9 Mythical Monsters Believed (by Some) to Roam the Earth

yeti (Image: Wanida.w; mythical monsters believed (by some) to exist)

On a rational level, most of us are aware that there are no such things as monsters. But find yourself alone on a dark country road late one night, and you might just have an unexpected change of heart. The following cryptids all have one thing in common: none of them can be reliably said to exist. But read the eyewitness testimony of frightened locals and listen to the circumstantial evidence, and you may just find yourself believing in mythical monsters all over again. At the very least, the following cryptozoological beasts make for some fun reading.

The Beast of Dartmoor (UK)

british-big-cats-black-leopard (Image: Cburnett, cc-sa-3.0)

Dartmoor may be the closest Britain has to an untamed wilderness. A vast desert of windswept rocks, fog-shrouded peat bogs and isolated villages, it feels like the perfect setting for an otherworldly horror film. All of which may go some way toward explaining the legend of the Beast of Dartmoor.

Allegedly a giant cat or family of giant cats that were turned loose when the UK government passed the 1976 Dangerous Animals Act, the Beast has been sighted on-and-off for decades. Most locals have at least one story of encountering a giant paw print or a sheep killed and eaten in a particularly gruesome manner. And thanks to the sheer size and inhospitable nature of Dartmoor, proving or disproving the creature’s existence has proved impossible.

So, is there a large, wild cat roaming the British southwest? It’s not as unlikely as you may think. In 1903 a wild Canadian lynx was shot and killed outside Newton Abbot, a town on the very fringes of the moor. Did it leave behind a family to terrify future locals? Who knows?

Mythical Monsters: Bigfoot (USA)

bigfoot-pacific-northwest (Image: Patterson-Gimlin film)

Legends of ape-like wildmen living in the dense forests of the Pacific Northwest have been around for centuries, but none have been quite so prevalent as Bigfoot (aka Sasquatch). A shambling, Gorilla-like creature featured in one of the most-famous pieces of film ever shot, Bigfoot has been debunked more times than the JFK conspiracy. Yet still the sightings keep on coming.

Every year across the United States, dozens of people who you’d assume had no reason to lie report strange encounters with these creatures. In 2007 an on-duty Californian cop claimed to have seen a 7 foot tall biped shambling through the undergrowth. In 2011, a Virginia farmer announced he’d startled and nearly been killed by one outside his family home. There are even honest-to-God scientists – experts in the field of anthropology – who are convinced the creature exists. At times you almost have to wonder if it’s the Bigfoot fanatics who are ignoring the evidence, or the rest of us.

The Yeti (Himalayas)

yeti-scalp (Image: Nmnogueira, cc-sa-4.0)

If you were to wander deep into the frozen wastes of the Himalayas, you might just encounter a creature beyond your strangest nightmares. Known as the Yeti, this bipedal creature has popped up in local folklore since time immemorial. There’s evidence that it was known to pre-Buddhist tribes in Tibet, while early Western explorers reported everything from hearing howls in the far distance to seeing terrifying footprints. Its legions of believers have included everyone from Jimmy Stewart to Brian Blessed… and there’s a chance they may just be right.

Although it sounds incredible, in 2013 scientific evidence emerged that an unknown species was indeed stalking this forbidding mountain range. After DNA testing a Yeti hair, British scientists concluded it came from a previously undiscovered sub-species of brown bear – one that could have genetic links with ancient polar bears. It may not quite be the Abominable Snowman of legend, but it shows there are still corners of this world yet to be explored.

The Kraken (Ocean)

kraken-mythical-monster (Image: Pierre Denys de Montfort, public domain)

The Kraken is one of the oldest legends around. Popularised around Norway sometime in the 14th century, it tells of an unspeakable being: a sea creature large enough to devour any boat, biding its time on the ocean floor. In the centuries since, it’s popped up time and again in folklore, literature and as the inspiration for H.P Lovecraft’s terrifying Cthulhu. And there’s the faintest chance it might be real.

Traditionally, the Kraken is depicted as a gigantic, writhing mass of tentacles. Sound familiar? It should do: the Giant Squid is a real, ocean dwelling creature, capable of growing to fantastic lengths. In 2004 a 28 foot specimen was caught by a trawler. A few years later, evidence of a 43 foot female was recorded. Currently, it’s thought that the Giant Squid’s maximum size is around 40-45 feet, but who knows what else could be lurking on the ocean floor? Could unconfirmed reports of an alleged 66 foot squid reveal the origin of the mysterious Kraken? We’ll leave it to you to decide.

