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12 Legendary Cryptids and Mythical Monsters of Cryptozoology

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With interests in science and nature, the author explores topics from a unique and sometimes controversial perspective.

Some say there are strange creatures in the world, living just beyond the sight of modern science.

Some say there are strange creatures in the world, living just beyond the sight of modern science.

In every corner of the world, ingrained in just about every culture, there are tales of paranormal creatures that lurk on the fringes of human understanding. Stories of sightings and encounters are passed from generation to generation, and legends grow.

Some of these creatures turn out to be real and are accepted into mainstream zoology. Others refuse to give up their secrets despite decades or even centuries of research.

The study of these unknown animals is called cryptozoology, which means literally the study of hidden animals. The researchers who study cryptozoology are called cryptozoologists and the creatures themselves are known as cryptids.

Some cryptozoologists are mainstream biologists or scientists who study cryptozoology on the side. Others are involved in completely separate careers and consider cryptozoology as a hobby. But despite the work of some really smart people over the years, cryptozoology is still considered a pseudo-science.

That’s a nice way of saying that some of the people who think of themselves as real scientists laugh it off as a bunch of rubbish.

It’s really a shame because it’s clear that people around the world are having incredible experiences. They believe they are seeing animals that defy our understanding of nature, and they desperately need someone to uncover the truth. Fortunately, for just about every cryptid there is a stalwart and dedicated group of cryptozoologists hot on its trail.

Here is a list of a few of the paranormal creatures they might find someday if we are lucky. Scroll down to learn more about each mythical monster.

1. Bigfoot

Without a doubt, Bigfoot is the best-known and most widely documented of all the cryptids. Called Sasquatch, the Yeti, and Skunk Ape among other names, if you believe witnesses it seems to exist just about everywhere. The most prevalent theory is that it is a species of undiscovered hominid, possibly closely related to humans.

While there have been all kinds of compelling evidence over the years, the most famous is probably the Patterson-Gimlin footage from 1967.

In this clip, a Sasquatch is shown crossing a washed-out creek bed and disappearing into the forest. The cameraman gives chase, but his film runs out.

Some primatologists have reviewed the film and vouched for its apparent authenticity, while critics believe it was an elaborate hoax.

And then there are also those who call Roger Patterson’s motivation into question, as he apparently went into the field that day with the intention of filming a Sasquatch.

With shows like Finding Bigfoot gaining popularity, and organizations like the BFRO hard at work, there is more research being conducted on Bigfoot than ever. Hopefully, some answers are right around the corner.

Where did Bigfoot come from? One theory is that it evolved from an ancient ape called Gigantopithecus Blacki. This massive creature stood ten feet tall and may have walked on two legs. During the time when humans migrated to the Americas via the Bering Land Bring, descendants of Gigantopithecus may have followed.

2. The Loch Ness Monster

Nessie is another cryptid that has captured our imagination over the decades, this one of the aquatic variety. It is supposedly a large, heavy-bodied creature with a long neck and flippers which lives in Scotland's Loch Ness, a deep, freshwater lake.

While stories of a creature in Loch Ness have circulated around the local area for centuries, it was the Surgeon’s Photo in 1933 that launched the current Nessie craze. Since then, dozens if not hundreds of people have claimed to have spotted the beast. But of course, there are naysayers.

One problem is that the Surgeon's Photo turned out to be fake, nothing more than a cardboard cutout and a toy submarine. Another problem is that numerous researchers have noted there isn’t enough life in Loch Ness to support a population of such large creatures.

Finally, others have reasoned that if there really is a population of such creatures in the lake, and they breathe air, they should be spotted all the time when they come to the surface.

Nevertheless, some remain determined to prove the existence of the Loch Ness Monster, especially since there are similar creatures spotted in other large lakes around the world. Some think they might be a species of ancient marine reptiles such as a plesiosaur.

3. El Chupacabra

The goatsucker. Said to come in the dark of night and feed on the blood of livestock like some kind of alien vampire, El Chupacabra was first reported in Puerto Rico in 1995.

Farmers began to find their animals dead in the field, with puncture wounds on their necks and drained of all their blood. Witnesses spotted a strange creature lurking about, with large eyes, sharp claws and fangs, and spikes down the middle of its back. The beast terrorized Puerto Rico and then spread out to other Latin American countries.

Eventually, it came to America as well, but this chupacabra was different than the others. Here it took the form of a strange, four-legged creature, almost like a deranged dog.

In 2008 police officers in Texas filmed the beast running down a dirt road. While many experts believe the American chupacabras are really just cases of diseased coyotes or other canids, there are some who are not so convinced.

What is the chupacabra and where did it come from? And if it isn’t real, what has been killing livestock and leaving their flesh but taking their blood? Theories range from government genetic experiments to UFO involvement, but nobody knows for sure.

