Ivan T. Sanderson

Ivan Terence Sanderson (30 January 1911 – 19 February 1973) was a British-American biologist, explorer, writer, and pioneer of cryptozoology.

Cryptozoological workEdit

Sanderson's 1948 article "There Could be Dinosaurs" reportedly first inspired Bernard Heuvelmans.[1][2]

Heuvelmans credited Sanderson with inventing the word "cryptozoology" independently when Sanderson was a student, which would have been at Eton College in the 1920s. He also coined the terms globster, proto-pigmy, sub-hominid, and sub-human.[1]

Cryptozoological sightingsEdit

Olitiau, William Rebsamen

Depiction of Sanderson's olitiau encounter by William Rebsamen.

As well as researching cryptids, Sanderson made several sightings of his own. He reported the only known sighting of the olitiau in 1932, whilst participating in the Percy Sladen Expedition. It appeared to him and Gerald Russell after the stopped to retrieve a hammer-headed bat they had shot:[3]

"Then I let out a shout also and instantly bobbed down under the water, because, coming straight at me only a few feet above the water was a black thing the size of an eagle. I had only a glimpse of its face, yet that was quite sufficient, for its lower jaw hung open and bore a semicircle of pointed white teeth set about their own width apart from each other. When I emerged, it was gone. ... And just before it became too dark to see, it came again, hurtling back down the river, its teeth chattering, the air "shss-shssing" as it was cleft by the great, black, dracula-like wings."

In 1937, Sanderson caused some controversy when he captured the first male specimen of Shreve's lightbulb lizard, which he claimed was bioluminescent. Several experiments carried out by other scientists failed to find any evidence of bioluminescence.[4]

In November 1948, whilst being flown above the Suwannee River south of Old Town, Sanderson and his pilot both saw a large, yellowish animal rolling on the surface of the water, creating a large patch of foam. George Eberhart categorises this as a three-toes sighting.[1]

In June 1965, Sanderson and Walter McGraw heard a loud "WOOoo" cry repeated at Sanderson's farmhouse near Columbia, New Jersey. It grew in intensity, then faded away. They thought it was coming from a bird flying along Kittatinny Mountain.[1]

He also claimed to have encountered the mitla during an animal collecting trip to Bolivia, and attempted unsuccessfully to shoot one. He did manage to acquire a legless native skin, which he compared to "that of a huge black serval with pricked ears and tiny lynx-like tail. Regrettably, however, he did not mention what happened to this cryptozoologically priceless skin afterwards."[Expansion needed][5]


Notes and referencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Eberhart, George (2002) Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology
  2. Coleman, Loren & Clark, Jerome (1999) Cryptozoology A to Z
  3. Sanderson, Ivan T. (1937) Animal Treasure
  5. Shuker, Karl (2012) Cats of Magic, Mythology and Mystery