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10 Legendary Monsters of North America: Part One

Legendary monsters "exist," if only in legend, all over the world. The series of monsters continues with a look at a few strange stories from North America.

1. Chupacabra

Chupacabra means goat sucker. The legendary animal is said to roam through Mexico, southwest USA, and Puerto Rico as well as other areas. The Chupacabra is blamed for mysterious livestock deaths, and examples of Chupacabras have been found and photographed, usually dead. The creature is described variously as resembling a hairless bear, sometimes with spikes on its back, or a hairless dog-like animal. Some of the carcasses and photographs have been studied and turned out to be coyotes with a severe case of mange. Image by DeviantART member Raenyras.

2. Loogaroo

Loogaroo are demons that haunt the West Indies, particularly Haiti, Grenada, and the Dominican Republic. The name is a corruption of loup garou, the French werewolf. The Loogaroo is sometimes described as a witch or a vampire, but often is a shapeshifter that holds all the attributes of other monsters. This monster sucks blood from innocent victims, which is given to the devil in exchange for magical powers. The Loogaroo is closely related to the Soucouyant of Trinidad and Guadeloupe. If the Loogaroo sucks out too much blood, the victim will die and become a Loogaroo himself.

3. La Llorona

Disquiet

La Llorona means "the weeping woman." This legendary ghost of New Mexico was once a beautiful woman named Maria. She rejected most of her suitors, and married the most handsome young ranchero around. They were happy together for a time, and she bore two sons. But the handsome husband grew bored and turned to other women and ignored Maria. He even preferred the company of his sons over her, which drove her to a jealous rage one night and she threw the two boys in the Santa Fe River and they drowned. In another version of the story, the children died while Maria was away cavorting with other men. Either way, she was responsible for their deaths, and could not bear the guilt. Maria walked the riverside in her white gown, crying for her sons, until she died of starvation on the river bank. Her ghost came back and continued the vigil, wailing and screaming in the night. Now called La Llorana, she attacks those who venture to the river at night, looking to kill people in her grief. The tale is also told along other rivers of the Southwest, and is used to scare children away from the dark, dangerous waters. Photograph by Flickr user Mikamatto.

4. Hodag


The Hodag (Bovinus spiritualis) is a ferocious animal native to Wisconsin. The black Hodag was first discovered in 1893 and is the largest of the several Hodag species. It has two horns and a series of spikes along its spine. There are also the Sidehill Dodge Hodag, the Cave Hodag, and the Shovel-nose Hodag. See more pictures of the Hodag.

5. El Sombrerón

El Sombrerón is the man with the big hat. He is short and wears a thick belt and heavy boots. The legend in Guatemala tells of him always wearing a black hat, while he victimizes young women.

The legend goes that a young girl named Susana in La Recolección – yeah, she had pretty hair and big ol’ peepers (that means eyes) – was admiring the moon and stars from her balcony one night when she was approached and serenaded by a man in a big hat. Worried and upset that their daughter was outside so late, Susana’s parents forced her to come inside. The man in the hat returned and serenaded her each night, making it impossible for her to sleep, and whenever her parents would try to feed her, she’d find the food contaminated with dirt. Fed up, the parents cut the girl’s hair and had it blessed by a priest – naturally, this caused the goblin to stop bothering her, either because of the holy water or because he didn’t like chicks with pixie cuts.

El Sombrerón has a habit of braiding the hair on horses and dogs when no one is around. A similar goblin is also called Tzizimite, and other names depending on the local language. The legend casts him as a general bogeyman of Mexico. A similar legend in El Salvador is called Cipitio, who is a short boy with backward feet, and, of course, a big hat. El Cipito pursues pretty girls and torments them if they reject his advances. Altogether, this useful tale is told to keep young girls from flirting with strange men.

6. Skunk Ape

The Skunk Ape appears now and again throughout the American Deep South, from Oklahoma to North Carolina, but most sightings have been reported in Florida. The creature gets its name from its awful odor. In 2000, an anonymous letter accompanied several photographs purporting to show an ape in Myakka City, Florida. The writer of the letter seemed to think this was an escaped orangutan, but no missing ape was reported. Later, an investigation was launched over a horse that was injured by an unknown animal in the same area. Photograph by David Barkasy and Loren Coleman.

7. Gowrow

The Gowrow was first reported in Arkansas in 1897. It lives in the lakes and caves of Arkansas and got its name from the horrible sounds it makes. The Gowrow was described as a twenty-foot-long reptile with enormous tusks that ate livestock. One enterprising Arkansan claimed to have captured a Gowrow, and would let the public see it for a small price of admittance. But just before the reveal, he announced the Gowrow had escaped. The audience was so busy running in terror that no one asked for their money back! Image by Gustav.