4. The Mapinguari

In the jungles of South America lives a bizarre and ferocious creature that terrifies local tribes. This massive beast is said to have long claws, backward-facing feet, and a mouth in the center of its stomach. It is known as the Mapinguari.

It may sound crazy, but cryptozoologists believe there may be a real creature behind these Mapingauri sightings. An ancient giant ground sloth known as Megatherium matches the description of this bizarre creature. They were thought to have gone extinct thousands of years ago, but some researchers think a population may still exist deep in the South American jungles.

Giant ground sloths had long claws, probably for grasping vegetation or digging, but also for defense. Their funny feet might be seen as “backward” and even glands on their stomachs could be described as a “mouth”.

The largest of them were over 20 feet from head to tail, so it’s easy to see how an unsuspecting person would be terrified at the sight of such an animal.

Despite several expeditions to find the Mapinguari, as of yet the jungles refuse to give up their secret.

5. The Megalodon Shark

Megalodon was a massive predatory shark that dwarfed even the largest great white. The largest specimens reached lengths of 60 feet, and they routinely ate whales and other large marine mammals.

Mainstream science says this shark went extinct thousands of years, but there are those who believe Megalodon still may exist today. Meg may have adapted and evolved over time, from a coastal hunter to a deep-water shark.

Or, it may simply live in areas that humans do not frequent.

There are several accounts of very large sharks harassing boats over the past hundred years or so, but nothing definitively can tell us if the Megalodon is still out there or not. The ocean is such a vast place, and it is conceivable that many large creatures exist out there that are still to be discovered.

The existence of Megalodon is a frightening possibility. If it decided humans were a food source no beach or small boat in the world would be safe from this monster.

The Megalodon Shark is three times the size of a great white shark.

The Megalodon Shark is three times the size of a great white shark.

6. Errant Kangaroos

We all know about kangaroos that live in Australia, but what about the ones that live in North America? For at least a century people have been spotting what has come to be called errant or phantom kangaroos in the United States.

A few theories exist to explain what they are, and why they are in North America. The most obvious is that they are escaped animals, refugees from zoos, or private collections. It may be that they have established a breeding population in the United States and have found a niche.

Perhaps an even more interesting theory is that there are an unknown species of kangaroo in America. Researchers believe the ancestors of kangaroos evolved in the Americas, so it’s not a far stretch to imagine that the North American Kangaroo and the Australian Red Kangaroo may have evolved from the same species.

As compelling as this is, it’s hard to imagine where they all would be hiding. Perhaps, like Bigfoot, they have learned to stay away from humans and avoid the areas where we tread.

Is the North American Kangaroo a real possibility?

7. Orang Pendek

The people who live on the fringes of the jungle on the island of Sumatra know of a bizarre human-like creature that dwells within. They call it Orang Pendek, and describe it as short and covered with hair, resembling an ape but walking on two legs, peaceful but dangerous if cornered. To those of us in the west, it sounds like a mini-Bigfoot.

Sightings of Orang Pendek go back to the first Dutch settlers on the island, in the early part of the 20th century. In their journals and correspondence, they described surprise encounters with a short, bipedal ape, but of course, locals already knew of the creature.

Several expeditions have sought the Orang Pendek over the years, but like Bigfoot, it leaves us with nothing but plaster footprint casts and an occasional eyewitness sighting.

Most believe Orang Pendek is a species of undiscovered hominid, possibly a rare ape species. Some say it could be more closely related to us and within the genus Homo.

8. Living Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago as a result of a worldwide catastrophe, most likely the impact of some large object from space.

Some cryptozoologists say maybe not—at least not all of them. In equatorial Africa, near the Congo River, there are reports of strange animals that sure sound a whole lot like dinosaurs. The terrain, as well as local political situations, often present issues for researchers who are dying to get into the area and investigate.

But according to interviews with local tribes, there may be sauropod, stegosaur, and ceratopsian dinosaurs roaming Africa even today!

It may sound like a stretch, and just because there might be unusual animals doesn’t mean they are dinosaurs. After all, without seeing the creature firsthand and just going by the description, these may well be new species of rhinos or other large mammals.

But here’s the most interesting part: When researchers show indigenous people pictures of animals, some of which they have seen before and others they couldn’t possibly know, routinely they point to dinosaurs as the creatures they claim to see.

Given the history of Africa and the climate changes that followed the alleged event that killed off the dinosaurs, it’s hard to imagine how these creatures managed to avoid extinction. But if a real dinosaur is discovered in Africa it would surely change everything we know about these animals!

Could some dinosaurs still be alive today, awaiting rediscovery in the dark forests of the world?

