16 Cryptids That Might (Or Might Not) Exist


Cryptozoology is the study of creatures whose existence has yet to be—or else cannot entirely be—proved or disproved by science. These creatures, known collectively as cryptids, include examples like the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, and the Himalayan Yeti, yet these famous cases are by no means the only ones on record. In fact, practically every country and corner of the globe has its own legendary monster or mystery creature that supposedly dwells there, from giant bats in Java to enormous water hounds in Ireland.


Ahools are enormous carnivorous bats that are said to inhabit the rainforests of Java in Indonesia. Believed to have a wingspan in excess of 10 feet (making them roughly the same size as a condor), ahools are said to be covered in a thick brown or black fur like fruit bats, but unlike bats have long, powerful legs and claws and are supposedly capable of pouncing on and snatching up live prey—including humans, if the stories are to be believed—from open ground. Sightings of ahools are often dismissed simply as mistaken glimpses of owls, eagles, and other large birds of prey that inhabit the same rainforests, but some sources claim the creatures do indeed exist, and may even be an isolated and as-yet undiscovered species descended from pterosaurs.


The native Ainu people of Japan have long believed that Volcano Bay off the south coast of Hokkaido is home to an enormous octopus called the Akkorokamui. Numerous sightings of the creature have been made over the years; British missionary named John Batchelor, who was working on Hokkaido in the early 1900s, recorded one such sighting in his book The Ainu and Their Folklore, writing that “a great sea monster with large staring eyes” had attacked three local fishermen and their boat: “The monster was round in shape, and emitted a dark fluid and noxious odour… The three men fled in dismay, not so much indeed for fear, they say, but on account of the dreadful smell. However that may have been, they were so scared that the next morning all three refused to get up and eat; they were lying in their beds pale and trembling.”


The Altamaha-ha is a 20- to 30-foot long river monster with large flippers and a seal-like snout that is said to inhabit the mouth of the Altamaha River near Darien, Georgia. Although numerous accounts of sightings of the Altamaha-ha have apparently been made over the years, the fact that Darien was founded as New Inverness by a band of Scottish Highlanders in 1736 seems to suggest that the legend is probably nothing more than a descendent of the Scots settlers’ tales of the Loch Ness Monster.


The Dobhar-chú, or “water-hound,” is a legendary otter-like animal that supposedly lives in isolated freshwater loughs and rivers in Ireland. Usually described as a half-dog, half-fish hybrid with a long snaking body covered in thick fur, the Dobhar-chú is large and heavyset, but can move very fast both in the water and on land—even, according to one story, being able to keep up with a galloping horse. Sightings of the creature date back several centuries in Ireland, and there are at least two gravestones (including one, in County Leitrim, dating back as far as 1722) of people who were reportedly attacked and killed by a Dobhar-chú.


A number of native Central African tribes believe the swamps of the Congo basin to be inhabited by an enormous semi-aquatic creature known as the emela-ntouka. Similar to but larger than a hippopotamus, and armed with a single long bony tusk or horn in the center of its forehead, the emela-ntouka is apparently herbivorous but like the hippo has a reputation for being dangerously confrontational when disturbed, and has even been known to turn on and kill creatures even larger than itself; its name means "elephant killer."


The waters off the coast of Cape Greco National Park in Cyprus are supposedly home to a seamonster known locally as To Filiko Teras, or “the friendly monster.” As its name suggests, the monster has apparently never attacked humans, but it has nevertheless gained a reputation for destroying fishermen’s nets and upturning smaller boats. Stories of the Filiko Teras are probably inspired by the Greek legend of Scylla, a huge seamonster that attacks Odysseus’s boat in The Odyssey, but in truth sightings of the creature are probably nothing more than mistaken sightings of squids or octopuses.


The grootslang, or “great snake,” is a legendary monster said to dwell in the caves of the Richtersveld, a mountainous desert region in northwestern South Africa. In local mythology, grootslangs were primordial creatures comprised of the head and front of an elephant and the back and tail of an enormous serpent. When the Earth was created, the grootslangs were all apparently destroyed, but according to legend, some survived and retreated to the deepest caves of the Northern Cape province. Tales of enormous tusked snakes—probably inspired by real-life sightings of enormous pythons that live in the same area—have rumbled on in South African folklore ever since; the mysterious disappearance of a British diamond magnate named Peter Grayson in the Richtersveld caves in 1917 is sometimes blamed on a grootslang.


The Jersey Devil is a cryptid said to live in the Pine Barrens region of New Jersey. According to legend, the creature was the unwanted thirteenth son of one of the state’s earliest settlers, Mother Leeds, who offered her son to the Devil on his birth in 1735 because she and her husband couldn't afford to raise another child. Ever since then, hundreds of reported sightings of a grotesque two-legged, hooved monster with a sheep-like head and large scaly wings have been reported in the Pine Barrens, including one famous incident in the winter of 1909 when a long trail of hooved footprints, crossing under fences and over walls and rooftops, mysteriously appeared in the snow one night.


