For a dozen years, once a year since 2007, via the blogs Cryptomundo/Cryptozoonews, I have celebrated the announcement of the “Cryptozoologist of the Year.”
The rapid acceleration of successful cryptozoologists has increased the number of individuals who study and chronicle on hidden species. There will not be enough awards for all the great people in the field to win, if we keep the rate going at one a year. Therefore, I shall take this unusual step to award three Golden Yetis for 2019 to a Trinity of Texans of this three “Cryptozoologists of the Year.” Intriguingly, all three have been honored speakers at the annual International Cryptozoology Conferences.
The Trinity of Cryptozoologists for 2019
Cryptozoologist of the Year 2019: Craig Woolheater
Craig Woolheater was born on March 25, 1960. He is our first Cryptozoologist of 2019, the winner of the Golden Yeti.
When he was 9 years old, the story of the Lake Worth Monster hit the front page of the Ft. Worth Star Telegram, and Craig Woolheater started imagining himself investigating the creature. In 1970, Woolheater obtained a copy of John A. Keel’s book Strange Creatures from Time & Space. Then he became interested in Bigfoot, and he saw the movie The Legend of Boggy Creek.
One night in May of 1994, Woolheater had a sighting of a Bigfoot creature. When he got on the Internet in 1997, he started looking up websites and buying books on eBay about Bigfoot & Cryptozoology. He searched long and hard to find a copy of John Keel’s book that he had read in his youth.
Woolheater and his associates formed the Texas Bigfoot Research Center in June of 1999. In January, 2007, the TBRC reorganized as a 501(c)(3), non-profit, scientific research organization. The organization’s name was the Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy. In March 2013, the organization has adopted the name North American Wood Ape Conservancy (NAWAC). He resigned from the organization on July 10, 2010 to focus my attention on other endeavors, such as Cryptomundo. As of December 24, 2013, I have resurrected the original TBRC, the Texas Bigfoot Research Center.
Craig Woolheater have appeared in or contributed to the following TV programs, documentaries and films:
OLN’s Mysterious Encounters: “Caddo Critter”
Southern Fried Bigfoot
Travel Channel’s Weird Travels: “Bigfoot”
History Channel’s MonsterQuest: “Swamp Stalker”
The Wild Man of the Navidad
Destination America’s Monsters and Mysteries in America: Texas Terror, Lake Worth Monster
Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot
Craig Woolheater has organized and hosted two decades of national Bigfoot conferences in Texas.
Cryptozoologist of the Year 2019: Lyle Blackburn
Lyle Blackburn was born October 23, 1966, and is the next Cryptozoologist of 2019.
Lyle Blackburn is a native Texan known for his work in writing, music, and film. He is the author of several acclaimed books, including The Beast of Boggy Creek and Lizard Man, whose subject matter reflects his life-long fascination with legends and sighting reports of unknown creatures. Lyle is also the founder of the rock band, Ghoultown, and narrator/producer of documentary films (see here).
Blackburn is a frequent guest on radio programs such as Coast To Coast AM, and has been featured on numerous television shows airing on Animal Planet, Destination America, Discovery Science, and A&E. In his work with Monsters and Mysteries in America, he served as both consulting producer and special episode host.
As a musician, Lyle has achieved similar success. His band Ghoultown has released eight albums, which have not only earned a loyal worldwide following, but found their way into movies, video games, and numerous live venues across the United States, Canada, and Europe. Highlights include an invitation to write a theme song for iconic horror maven, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. The song’s music video – featuring Elvira herself – was aired on her nationally syndicated show, Movie Macabre.
- The Beast of Boggy Creek: The True Story of the Fouke Monster (Anomalist Books, Mar 1, 2012)
- Lizard Man: The True Story of the Bishopville Monster (Anomalist Books, October 31, 2013)
- Beyond Boggy Creek: In Search of the Southern Sasquatch (Anomalist Books, February 1, 2017)
- Momo: The Strange Case of the Missouri Monster (Anomalist Books, February 26, 2019)
Cryptozoologist of the Year 2019: Ken Gerhard
Ken Gerhard was born October 13, 1967. The third Cryptozoologist of 2019 is Gerhard.
