I’ve always had a fascination with the bizarre, absurd and supernatural.
Next to ghosts, undiscovered critters are the second most fascinating subject to me when it comes to Fortean phenomenon. I’ve always found humans to be arrogant when it comes to what we haven’t bothered to learn or understand. With every answered question, an exponential amount of questions are added. So that means not everything is known.
That can also mean there is room for error. And when it comes to humans, well, quote Alexander Pope, if you like.
Personally, I don’t rule out that some of these cryptids may exist, but for the time being let’s enjoy the folk tales and myths that the highly imaginative have created.
Halloween is nipping at our heels like a deranged werewolf, so here’s a Top 25 list in the vein of cryptozoology.
|Cryptid: Skunk Ape
Location: Florida and Louisiana
Myth: If you’re a reader of Carl Hiaasen’s books, don’t confuse the Skunk Ape with Skink (a.k.a. Clinton Tyree). This hominid was first spotted in Dade County back in the 1960s. With it comes an unpleasant bouquet, but that’s kind of the running gag with bigfoots. The most famous photos are those taken by an unknown woman along the Myakka River.
Typology: Giant Reptile
Myth: The Congo is rife with undiscovered critters, as you will see with another cryptid that made this list. Nguma Monene is a scaled beastie that resides near the Dongu-Mataba. Two sightings date back to 1961 and 1971 respectively.
Typology: Manatee-Hippotamus hybrid
Myth: Was it one of the last diprotodons before the European enclave sacked the Land Down Under of its fauna? The Bunyip has a similar story to that of the kelpies of the U.K. This one started in 1818 after weird bones were discovered by Hamilton Hume. Bunyip may sound cutesy to us, but it really means “evil spirit” in the aboriginal language.
Myth: Ah, yes, Australia’s Bigfoot. The Yowie has roots in Aboriginal folklore, but the first European sighting can be traced back to 1795. Some have balked that the Yowie didn’t make an appearance until 1975.
Myth: It may just be some creative types in Japan coming up with new anime villains, but a whale research ship came across these humanoid critters while investigating Antarctica.
|Cryptid: Mongolian Death Worm
Location: Gobi desert
Myth: In Soviet Russia, worm gets you for fishing. But it wasn’t until the end of the USSR that word got out that Mongolia had its own sandworm. It is alleged they hang out underground, a la Tremors, shoot venom at their victims and have an electrical charge. Shocking, but apocryphal at best.
Location: Kobern-Gondorf, Germany
Myth: Quite possibly just an overgrown skink, this alpine legend features a long lizard with front limbs and the head of a cat. Given the high altitudes and Bavarian proclivities for grotesque beasts like Krampus, I’m sure somebody hit the elderberry wine a little too hard one day.
Location: The Himalayas
Myth: 1951. Edmund Hilary Expedition. Everest. Shit got weird at 20,000 feet. So much so that the expedition photographer, Eric Shipton, logged it. Even before the Europeans decided to conquer the Lepcha people were talking about a glacier being.
Myth: It’s not really a myth. This is more about our desire to have species that was eradicated come back from the grave. Sheep farmers had a big problem with the Thylacine, or Tasmanian Tiger, hunting their flock, so free reign was given to them from 1830 to 1909 to cull the predators. The rest is history.
Location: Around the world
Typology: Photographic technique
Myth: So, this isn’t exactly a cryptid, but the fascinating spin some paranormal investigators — read charlatans — put on it. Some claim they’re alien lifeforms. Others claim they’re creatures that live in the fourth dimension. Whether a trick of light or a species yet to be discovered, you have to love those charming ufologists.
|Cryptid: The Rake
Myth: It’s a fascinating creation of the Reddit generation. Much like Slenderman, our monsters are now borne out of 1s and 0s. The rake is a creature that elicits mixed emotions from its victims. Those who typically see the rake have a tough go of life afterward.
