Researchers who stalk rare or fantastic creatures must endure the scorn of colleagues and funding agencies

Physical anthropologist Grover Krantz sometimes fantasizes about flying his ultra-light aircraft over the Pacific Northwest on a warm spring day. Controls in one hand and an infrared heat detector in the other, Krantz scans the thawing ground-cover in search of the telltale heat of a rotting Bigfoot carcass. Bagging a body would be the ultimate evidence in a decades-old quest that has left the Washington State University professor an authority on Bigfoot, thought by some to be a surviving Pleistocene ape, Gigantopithecus blacki.

Krantz is a member of a small band of scientists called cryptozoologists, who stalk previously undescribed--and, some would say, nonexistent--animals. This includes new species of lizards, monkeys, and other ho-hum creatures, but also beasts of mythic proportion: Consider the Loch Ness Monster, a giant octopus with tentacles more than 100 feet...

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