As an American cryptozoologist and author, Gerhard is often featured on various television programs. His works include “Big Bird: Modern Sightings of Flying Monsters”, “Encounters with Flying Humanoids: Mothman, Manbirds, Gargoyles and Other Winged Beasts”, and “A Menagerie of Mysterious Beasts: Encounters with Cryptid Creatures”. He is also the co-author of “Monsters of Texas” (with Nick Redfern).
Ken Gerhard is a cryptozoologist and field investigator of reports of cryptids and mysterious animals around the world including Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, the Chupacabras, Mothman, Thunderbirds and Werewolves.
In addition to co-hosting the History Channel series Missing in Alaska, he has appeared in three episodes of the television series MonsterQuest (History Channel) and was featured in the History Channel special “The Real Wolfman”. Gerhard’s other appearances include Ancient Aliens (History Channel), Legend Hunters (Travel Channel), The Unexplained Files (Science Channel), Paranatural (National Geographic), True Monsters (History Channel), Weird or What? with William Shatner (Syfy), Monsters and Mysteries in America (Destination America), True Supernatural (Destination America), Ultimate Encounters (truTV), Monster Project (Nat Geo Wild) and Shipping Wars (A&E).
Ken has traveled to twenty-six different countries on six continents, and visited many ancient and mysterious sites, from Machu Pichu to Stonehenge.
Cryptozoologist of the Year 2018: Anna Nekaris
Professor Anna Nekaris, Ph. D., Oxford Brookes University in Anthropology and Primate Conservation, research and studies the unique group of evolutionary distinct cryptic primates known as the Asian lorises. Anna Nekaris has verified several new species. Nekaris completed her BA in Anthropology at the University of Missouri Columbia in 1993, followed by a Certificat d’Universite de Primatologie from the Universite de Louis Pasteur Strasbourg France in 1994 and her Ph. D. in Anthropology at Washington University St Louis, USA in 2000. She was the keynote at the International Cryptozoology Conference in April 2019, in Portland, Maine.
Cryptozoologist of the Year 2017: Seth Breedlove
Seth Breedlove has dedicated the beginning of his remarkable filmmaking career to documenting the vanishing midcentury’s legacy of cryptid encounters. Based on his impressive body of growing documentary work, exhibited in several high quality films from his Small Town Monsters production company, this award is well-deserved.
Cryptozoologist of the Year 2016: Karl Shuker
Karl Shuker has dedicated his life to chronicling the scientific stories of cryptids and new animal discoveries. Karl Shuker is familiar to many readers through the body of his work, which includes writing 25 books as of 2016, as well as via his blog, his published articles, and his television appearances.
Cryptozoologist of the Year 2014: Bill Munns
Bill Munns, a Hollywood makeup and special effects artist, gave a 2014 presentation in Yakima, “When Roger Met Patty,” and wrote a 2014 book, When Roger Met Patty, that were the culmination of his seven years of research on the Patterson-Gimlin film.
Cryptozoologist of the Year 2013: Bryan Sykes
The Oxford University geneticist is to be congratulated for his project attempting to confirm or deny any DNA basis for new species from Almas, Bigfoot, and Yeti samples.
Cryptozoologist of the Year 2012: Cliff Barackman
Barackman’s grounded role model membership of the cast of Finding Bigfoot made him an easy pick for 2012.
Cryptozoologist of the Year 2011: Mark Murphy
National Archives researcher Mark Murphy discovered papers detailing for the first time the United States government’s attention to the search for Yetis roaming the mountains of Nepal in the 1950s.
Cryptozoologist of the Year 2010: Ngwe Lwin
Ngwe Lwin is shown asking local people for information about a little-known new primate species, the new Mae Hka snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus strykeri), seen below, which he discovered.
Cryptozoologist of the Year 2009: Gabriele Gentile
Italian researcher Gabriele Gentile holds a Galápagos iguana, a newly-verified pink and black species he discovered in January 2009.
Cryptozoologist of the Year 2008: Andrea Marshall
After over five years of on-site work and confirming lab findings, doctorate candidate Andrea Marshall identified the giant manta ray as a distinctive new species, separate from the reef manta ray. She may have also found evidence of a future new, third species of manta.
The Southeast Sasquatch Association announced the following 2007 Year-End Award Winners:
Cryptozoologist of the Year – (tie)
Cryptozoology Book of the Year
Mysterious America (2007 revised edition) by Loren Coleman
On November 14, 2015, the Lifetime Achievement in Cryptozoology award was presented to Loren Coleman by the 2015 PA MUFON.