Could some dinosaurs still be alive today, awaiting rediscovery in the dark forests of the world?

9. Mermaids

We all know mermaids, those pretty little half-fish, half-female creatures from beneath the sea. But are mermaids legitimate beings within the realm of cryptozoology, or are they to be relegated to the realm of superstition and myth?

For ancient sailors, they were all too real, and much more fearsome than any of our modern renditions would lead us to believe. Mermaids of yore might sink a ship, pull a sailor off the deck to his doom, or beguile a pirate out of his treasure.

Back then, experts say, the hallucinations of sailors who had spent far too long out on the open ocean were responsible for the rash of mermaid “sightings”.

But the fact remains that mermaid sightings reach far across the globe, to all different cultures through antiquity. Could there be a real creature out there, similar to what we call a mermaid?

For some researchers, Aquatic Ape Theory goes a long way toward explaining how mermaids may have come about through the process of evolution, and how there may really be a species of aquatic humanoid out there in the oceans of the world. It’s a wild premise, and if it’s true it could mean mermaids are really out there.

10. The Mothman

While certainly high up on the list of paranormal creatures, the Mothman may or may not be considered a cryptid, depending on your personal theory. The creature first appeared back in 1966 in the area of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Multiple eyewitnesses reported a large humanoid creature with glowing eyes and huge wings.

In one report, a pair of married couples claimed they were out for a drive at night and encountered the beast, which chased them down the road and kept pace with their car at speeds of up to 100 mph.

Mothman sightings continued until the tragic collapse of the Silver Bridge in Point Pleasant on December 15th, 1967. Some witnesses claimed to spot the creature in the vicinity of the bridge just prior to the disaster, leading to speculation that the Mothman may have been an omen of some kind.

Or worse, it may have come to cause the disaster. (Note: The official cause of the collapse was faulty design and overcapacity, two perfectly worldly issues.)

Today, people claim sightings of the beast around major disasters where human lives are lost. Speculation on the identity of the creature has ranged from angelic to demonic, to alien. But skeptics say the Mothman is just a case of mistaken identity and can be explained by a large owl or other bird and a runaway imagination.

11. The Jersey Devil

The Pine Barrens of New Jersey is a foreboding place, even today. Go back a few hundred years and no doubt they were even more terrifying, especially if you knew the story of the Jersey Devil.

As the legend goes (one version of it anyway) a woman who already had too many children became pregnant once again. Before the child was born she cursed it and said the Devil could have it. On the day of its birth, she got her wish.

The child turned out to be a demon, the Jersey Devil, and it flew up the chimney and out into the forest.

It may sound like a wild superstition, but one thing for certain is that during a brief period in 1909 the Jersey Devil apparently terrorized people from the Pine Barrens to the Jersey coast, and even into Pennsylvania.

Over 50 separate sightings were reported involving hundreds of people. Police officers shot at the beast to no avail, and a group of firemen who turned a hose on the creature was nearly attacked. New Jersey was in the midst of Devil mania, and the monster seemed to be everywhere.

Today sightings have died down, but the Jersey Devil is still seen on occasion. Skeptics claim the creature is actually a Sandhill Crane or other bird seen under unusual circumstances. But those who encounter the Jersey Devil and live to tell about know what they saw.

The Jersey Devil, as depicted during the 1909 sightings outbreak.

The Jersey Devil, as depicted during the 1909 sightings outbreak.

12. Phantom Cats

Huge black cats are prowling the English countryside, frightening locals, and terrorizing livestock. They are most often described as black panthers or leopards, but whatever their species do not belong in Great Britain.

What are they, and how did they get there?

There are two primary theories that may explain phantom cats. The first is these are animals, or the descendants of animals, released into the wild by careless big-cat owners.

The second says that the cats are the descendants of animals left behind by U.S. servicemen after World War II. Either way, there is a chilling implication here: Alien big cats seem to have established a breeding population in England. It could mean the evolution of a whole new species of predatory cat if it hasn’t happened already.

This is what authorities in the Sydney area of Australia decided after a big cat study several years ago. Big cats have gained a foothold in Australia, and are now breeding.

In the United States, too, big black cats have been spotted. Phantom cats seem to be everywhere. Is it possible big cat species are more resilient than we ever imagined?

More Cryptids and Paranormal Creatures

What other animals are out there still to be discovered? Will the cryptid of today be the new species of tomorrow? Most serious cryptozoologists enter the field hoping for new discoveries, not trying to prove whimsical and fantastic theories. If they did not believe the existence of these animals was possible, they would not be wasting their time or putting their reputations on the line.

The giant squid, mountain gorilla, and giant panda were all thought of as legendary creatures until they were officially discovered. The coelacanth was thought to have gone extinct millions of years ago until someone found a live one.

