science is all about finding animals that haven’t been found yet.

“You have to let people know you view this as a science,” Coleman said in an interview after his keynote speech. “Most of the reports I get, I have to throw 80 percent out.”

As a scientist, Coleman said, he does not take the existence of these animals as an article of faith. “One thing it is not is evangelical,” Coleman said. “We don’t care if you believe or don’t believe.”

“I am very nuts and bolts, blood and flesh, about cryptozoological creatures,” Coleman told his audience. “I was just interested in animals.”

If one animal inspired Coleman, it was the Abominable Snowman. When he was growing up, he saw “Half Human,” by the king of Japan’s monster movies, Ishiro Honda, who also directed the first “Godzilla” movie.

After teachers told the young Coleman not to waste his time on the snowman, Coleman said, he read everything he could on the creature.