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The Mapinguari is a large ape-like creature said to inhabit the rainforests straddling the border between Brazil and Bolivia. According to local folklore, the Mapinguari stands around 8 feet tall, has a tough (and apparently bulletproof) covering of scales on its back, thick red fur on its head and belly, long, curved claws, and, if all of the stories are to be believed, a second mouth in the center of its stomach. When approached by humans, the Mapinguari is said to rear up on its hind legs like a bear and can supposedly produce a foul-smelling scent to ward off potential hunters. As recently as 2007 a sighting was reported in The New York Times.


The Ogopogo is a vast water serpent said to reside in Lake Okanagan in British Columbia. Sightings of the Ogopogo date back to the early 1800s, when the creature was originally known by the native name n’haitaka , meaning “lake devil.” The name Ogopogo wasn’t adopted until the 1920s, when it was lifted from the title of a popular English musical hall number called The Ogo-Pogo: The Funny Foxtrot: “I’m looking for the Ogo-pogo, / The funny little Ogo-pogo. / His mother was an earwig, his father was a whale, / I’m going to put a little bit of salt on his tail.”


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The name olgoi-khorkhoi means “large intestine worm” in Mongolian, but this 4-foot-long subterranean cryptid is more like a giant earthworm than a parasitic tapeworm. Also known less subtly as the “Mongolian death worm,” the olgoi-khorkhoi apparently lives beneath the sands of the southern Gobi Desert, only coming up to the surface in the warmer summer months or when the ground becomes too wet for it to survive. Sightings of the worms date back several centuries amongst the native Mongolians, many of whom claim the olgoi-khorkhoi is able to spit venom or even acid from its mouth, while its body is apparently coated with such a toxic slime that anyone who happens to touch it will be instantly killed.

12. MOMO

“Momo”—short for “Missouri monster”—is a mysterious apeman similar to Bigfoot, which is said to inhabit the forests alongside the Mississippi River as it passes through Missouri. First reported in 1971, Momo is described as 7 to 8 feet tall with a broad pumpkin-shaped head, and is supposedly covered head to foot in thick dark fur. According to some accounts, the creature is notoriously aggressive, and like the South American Mapinguari, is able to produce a grotesque smell—even worse than a skunk’s—in order to ward off would-be attackers.


The folklore of the British Isles is littered with tales of mysterious black dogs that supposedly haunt rural towns and villages across the country. The Shuck—a huge black hound said to dwell in East Anglia, on the far eastern coast of England—is probably one of the most famous, having apparently attacked a church in the village of Bungay, Suffolk, during a thunderstorm in 1577. According to local records, while the villagers were sheltering from the storm in the church, a huge black dog burst through the church door, killing a man and his son, and pulling down one of the pillars supporting the church steeple, which collapsed into the nave. As it fled the church, the Shuck apparently left scorch marks in the wood of the church door that can still be seen to this day.


Tatzelwurms are lizard-like creatures that are supposed to inhabit the most isolated regions of the Alps. Although accounts of their size and appearance vary, they are typically said to be around 2 to 5 feet in length, with a broad cat-like head and a wide gaping mouth. Their forelimbs are short and armed with long claws, but they have no hind legs and instead their bodies taper into a long snake-like tail. Numerous sightings of the creatures—which are known as tatzelwurms in Germany, arassas in France, stollenwurms in Switzerland, bergstutzens in Austria, and basiliscos in Italy—have been made all over the Alps, including a recent spate of sightings reported in Italy’s Il Giorno newspaper as recently as 2009.


Tahoe Tessie is a lake monster said to live in the waters of Lake Tahoe in central California. Sightings of Tessie date back to at least the 19th century and usually describe a vast snake-like creature with a long neck and humped back, that swims so fast that it can even keep up with sailboats. Strangely, according to local folklore, Tessie sightings are always more common in even-numbered years than odd.


Yowies are a species of Bigfoot-like apes said to inhabit the Australian Outback. Usually described as tall and stocky, and covered head to foot in thick black or dark red fur, most accounts of yowie sightings claim the creatures are shy and very easily spooked, although some tales claim they can be confrontational and can produce a bloodcurdling scream when threatened. Nowadays, the creatures are generally considered a myth, but in the 19th century, sightings were remarkably common, to the extent that in 1892 an Australian amateur adventurer and scholar named Herbert J. McCooey—who had supposedly spotted a yowie near Bateman’s Bay in New South Wales several years earlier—wrote to the Australian Museum in Sydney, offering to capture one of the creatures for a fee of £40 (around US$3000/£1,800 today). He failed.

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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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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."


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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