Museum Accepts Cryptic Collection

From Yeti, the reputed "Abominable Snowman" of the Himalayas, to real creatures such as the Tasmanian tiger thought to have vanished in 1936, improbable beasts called "cryptids" now have a new shrine.

Last month the French zoologist known as the father of cryptozoology, 83-year-old Bernard Heuvelmans, donated his collection of more than 50,000 documents, photos, and specimens to the Museum of Zoology in Lausanne, Switzerland. Heuvelmans, co-founder of the Tucson-based International Society of Cryptozoology, "applied a zoologist's approach to this elusive topic," says the museum's director, zoologist Michel Sartori.

So far, Sartori says, he's heard no complaints that the museum--which also houses novelist Vladimir Nabokov's 4500-butterfly collection--is dipping into pseudoscience. Indeed, cryptozoologists have claimed some successes over the years: A few creatures have emerged from lore into reality, such as the mountain gorilla (found in Rwanda in 1902) and the coelacanth (a fish from 80 million years ago discovered off the South African coast in 1938).