Pen and Scalpel: Ivan T. Sanderson – The First Cryptozoologist

I’d like to introduce you to the person who has influenced my mindset more than any other individual. While such authors as Jules Verne and H. G. Wells has made a considerable impact on me, no one has had more affect on me than Ivan T. Sanderson.

Ivan T. Sanderson lived a life many people would love to have lived. As a Zoologist, Biologist and Adventurer, he comes across as a combination of Indiana Jones and The Crocodile Hunter. His interests were wide, but he is known for his investigations into special attention to the search for lake monsters, Vile Vortices, sea serpents, Mokèlé-mbèmbé, Yeti, surviving Pteradons, and Sasquatch.

Meet Bigfoot
He is the author of 19 books, from Caribbean Treasure to UninvitedVisitors: A Biologist Looks At UFOs. His early works concentrated on the Natural World, but more and more he ran across things he couldn’t explain, and which his colleagues ignored.
Flying Saucers are here!
In the late 1940’s, Ivan developed a passion for the Unexplained, his term for all of the creatures and objects that resisted discovery. While continuing to travel the world, he began to hear accounts of animals that weren’t in any biology textbook. This spurred him on to look deeper.
One incident took place in the Amazon. While following the Amazon River, he and several companions watched a creature flying along the river. The distinctly reptilian creature had a wingspan wider than that of the river’s twenty-foot width. From the crest on the back of its head, Sanderson surmised that it had been a Pteranodon, an extinct flying reptile from the Age of Dinosaurs. He and fellow biologisBernard Heuvelmans conducted an extensive study of the Loch Ness Monster. 
Nessie
His further investigations showed that there were extraordinary creatures out in Nature that Science had not, and would not, recognize as existing. In 1947, Sanderson coined the word “Cryptozoology,” which means the study of unknown animals. That term has been embraced by many researchers who now have a field of study to define their investigations.
He became a regular guest on radio shows such as the Long John NebelShow. His visits were very popular, and his reports had everyone glued to their radios. On one such program, he gave a detailed account of the Flatwoods Monster from 1952. Here is that show, presented on YouTube.
His impact on y life has been huge. My first book by Mr. Sanderson had a title I could not ignore: Abominable Snowmen – Legend Come To Life. I ordered my copy from my local library, and in a few weeks, I received a 2nd edition copy of this famous work. I couldn’t believe my luck. That summer, I read the 700-page book twice. I had chills just thinking that such creatures could be found in almost every one of the United States, as well as all over the world. This book sits proudly on my permanent bookshelf.
Another book came my way from my library a few months later. Actually, there were two books. Things and More Things came as a real surprise to me. I had never even imagined the things I found in these two wonderful books. Both books pulled me into a World of Weird and Wonderful concerns such as Flying Saucers; Telepathic Ants; Rocks that Sing–and Kill; “Abominable Snowmen” in Europe and America; Vile Vortices: Water Monsters; Giant Skulls; Living Dinosaurs; The Minnesota Iceman; Frozen Mammoths; Animal ESP and Odd Space Visitors.
I spent many an hour of my youth in the company of Sanderson’s books. In fact, when the Minnesota Iceman once paid a visit to the Menlo Park Mall for a week, my brother and I spent an hour in line waiting to find out exactly what lay in that block of ice. It took one look for my brother to get out of there as fast as his legs would take him. Me, I spent about ten minutes staring at what appeared to be a dead caveman frozen in a big floor freezer. It’s a sensation that created a curiosity that has never left me, and one that is hard to explain. I owe it all to Ivan T. Sanderson.