Mythical monsters like Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, the Chupacabra, the Mothman, and the Yeti are so well-known across multiple cultures that they have blurred the line between myth and reality, as reports of these beasts continue to grow as smartphones have allowed more and more people to seemingly capture evidence of such creatures. While it's hard to argue with how fascinating some of these cryptids are, there are a number of other beasts who are just as unsettling, yet don't earn the same number of headlines as their peers. Unfortunately, without having as much notoriety as their more well-known neighbors might be, this means that there's much less reported evidence of these monsters in their natural element.
No matter what kind of monster you might be interested in and no matter what habitats you find most capable of containing a cryptids, we've got 10 picks for legendary creatures that could be out there lurking in the wild.
Scroll down to see our choices for 10 bizarre cryptids you might not know about!
Header photo courtesy of Nisian Hughes / Getty Images
Admittedly, most people have heard of the "Jersey Devil," especially given that New Jersey named their NHL team after the creature, but what many people aren't aware of is that, rather than being some supernatural specter, the creature's origins are somewhat more terrestrial in nature.
As the legend goes, Jane Leeds became pregnant with her 13th child, cursing the unborn baby as being "the Devil," with the child's birth in 1735 seeing it transform from a normal, human child into a beast with hooves, wings, and a goat's head. The beast flew out the chimney and into the night, supposedly haunting the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey ever since.
The creature has been sighted countless times over the centuries, with a string of hundreds of reported encounters occurring across the state of New Jersey in January of 1909. While the Jersey Devil is to blame for sightings of seemingly tangible creatures in the woods, there is little evidence to support the beast ever existing.prevnext
While a number of cryptids around the world are essentially just variations of the Bigfoot legend, what makes the Skunk Ape stand out amongst its peers is, well, the fact that it's called the "Skunk Ape."
Said to live in the swamps of Florida, Georgia, and Alabama, one key difference with the Skunk Ape is that most of its sightings come with its distinctive odor. It is said to be nearly eight feet tall and ranges from red to brown to gray in color.
Lending credence to its existence is that the swamps of these southern states are nearly as vast, dense, and unexplored as the locales where Bigfoot is known to wander, as well as these states seeing higher concentrations of private owners of exotic animals. Some of these sightings of the Skunk Ape might be nothing more than whimsy, but with chimpanzees and orangutans known to have escaped enclosures in these states, it's possible that witnesses are spotting identified primates that have been able to survive on their own in these swamps.prevnext
Also known as the "Boggy Creek Monster," this beast is one of many creatures with similar traits to Bigfoot, though it earned much more attention than its contemporaries, as it even earned an entire documentary devoted to it in the early '70s.
The Fouke Monster was spotted a handful of times in the '50s and '60s, but a string of encounters in 1971 emerged, with residents of Fouke, Arkansas reporting that the beast was attacking locals. Standing around eight feet tall and weighing 300 pounds, the 1972 documentary The Legend of Boggy Creek brought attention and awareness to the creature, with multiple follow-up films blurring the line between fact and fiction, making it even more difficult to uncover the truth behind the sightings.prevnext
Often considered the American equivalent to the Loch Ness Monster, "Champ" is an aquatic monster that is known to lurk the depths of Lake Champlain, a body of water located between New York and Vermont. Champ has similar characteristics to the descriptions of Loch Ness, with many witnesses describing a creature between 15 and 20 feet long, potentially a remnant from a prehistoric age. Sightings of Champ date back hundreds of years, with P.T. Barnum even offering a $20,000 reward for its capture, dead or alive.
Champ gained notoriety in the late 1970s when Sandra Mansi claimed to have captured an image of the monster, with a grainy photo of what is described as a long, thick neck and head sticking out of the water, closely resembling the earliest photos of the Loch Ness Monster. However, the photo was taken in roughly 14 feet of water, making it unlikely that a mysterious creature, especially one of that size, could be lurking in the bay of Lake Champlain.
Regardless of the unlikelihood of its existence, Champ has become a major mascot for the region, with both New York and Vermont passing legislation protecting it.prevnext
Another lake monster, Ogopogo descriptions have ranged from being a serpentine beast to more closely resembling a plesiosaur, somewhere between 15 and 20 feet long.