Giant Birds (Alaska)

gastornis-giant-bird-dinosaur-alaska (Image: Vince Smith, cc-sa-4.0)

Many, many years ago, a gigantic six foot bird stalked the forests of prehistoric North America. Known today as Gastornis, it was the biggest, strangest detour avian evolution ever made. Or was it? Take a trip to modern-day Alaska and you may well encounter a creature with a wingspan so large it makes Gastornis look like the family budgie.

Known as Thunderbirds, these semi-mythical monsters are said to have a wingspan of over 14ft. Since 1890, they’ve been spotted careering through the skies of Alaska – including a spate of sightings that gripped Anchorage in 2002. Witnesses typically describe them as being similar to eagles, only much, much bigger. According to scientists, the likelihood of there being an as-yet-undiscovered giant super-bird living wild in the United States is effectively nil. But try telling that to the ordinary folk who claim to have seen one swooping through the air, talons at the ready, looking for a family dog or small child to take away and devour.

The Jersey Devil (New Jersey, US)

jersey-devil (Image: Volgurath, cc-nc-nd-3.0)

If you’ve ever been to New Jersey you’ll know about the Pine Barrens. A gigantic stretch of undisturbed forest that sweeps along the coastline, it’s a place a myth, mystery and weird legends half-whispered at night. The most famous of all being the story of the Jersey Devil.

A winged creature that is said to hunt after dark, the Devil has been sighted over 2,000 times since the area was first settled. In 1909 a rash of sightings are even said to have caused schools and factories to close across the State. Vicious, unstoppable and with a penchant for human flesh, the Jersey Devil has haunted the nightmares of local children ever since.

So what scientific evidence is there, if any, for such a creature? Well, basically none. But that hasn’t stopped people from documenting strange footprints, weird shadows and a leathery, flying thing that goes bump in the night. Scared yet? Wander out to the Pine Barrens alone one cold winter’s evening and you soon will be.

The Congo Dinosaur (Democratic Republic of the Congo)

congo-dinosaur (Image: Jean-no, FAL)

The Republic of Congo is one of the most-mysterious, isolated places on Earth. A gigantic tract of impenetrable jungle, ruled over by warring militias and an ineffective central government, it’s a land of violence and mystery. And it may just be the final place on Earth where you can still find a living dinosaur.

It sounds incredible and that’s because it is: Mokele-mbembe is a strange, river-dwelling creature that inhabits the Congo Basin and is said to resemble a sauropod. Allegedly some 30ft long, it supposedly feasts on hippos and other large animals and frequently attacks human unlucky enough to stray within its path. The legends are so convincing that in the last 100 years alone some 30 expeditions have been sent out to find evidence of this gigantic creature, each returning nothing. As the Smithsonian magazine points out, this means in all likelihood that there’s nothing to find. Unless, that is, you believe the evidence of this video – in which case who knows what could be lurking down there?

Orang Pendek (Indonesia)

Orang-Pendek-Indonesia-mystery-primate (Image: Nachosan, cc-sa-3.0)

Indonesia’s Orang Pendek may not be the most-famous of cryptids, but it’s certainly one of the most-plausible. A short, biped, ape-like creature, the being has been seen countless times over the last century, with scientific reports even cropping up in reputable newspapers. Over the years, it’s variously been linked with a new sub-species of orangutan, a type of bear and even a prehistoric form of proto-human that somehow survived into the modern age.

Most-interestingly, Orang Pendek has some believers in high places. Reliable witnesses have previously claimed to have seen it, and a handful of ape experts have given credence to the myth. Could it be that there’s a whole new species of primate out there, waiting to be discovered, even after all these years? Well, in 2012 scientists discovered a new species of monkey in the remote Congo Basin, so maybe there’s hope for the Orang Pendek yet.

The Loch Ness Monster (Scotland)

loch-ness-monster-myth (Image: Robert Kenneth Wilson)

No other cryptid is as famous as Nessie. The ancient inhabitant of Loch Ness has spawned countless searches, one of the most-famous photographs in existence and even a guest appearance on The Simpsons. It’s also led to more hoax-claims than any other creature on the planet, so perhaps the skepticism surrounding it is understandable.

First sighted way, way back in 1933, Nessie is said to be the offspring of some sort of prehistoric monster that got trapped in the Loch during the last ice age then passed undetected for centuries. Since the Loch itself has a surface area of some 56km square and a depth of 755 feet, this isn’t quite as unlikely as it first sounds. As with nearly everything on this list, the actual evidence for the monster is effectively zero – and some pretty impressive attempts have been made to debunk its existence. But in the end, Nessie always wins out. Because, really, who needs cold, hard truth when you’ve already got a beautiful lie?

Keep Reading: Melonheads: Unearthly Cryptids that Stalk the Midwestern Woods

 
 


 
 
 

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