8. Jackalope

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The Jackalope (Lepus temperamentalus) is a cross between a rabbit and an antelope (or sometimes a goat or deer) seen over most parts of the United States. Jackalopes only mate during electrical storms. They can be caught by using whiskey as bait, which will render them easier to sneak up on. Jackalope milk is supposed to have medicinal qualities. The legend of the Jackalope may have come from sightings of rabbits infected with the Shope papillomavirus, which causes hornlike growths. The Jackalope is rumored to be extinct, but can be seen in taxidermy shops everywhere. Photograph by Flickr user Paul-W.

9. The Loveland Frog

Loveland, Ohio, has multiple sightings recorded of an unusual reptile, which has become known as the Loveland Frog. The most famous sighting was by police officer Ray Shockey in 1972. He saw an animal lying beside the road, and when he approached, it got up on two legs and ran away! He described it as three to four feet tall, about 60 pounds, with a face like a frog or lizard. Officer Mark Matthews had a similar encounter a couple of weeks later. The story grew as it was retold, and the original officers say they never thought the creature was a monster, but possibly an escaped pet. However, there have been other sightings, particularly one from 1955. A businessman reported that he saw three creatures beside the road that were three to four feet tall and had wrinkles on their heads instead of hair, and webbed hands and feet. The most bizarre thing about the earlier sighting is that one of the creatures waved a wand that emitted sparks! Image by Cathy Wilkins.

10. The Beast of Bladenboro

The Beast of Bladenboro is a huge catlike monster. Beginning in late 1953, Bladenboro, North Carolina was the scene of unexplained attacks. A farmer saw a beast resembling a cat carry his dog off. Several dog carcasses were later found drained of blood. Hunters came from all over the country to hunt the “vampire beast” until the small town got sick of the hoopla. A bobcat was then shot and displayed, and the world was assured that the beast had been found. Although some reports have surfaced that the beast remains active, it hasn’t stopped Bladenboro from hosting an annual festival centered around the legend -- which is this weekend.

A list of ten monsters of North America leaves a lot of favorite monsters out, so expect part two of this post next week!

Read the entire series on Legendary Monsters.

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Big Questions
Did Wilt Chamberlain Really Sleep With 20,000 Women?
Brian Bahr/Allsport/Getty Images
Brian Bahr/Allsport/Getty Images

At 7'1", Wilt Chamberlain may have been the most dominating and amazing basketball player of all time. In his legendary career, Chamberlain scored 31,419 points, including the unbelievable time he actually scored 100 points in one game. He holds dozens of unbreakable basketball records.

In addition to his accomplishments on the court, Chamberlain also authored four books. None of the others created nearly the stir and controversy as his 1991 book, A View From Above. In it, the basketball great claimed to have slept with 20,000 different women during his life.

A media firestorm erupted, and Chamberlain was attacked from all sides. The country was at the height of the AIDS crisis, and activists criticized Wilt for his promiscuity. He also came under fire in African-American circles for promoting black racial stereotypes. And feminists resented his blatant sexism for using women in such a manner.

To Wilt's credit (I guess), he never backed down from his claim, never said he was just "bragging" or "stretching the truth." He simply stated: "I was just laying it out there for people who were curious."

Wilt was emphatic that he never went to bed with a married woman. "I was just doing what was natural—chasing good-looking ladies, whoever they were and wherever they were." But could he really sleep with 20,000 different women? Let's analyze it.

DOING THE MATH

If Wilt started at the age of 15, from then up to the age of 55 (when the book was published) he would have had 40 years to sleep with 20,000 women, or 500 different women a year—easy math.

That works out to roughly 1.4 women a day.

According to close friends, Wilt loved threesomes. According to legend, he was intimate with 23 different women on one 10-day road trip. Wilt was also a lifelong insomniac, sometimes just not sleeping at all. He probably would take a woman to bed any time he couldn't fall asleep.

But the time factor is an interesting point. A close childhood friend, Tom Fitzhugh, said, "I don't remember him having a date. He was probably a virgin when he left high school." So let us assume Wilt really started around the age of 18, which ups the average to 1.5 women per day for 37 years.

Additionally, he did have a six-month schedule, for 14 seasons, of playing professional basketball. That's 82 games a season, not including playoffs, exhibitions, practices, and travel time.

The fact that he said 20,000 different women also leaves little time for repeats, or love. And what about sickness? Everyone gets sick once in a while, which would have cost Wilt precious time during those 37 to 40 sexually active years.

But most incredibly, even with those reported 20,000 sexual liaisons, Wilt is not known to have contracted any serious sexually transmitted diseases. Nor was there ever a woman who came forward with an unplanned pregnancy, a "little Wilt," or a paternity suit.

And what about turndowns? Every guy in human history has been turned down by a woman at some point. One can only wonder at Wilt's rejections ... probably extremely few, to manage that 20,000 record.

In a 1999 interview, shortly before he died, Wilt made the following revealing statement:

"Having a thousand different ladies is pretty cool, I've learned in my life. I've (also) found out that having one woman a thousand different times is more satisfying."

So perhaps he made time for repeats after all.

Chamberlain died of heart failure in 1999 in Bel-Air, California, at the age of 63.