Found in the Okanagan Lake in British Columbia, Canada, reports of the beast stem not only from a number of sightings, but also has roots in First Nations folklore. The beast was said to require sacrifices for safe passage in the lake, which First Nations tribes would often offer in the form of small animals.
In the 20th century, Ogopogo has been filmed a number of times, though skeptics try to claim that water fowl, otters, or possibly even sturgeon are responsible for the sightings. Ogopogo is currently listed as an endangered species.prevnext
Much like the Loch Ness Monster or Bigfoot, what makes thunderbirds feel so believable is that they appear to be modern-day versions of seemingly extinct animals, or real-world animals whose sizes might have grown to extreme proportions.
Thunderbirds are described as massive birds of prey, with wingspans of more than 15 feet. In a small Illinois town in 1977, one witness claims a thunderbird lifted a 10-year-old boy and carried him more than 30 feet before flying off into the unknown.
Given the number of massive prehistoric creatures that have been known to exist, as well as albatross and condor species having a similar wingspan, there are a number of possible explanations for thunderbirds. With sightings being reported throughout all of North America, thunderbirds are likely instances of misidentification, though it could be that known species are earning the credit for what are actually thunderbird sightings.prevnext
Not to be confused with the urban legend regarding the "Momo Challenge," this creature's full name is the "Missouri Monster," or "Momo" for short.
As the name implies, Momo has been spotted around Missouri and is described as being Bigfoot-esque, as its body is covered in hair and stands roughly seven feet tall. One difference, however, is that Momo is said to have a pumpkin-shaped head, with long hair covering its eyes. Additionally, it's known to emit a distinct odor, which is often mentioned in sightings of the creature.
Momo is another cryptid that rose to popularity in the '70s, yet sightings have dwindled in subsequent decades.prevnext
Big Muddy Monster
Despite there being a surge in monster sightings in the '70s, it's hard to pinpoint a specific reason for these sightings, as most weren't national news. The Big Muddy Monster from Murphysboro, Illinois is one example of the many reports regarding unexplained creatures from the Midwest.
On June 25, 1973, a couple claimed to have seen a seven-foot-tall monster emerge from the Big Muddy River. The beast was covered in light-colored fur and had a distinct odor, with the pair reporting the sighting to police. Upon investigation, 10-to-12-inch footprints were discovered in the mud, but no other evidence was recovered.
The next night, there were more police reports from witnesses claiming to have seen a large, bipedal beast roaming their neighborhood, with officers who responded to these sightings confirming claims of strange odors, broken branches, and even slimy substances in the area. Decades later, there's still no explanation for these sightings and it marks a rare occasion where accounts from authorities match up with eyewitnesses.prevnext
Often being described as similar in size and stature to a very large bear, the Ozark Howler also earned claims that it has glowing red eyes and horns. As its name implies, sightings of the creature have ranged throughout the Ozarks and is also said to have a bizarre vocalization, being a blend of a wolf's howl and a hyena's laugh.
The Howler has also earned the monikers Hoo-Hoo, the Nightshade Bear, and the Devil Cat. Skeptics have claimed that sightings can be attributed to mountain lions, bears, hogs, large cats or dogs, or possibly even a bison.
Adding credence to the Howler is that some reports detail that explorer Daniel Boone claimed to have encountered the beast, with sightings continuing ever since. Casting some doubt on the Howler, however, is that various incidents have been debunked as being part of a hoax, yet these incidents haven't slowed down witnesses claiming to have seen the beast.prevnext
Most encounters with cryptids are the result of being in the right place at the wrong time, lasting only a brief moment, but what makes the Hopkinsville Goblins fascinating is that early reports of the creatures are centered around a conflict lasting hours.
On August 21, 1955, a family reported that they came under attack by a group of pint-sized creatures seemingly attempting to infiltrate their home, resulting in the family opening fire on the creatures throughout the night, eventually driving the beasts away.
No evidence of such creatures was recovered, despite authorities confirming that a firefight unfolded, with the event earning both local and national coverage. Some cryptid enthusiasts think the beasts were merely extraterrestrials who may have lost their way, as others think the creatures were cave-dwelling beasts who have used Kentucky's vast cavern system to terrorize the entire state undetected.0comments
What's your favorite cryptid? Let us know in the comments below or contact Patrick Cavanaugh directly on Twitter to talk all things horror and Star Wars!prev