Location: Lake Okanagan
Typology: Sea Serpent
Myth: Some skeptics like to not that Ogopogo was merely a fictional tale about a water spirit, but tell that to the countless witnesses who have seen
Location: Puerto Rico
Typology: Something ugly
Myth: Is it really just a coyote with mange? That is the question many have asked. All-star skeptic Benjamin Radford has called the beastie the first monster of the internet. I highly doubt it’s an escaped critter from a top secret facility in the Caribbean. But who knows? Animals mutate all the time.
Location: New Zealand
Typology: Giant bird
Myth: The moa is pretty much extinct, but much like the thylacine there are those who wish for the giant flightless bird to still be alive. There are pushes in New Zealand to revive the species since they have soft tissue evidence found in 1874.
|Cryptid: Beast of Gevaudan
Typology: Big, bad wolf
Myth: During the late 18th-century a big, bad wolf terrorized the former province of Gevaudan in France. It’s a story that begs the big screen treatment, wherein 1764 a beast attacked a woman tending cattle, and later killed teenager Janne Boulet. The death of the creature came at the silver bullet of a man named Jean
Location: United States (predominantly the West Coast)
Myth: Bigfoot, Sasquatch or wild man. Whatever you want to call the Harry to the world’s Hendersons, we’ve been captivated by another hominid walking the earth. They’ve been reported since 1840 when First Nations in Washington State reported giants living among them, stealing their salmon
|Cryptid: Jersey Devil
Location: Pine Barrens, N.J.
Myth: Back in 1795, Deborah Leeds had her 13th child. The child appeared normal at first, but then grew hooves, bat wings and a forked tail. My guess is, somebody ate a bad batch of psychotropic mushrooms. Ever since that fateful day, however, the people of the Garden State have witnessed a beastie in the Pine Barrens. There’s even a pro sports team named after it.
Location: Greensburg, PA
Typology: Giant Bird
Myth: Simply put, the Piasa, as pictured, or the Thunderbird, could be a misidentified eagle, hawk or in the West, a condor. But the fact that a giant bird has been a prevailing theme throughout multiple cultures, from the totems out in British Columbia to the artwork outside of St. Louis.
Location: Point Pleasant, West Virginia
Typology: Flying Bug-Eyed Demon Spawn
Myth: Since 2002, the residents of Point Pleasant have an annual Mothman festival. I don’t know if it celebrates the 1966 series of events that concluded with the collapse of the Silver Bridge or works as a memorial.
|Cryptid: Gef the Talking Mongoose
Location: Dalby, Isle of Man
Myth: Quite possibly one of the most bizarre hoaxes of the 20th century, Gef was a talking mongoose who taunted the Irvings on their farmstead. It was suspected that the teenage daughter, Voirrey, was performing ventriloquism with a tiny rat-sized mongoose that said it hailed from New Delhi.
|Cryptid: The Beast of Bodmin Moor
Location: Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, U.K.
Typology: Big Cat
Myth: Back in the 1970s, this black cat sent England into a stir. Was there a cryptid stalking farmers’ sheep in Cornwall? Naw, it was probably some rich guy’s exotic pet that jailbreaked a la Steve McQueen.
Location: Congo River Basin
Myth: Mokele-Mbembe was made famous by a Disney film from 1985, but since some French missionary, Bonaventure, wrote about the apatosaurus inhabiting the Congo, people have been trying to find it.
Location: Cadboro Bay, Victoria, British Columbia
Typology: Sea Serpent
Myth: Since 1930, British Columbians have been witnessing a bizarre reptile in varying states — from decay to swimming off the coast of the province’s capital.
Location: Atlantic Ocean
Myth: Since the 13th century, when the Vikings toured the oceans, the tales of something unnatural lurking just beneath the cresting waves kept the landlubbers entertained and the mariners in business.
|Cryptid: Loch Ness Monster
Myth: The most famous shot, the Surgeon’s Photo, has been surfacing as a hoax, and then resurfacing as a legit piece. Loch Ness certainly has a history, and whether or not it’s inhabited by a plesiosaur is up to evidence, which is scant at best.