There are definitely new discoveries out there waiting for us. The question is, who will have the guts to find them?

Hey, maybe it will be you! There are many mysteries out there to solve, and this list of paranormal creatures is only a beginning.

Paranormal Creatures Poll

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


cripythunter on November 22, 2019:

ive had many sightings in my life but one that happend in wyalusing pa in badford county sothing jumped over the school fence it had red eyes and it was the size of a 2yr or 3yr old i think it was a golem or somthing else can you help ive being seeing visons and seeing random figures outside and geting creepy vibes when i turn my back... can you clarifie if it is a golem

cryptid (author) from USA on August 14, 2018:

@LadyWithNoName - You can check my profile page for all of the articles I've written. I think most cryptids are at least theoretically dangerous. That's part of what fascinates us about them. Good luck with your story!

LadyWithNoName on August 09, 2018:

Did you make any articles about dangerous crypdids. I use my free time to write and the animé and live action movie “Death Note” have inspired me to write a story based off of a being that is yet to be proved real by science. I’m sorry that this isn’t a really cool story that I saw a mermaid or something, but I hope to do some research for the story idea. I wouldn’t be disappointed if you don’t have an article, you are just my go-to website for things like this. Thanks in advance for your help.

Jim Leahy on June 11, 2018:

Ifind your articals facinating youve realy researched throughly. pardon my spelling.Im in between pairs of glasses.

JC28 on May 07, 2018:

I was wondering a few years ago it was early in the morning and I was walking to my bus stop I heard some rustling in the woods and saw some red eyes looking at me and looked to be about 4-5 feet at the shoulder and seemed large and once it realized I was looking at it, it darted and leapted across the road and took off not seeing it again I was wanting to know what i saw and wondered if you know what it is

Boston97 on November 03, 2017:

When I was in the 8th grade me and my friend were walking around our neighborhood and it was pretty late and all of the sudden we heard something that sounded like a lion and it was pretty close to us and then 3 years later me and my family moved to a new house and one night I was sitting out side and across the street i saw something big and white jump over a fence like it was nothing and then later that week I noticed there was no cats in my neighborhood anymore and usually there’s a lot of cats but after that night there were no cats and then I heard the exact same noise that I did that unforgettable night and then 4 years later in 2017 I heard it again in my front yard and I was truly terrified and my dog heard it too and I was just wondering if someone could help me what the hell “it” is

cryptid (author) from USA on October 29, 2017:

Hi Nina. Pukwudgies are creepy little beings of Native American folklore. They try to trick humans and cause harm. If one approaches you it is best not to listen to it, and if you see one you ought not to mess with it. According to folklore, of course. :-)

cryptid (author) from USA on October 19, 2017:

@Kikio: Nahuelito is a lake monster. There are a few alleged photographs out there. I've done an article about North American lake monsters but not South American.

Kikio on October 18, 2017:

what about Nahuelito form Patagonia, Argentina or Kelpie

Kole Foster on March 19, 2016:

I think that the gigantopithecus (bigfoot) could totally still live because if you read many bigfoot descriptions they match the description of this extinct ape but also if you think about it in the ice age a family of these apes could have been frozen in a giant block of ice and then melted a few thousand years ago and re-populated. In addition they were actually capable of walking on their back legs therefore overtime they could have developed this skill into a full time way of walking.

cryptid (author) from USA on December 30, 2014:

Interesting encounter, Brett! Thanks for posting it!

Brett Hoover from Livingston on December 29, 2014:

Just this year I followed a creature in broad daylight that could only be described as something that resembled a chupacabra. It was dog like in appearance in the face and most of the body except its hind legs were made for jumping and I was lucky enough to see it in action as it jumped over a six foot fence with ease. This was an informative and interesting article.

jacob conteas on December 01, 2014:

While we were in africa we saw a strange thing a dog that looked like a cat is it a mixed breed or what

cryptid (author) from USA on July 01, 2014:

Yikes, mystery22. Without more info I couldn't even guess what it was. It wouldn't be a dog/cat mix, unless it was some kind of mad scientist experiment. Maybe you spotted an unknown critter!

mystery22 on July 01, 2014:

While we were in africa we saw a strange thing a dog that looked like a cat is it a mixed breed or what

cryptid (author) from USA on May 13, 2013:

Definitely possible, smcgavin1. Especially in cases like phantom cats and errant kangaroos, and even some skunk ape sightings in Florida are attributed to escaped primates like chimps or orangutans.

Sean McGavin from Bowling Green, Ohio on May 13, 2013:

There used to be a pet store near where I lived as a kid that sold Wallabies (or at least a Wallaby at one point), how many of these do you think could be instances of some sort of exotic pet who escaped like the Iguanas and pythons in south Florida?