Karl Shuker

Karl Shuker bigraphy, stories - British zoologist

Karl Shuker : biography

1959 –

Karl Shuker (born 1959) is a British zoologist, cryptozoologist and author. He currently lives in Midlands, England, where he works as a zoological consultant and writer.

A trained zoologist, Shuker is known for his contributions to the field of cryptozoology, bringing public attention to recently discovered or rediscovered species in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and for his published works in the discipline. A columnist in Fortean Times and contributor to various magazines, Shuker is also the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Cryptozoology, which began in November 2012. 

Critical reception

In a 1996 review of Shuker’s book Dragons: A Natural History in Natural History, Richard Ellis discussed the "impressive assortment of illustrations," as well as Shuker’s coverage of dragon imagery and icons throughout history, but criticized a lack of focus on "the ‘real’ animals held to be responsible for some of the dragon or sea serpent stories, such as the crocodile, the Komodo dragon, the African rock python, and the oarfish."

Ellis found fault with coverage of "aquatic serpent dragons" such as the Loch Ness monster, lamenting that "despite corroborated evidence that the famous Loch Ness monster's 'surgeon's photograph' was a hoax, [...] 'Nessie' is one of the contemporary 'dragons' in this book." 

In June 1997 Shuker criticized Fortean Times publisher Mike Dash, who has described most reports of strange phenomena to be products of the imagination, to which Shuker stated, "there are some intriguing pieces of evidence for the existence of a large underwater mammal in Loch Ness, not least the sonar soundings of 1972 which showed the presence of a 6-ft flipper."

However, in a 1998 Sunday Times interview, Shuker suggested that the Loch Ness monster was losing traction, with more attention going toward large cat sightings, stating, "They're more tangible," and that "[a]ny scientist who these days decides to take the Loch Ness monster seriously knows that it will damage his reputation." 

Reviewing Shuker’s 2003 book The Beasts that Hide from Man, Mark Bayless described the work as "thought provoking and well researched," contrasting Shuker’s work favorably against other cryptozoology texts as providing a "scholarly, reader-friendly format," and addressing a wider range of cryptids that are not covered in comparable sources.

A March 2013 review of the Journal of Cryptozoology in Brazilian journal Revista Piauí was generally positive regarding Shuker’s efforts at a scientific approach to documenting cryptozoological findings, noting an article which put forth a giant oarfish as the most likely candidate to explain a recent sighting, but noted the professional challenges that cryptozoological researchers seeking to document findings may face, suggesting some are met with ridicule from colleagues due to a large portion of the cryptozoological community not being scientifically regarded.


Shuker received a BSc(Hons) in zoology from the University of Leeds and a PhD in zoology and comparative physiology from the University of Birmingham. He is a Scientific Fellow of the Zoological Society of London, a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society, a consultant for the Centre for Fortean Zoology, and a member of the Society of Authors.Newton, Michael, 2005, Encyclopedia of Cryptozoology: A Global Guide (McFarland & Co, Inc: Jefferson), p. 425: "Today, he [Shuker] is globally recognized as an author and researcher on all aspects of animal life and unexplained phenomena, the heir apparent to Heuvelmans himself."

Some of his larger works include Mystery Cats of the World (1989), The Lost Ark: New and Rediscovered Animals of the 20th Century (1993; expanded in 2002 as The New Zoo), and In Search of Prehistoric Survivors (1995), as well as two worldwide bestsellers – Dragons: A Natural History (1995; reissued in 2006), and The Unexplained (1996; reissued in 2002). Shuker also published Star Steeds and Other Dreams, a book of poetry which appeared in 2009.