No doubt you've heard of Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster, but you may not have known that they belong to a class of creatures called cryptids. The technical definition is a creature that can't be proved to exist, even though sightings of this "thing" may have occurred. The definition also includes sightings of creatures thought to be extinct.
Yeah, so that's the "technical" definition. One that makes more sense to me is, "Creatures you might see featured in the Weekly World News." Which is not to say that these creatures aren't really lurking somewhere "“ in fact, some cryptids have been proven to exist. For example, the Kraken, a mythical sea monster, is now widely accepted as an early description of the giant squid, which does, in fact, inhabit the seas (although it's hard to catch alive).
So, on the chance that some of these cryptids aren't just local legend or mythological beings, here are nine to watch out for.
1. The Mongolian Death Worm
Even the name is terrifying. This two-to-four foot-long worm supposedly makes its home in the Gobi Desert. Locals refer to it as "allghoi", which means "blood filled intestine worm". Yummy. The allghoi's might be able to kill you by secreting a yellow poison that kills on contact, but it probably doesn't need to. It's rumored that it can also kill from a distance by some sort of electrocution. Adventurers should definitely avoid the Gobi Desert in June and July, because that's when the allghoi is the most active. Also, you're going to want to avoid wearing your "When life gives you scurvy, make lemonade" shirt, because the Death Worm is attracted by the color yellow. Don't say I didn't warn you. Note: Kinda reminds me of the sandworms from Beetlejuice.
2. The Beast of Bray Road
If you're near Elkhorn, Wisconsin, and see something resembling Bigfoot or perhaps a large wolf walking on its hind legs, don't stop to see if it's friendly. The Beast of Bray Road might not actually kill you "“ so far the only suspicious activity chalked up to this maybe-werewolf is the slaughter of small game and deer. One Web site says it behaves aggressively, though, so I probably wouldn't try its patience.
3. Beast of GÃ©vaudan
While we're talking about Beasts, we should discuss the Beast of GÃ©vaudan. It's a French cryptid that killed an estimated 60-100 people between 1764 and 1767. It must have been quite a peculiar-looking thing, because eyewitnesses describe it as being about the size of a cow with a long, lion-like tail, red fur and a head with small pointed ears and sharp fangs. King Louis XV sent acclaimed hunters after the beast, who successfully killed an abnormally large wolf in September of 1765. When more attacks occurred in December of the same year, it was concluded that the wolf that was killed was not the Beast in question. Another large creature was killed in June of 1767 "“ when they gutted it, the remains of a little girl were found inside. The deaths ended after that, so presumably the right thing was killed... the question remains, though, what was that thing?
4. The Brosno Dragon
If Nessie has a cousin, the Brosno Dragon could be it. He's been lurking in Lake Brosno in the Russian city of Novgorod since the 13th century, according to one report. That's when he ate some of Batu Kahn's (grandson of Genghis Khan) soldiers and horses when they tried to let their horses drink from the lake. Supposedly Batu Khan and his soldiers were so scared that they turned tail and ran, leaving Novgorod in peace. Today, most people are understandably skeptic about the existence of the dragon and some seem to think it could be a mutant beaver"¦ which really seems just as strange in my book, but whatever. One scientific approach suggests that gas bubbles up from the bottom of the lake and makes it look like something large is moving under the water.
5. The Jersey Devil
The Jersey Devil, AKA the Leeds Devil, supposedly came about in the 18th century when a woman had her 13th child. She was so sick of having children with her husband (whom she did not love) that she would rather have the Devil's child than have one more child by her husband. Her wish was granted and the baby was born with claws, a tail and hooves. Ouch. It flew out the chimney and began to terrorize New Jersey, including some notable people like Napoleon Bonaparte's brother and Commodore Stephen Decatur. There was a week in January of 1909 that the Devil seemed particularly bent on wreaking havoc "“ it was sighted every single day, attacking dogs and people. By Friday of that week, people were so scared that businesses and schools were actually shutting for the day out of fear.
A traditional Irish ballad tells the tale of Grainne Ni Conalai on September 24, 1722. She went to Glenade Lake in County Leitrim to bathe and never came back. When her husband went to look for her, he found her mangled near the water with a huge beast, a cross between an otter and a dog, lying asleep on her. Her husband returned home and got his brother; together the two of them went back to the lake and used their horses as bait. When the dobharchu lunged at the horse, the brothers stabbed it in the heart. Some stories say they sliced its head off.
Before it died, though, let out a whistle to call its relatives to seek vengeance. It doesn't look like there have been any sightings since, but just the same, I can't imagine they get many skinny-dippers in Glenade Lake these days.
7. The Pope Lick Monster
With a name like that, you would expect the Pope Lick Monster to have a very odd story of origin. You might be disappointed to learn that it's really just named for the creek/railroad trestle it was sighted at "“ Pope Lick Creek and trestle near Louisville, Kentucky. The half human, half goat kills people in one of two ways: he's either so horrifying that when people encounter it near the trestle, they would rather jump off the bridge to their deaths than be near it, or he hypnotizes whoever he finds and tosses them off.
No matter what you believe, the fact remains that there is a relatively large number of accidental deaths at that very location.
The Kikiyaon gives a whole new meaning to Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. It lives in West Africa and looks kind of like an owl"¦ an owl with razor-sharp talons and a deadly beak. You know it's coming after you when you hear the strangled cry it makes, which turns into a scream that lingers in the air. One account says it's similar someone being strangled very slowly. If you see it and escape, don't start thanking your lucky stars just yet "“ you'll probably die soon afterward anyway. It flies faster than a man can run, so most likely you're doomed anyway"¦ if it exists.
9. The Mothman
Our list concludes with a cryptid you might have heard of, especially if you saw the Richard Gere-Debra Messing movie The Mothman Prophecies. The Mothman is, as you would expect, a creature that looks like a human with giant wings on his back. Most descriptions say he has bug-like red eyes. He was first sighted in West Virginia by two couples who were out on a late night drive. For the next year he was sighted by numerous people, some claiming to be chased at more than 100 miles per hour. A little more than a year after the first sighting, the Silver Bridge collapsed into the Ohio River, killing 46 people. The Mothman wasn't seen as much after that. So was the Mothman trying to warn locals about the impending doom? Or did he cause it? Either way, Point Pleasant, W.V. has become well-known as being the home of this cryptid and even embraces the fact: the town erected a 12-foot statue of the Mothman and just celebrated their sixth annual Mothman Festival in September.
Do you have any cryptids in your area, or know of some I didn't cover here? Do tell. I love this stuff.
10 Ways To Vent Your Job Frustration Online
8 Unique Magazines I Just Learned About
7 Pop Groups and Their Ridiculous TV Guest Spots
6 Beers We'd Never Drink
5 Crazy Reality Show Ideas Circulating on the Internet
4 Things You Didn't Know About Johnny Appleseed
3 People I'm Glad I'm Not
2 Random Things I've Been Meaning To Show You (including history's worst wedding announcement)
1 Amazing Fact to Leave You Feeling Good All Weekend