As a sidebar, Wilt was a huge hero of mine—my supreme basketball hero, as a kid and to this day. I wore Wilt's number 13 on my jersey as I ineptly played for my synagogue's basketball team. (I scored 18 points in 18 games, a nifty 1.0 scoring average.)

Many years later, I met "Wilt the Stilt" at a book-signing for the infamous A View From Above, and I even got to shake his hand. It was, far and away, the biggest hand I have ever seen (or shaken). He didn't just shake my hand—he engulfed it!

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History
9 Victims of King Tut's Curse (And One Who Should Have Been)
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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

When King Tutankhamen's tomb was discovered on November 26, 1922—after more than 3000 years of uninterrupted repose—some believed the pharaoh unleashed a powerful curse of death and destruction upon all who dared disturb his eternal slumber.

Like any urban legend or media sensation, the alleged curse grew to epic proportions over the years. Here are nine people who might make you believe in such things, and one who should have been a direct recipient of Tut's wrath but got off with nary a scratch.

1. GEORGE HERBERT, 5TH EARL OF CARNARVON

The man who financed the excavation of King Tut's tomb was the first to succumb to the supposed curse. Lord Carnarvon accidentally tore open a mosquito bite while shaving and ended up dying of blood poisoning shortly thereafter. This occurred a few months after the tomb was opened and a mere six weeks after the press started reporting on the "mummy's curse," which was thought to afflict anyone associated with disturbing the mummy. Legend has it that when Lord Carnarvon died, all of the lights in his house mysteriously went out.

2. SIR BRUCE INGHAM

Howard Carter, the archaeologist who discovered the tomb, gave a paperweight to his friend Ingham as a gift. The paperweight appropriately (or perhaps quite inappropriately) consisted of a mummified hand wearing a bracelet that was supposedly inscribed with the phrase, "cursed be he who moves my body." Ingham's house burned to the ground not long after receiving the gift, and when he tried to rebuild, it was hit with a flood.

3. GEORGE JAY GOULD

Gould was a wealthy American financier and railroad executive who visited the tomb of Tutankhamen in 1923 and fell sick almost immediately afterward. He never really recovered and died of a pneumonia a few months later.

4. AUBREY HERBERT

It's said that Lord Carnarvon's half-brother suffered from King Tut's curse merely by being related to him. Aubrey Herbert was born with a degenerative eye condition and became totally blind late in life. A doctor suggested that his rotten, infected teeth were somehow interfering with his vision, and Herbert had every single tooth pulled from his head in an effort to regain his sight. It didn't work. He did, however, die of sepsis as a result of the surgery, just five months after the death of his supposedly cursed brother.

5. HUGH EVELYN-WHITE

Evelyn-White, a British archaeologist, visited Tut's tomb and may have helped excavate the site. After seeing death sweep over about two dozen of his fellow excavators by 1924, Evelyn-White hung himself—but not before writing, allegedly in his own blood, "I have succumbed to a curse which forces me to disappear."

6. AARON EMBER

American Egyptologist Aaron Ember was friends with many of the people who were present when the tomb was opened, including Lord Carnarvon. Ember died in 1926, when his house in Baltimore burned down less than an hour after he and his wife hosted a dinner party. He could have exited safely, but his wife encouraged him to save a manuscript he had been working on while she fetched their son. Sadly, they and the family's maid died in the catastrophe. The name of Ember's manuscript? The Egyptian Book of the Dead.

7. RICHARD BETHELL

Bethell was Lord Carnarvon's secretary and the first person behind Carter to enter the tomb. He died in 1929 under suspicious circumstances: He was found smothered in his room at an elite London gentlemen's club. Soon after, the Nottingham Post mused, "The suggestion that the Hon. Richard Bethell had come under the ‘curse’ was raised last year, when there was a series of mysterious fires at it home, where some of the priceless finds from Tutankhamen’s tomb were stored." No evidence of a connection between artifacts and Bethell's death was established, though.

8. SIR ARCHIBALD DOUGLAS REID

Proving that you didn't have to be one of the excavators or expedition backers to fall victim to the curse, Reid, a radiologist, merely x-rayed Tut before the mummy was given to museum authorities. He got sick the next day and was dead three days later.

9. JAMES HENRY BREASTED

Breasted, another famous Egyptologist of the day, was working with Carter when the tomb was opened. Shortly thereafter, he allegedly returned home to find that his pet canary had been eaten by a cobra—and the cobra was still occupying the cage. Since the cobra is a symbol of the Egyptian monarchy, and a motif that kings wore on their headdresses to represent protection, this was a rather ominous sign. Breasted himself didn't die until 1935, although his death did occur immediately after a trip to Egypt.

10. HOWARD CARTER

Carter never had a mysterious, inexplicable illness and his house never fell victim to any fiery disasters. He died of lymphoma at the age of 64. His tombstone even says, "May your spirit live, may you spend millions of years, you who love Thebes, sitting with your face to the north wind, your eyes beholding happiness." Perhaps the pharaohs saw fit to spare him from their curse.

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