On the Track of Unknown Animals
1955 as Sur la Piste des Bêtes Ignorées
1958, 1965 translated
1995, Kegan Paul International
Heuvelmans’ collection of cryptozoological reports from every inhabited continent is invaluable, even if few of the animals he surveyed turn out to be real. It is the founding work of cryptozoology, first published in 1955 and updated in 1995. The updating unfortunately consists only of a thirteen-page preface to the original text, plus some new illustrations. Still, the amount of material here is impressive: the bibliography fills twenty-six pages. The book includes alleged animals of South America, Africa, Asia, and Australasia, ranging from the famous (like the yeti) to little-known ones like Australia’s dinosaur-like gauarge.
Heuvelmans does a great service in his examination of matters like the “Nandi bear” of Africa. Time and again, he patiently untangles a welter of contradictory reports, explains most of them, and offers candidates for the ones he feels remain unexplained. I can’t help wishing Heuvelmans had rewritten his original text and updated it throughout. Nevertheless, this is the largest and best-researched volume on land-dwelling cryptids ever published in English.
Often considered the “Bible” of cryptozoology by one of the seminal figures in cryptozoology. It’s a must have. Although it’s worth noting that Heuvelmans should not be considered infallible, let’s give credit where it’s due: this is a very enjoyable book but don’t lose your critical thinking cap. This book is excellent for the early, but serious, student of cryptozoology. I consider it a stepping stone to more in-depth understanding of the field.