Top 10 Most Famous Cryptids

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The term cryptid refers to any creature whose existence is not supported by science. This can include animals that were thought to be extinct but may still exist, as well as legendary creatures that exist only through stories and circumstantial evidence. Although most of these creatures are undoubtedly just myths, they do occupy a unique place in popular culture, and it’s worth noting that animals like the Giant Squid and even the Mountain Gorilla were once also the stuff of legend. Here’s a guide to some of the more famous creatures that might be lurking somewhere out there.

10. The Mongolian Death Worm

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Supposedly found in Asia’s massive Gobi Desert, the Mongolian Death Worm is said to be reddish in color and measure anywhere from two to five feet in length. It is also known as the Allghoi khorkhoi, or intestine worm, because of its supposed resemblance to a cow intestine. The Death Worm is legendary among the nomadic tribes of the region, and it has even been blamed for several deaths. It is said that the worm moves beneath the desert sands, only surfacing to attack its unsuspecting victims by spitting some kind of venom or acid at them. The worm has also been said to possess the ability to emit an electric charge, and some have even credited it with psychic powers, saying that it can kill a person just by looking at them. In the early nineties, an expedition was mounted to interview locals and try to search for the Mongolian Death Worm, but it uncovered no evidence beyond stories, and even these were only said to arise after the nomads consumed hefty amounts of the local vodka.

9. Thunderbirds

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“Thunderbird” is a blanket term for impossibly huge birds that are frequently spotted across North America. Known as “Rocs” in Europe and Asia, these massive creatures are purported to have wingspans as big as fourteen feet, and at least one story from the 1970s describes two Thunderbirds attacking a group of young boys and lifting one off the ground. Thunderbirds are frequently compared to the mythical Native American creature of the same name, a bird that was said to have the supernatural power to create thunder by flapping its wings. Perhaps the most famous story of the cryptid version of the creature dates back to 1890, when it is said two cowboys killed a lizard-like winged creature and dragged its corpse back to a town, but this story has been dismissed as an urban legend. For their part, ornithologists and other scientists say that such creatures could not survive in a modern ecosystem, and even if they could, they would be spotted and photographed by bird watchers. The picture is a fake.

8. Phantom Cats

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Like Thunderbirds, the term “Phantom Cats” is a title given to any number of large predatory felines that have been spotted in Asia, Oceania, and Europe. They are also referred to as ABCs, or Alien Big Cats, and are said to resemble Jaguars or Cougars in appearance. The most famous stories of Phantom Cats come from the UK, where in the 1970s the so-called Beast of Exmoor was blamed for the deaths of hundreds of sheep. The British media jumped on the stories, with one paper offering a monetary reward for killing or capturing the creature. Even the British government got involved in the search, sending a number of Royal Marines to the area, but although several soldiers claimed to have seen the creature, no specimens were found.  A similar creature, known as The Beast of Bodmin, surfaced in the nineties, but no conclusive evidence of its existence was ever uncovered, and a subsequent investigation concluded that the area simply doesn’t have the climate or food supply to support such giant cats.

7. Mokele-Mbembe

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Considered by some to be a modern dinosaur or even a spirit, the Mokele-Mbembe is a water creature said to exist in the Congo River Basin in central Africa. It is said to be a large, reptilian creature with a body like an elephant and a long neck. Stories and sightings of the Mokele-Mbembe can be found as far back as 1776, and since the early 1900s missionaries and explorers that visit the region have been told of a massive sauropod that dwells in the local rivers. Witnesses claim it resembles a dragon or a Brontosaurus, though no reliable photographic evidence of the monster exists. There are several stories of local hunters killing a Mokele-Mbembe with spears, with one tale relating that when the creature was brought back to the village for a celebration and cooked, all who ate some of it soon died. In recent years, a number of expeditions have gone to the jungles in search of the water beast, but no evidence of its existence has been uncovered.

6. Mothman

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The Mothman has been described as a large, man-sized creature with the wings of a moth and red eyes. It was spotted by a number of residents of Charleston and Point Pleasant, West Virginia in 1966 and 1967 prior to the collapse of a suspension bridge that resulted in the deaths of 46 people. After the bridge collapse, sightings of the Mothman died out, leading many to speculate that the creature only appears before disasters.  A number of explanations were put forth, among them that the Mothman was actually a large bird or owl, or that the sightings were all hoaxes, but others speculated that the creature was some kind of ghost or even an extra-terrestrial. The story had a huge impact on pop culture, thanks to a popular book and film about the events, and to this day the city of Point Pleasant continues to hold a “Mothman Festival” every year.

5. The Jersey Devil

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Perhaps the only cryptid to be the mascot of a major sports franchise (in this case the New Jersey hockey team), the Jersey Devil is one of the most well known folk creatures. Its legend dates back to the 1700s, when it is said to have been borne of a witch called Mother Leeds and “the devil himself.” The creature supposedly has a horse’s head and hooves, a long neck, and large, bat-like wings. It’s eyes are said to glow red, and when spotted it gives out a terrifying, high-pitched squeal. It is purported to haunt the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey, and over the years it has been credited with the deaths of a number of livestock, and is even said to have poisoned local creeks and streams. There have been countless sightings of the Jersey Devil in and around the Pine Barrens over the years, but most famously in 1909, when thousands of people as far away as Pennsylvania claimed to have spotted it. In the 1960s, a $10,000 reward was offered for the capture of the Jersey Devil, but it has gone unclaimed, and new sightings of the creature are reported every year.

4. Yeti

Also known as “The Abominable Snowman,” the Yeti is a large, ape-like creature that is said to exist in the Himalayas of Nepal and Tibet. The creature is well documented in the oral history and myths of the local people, but its legend grew as soon as westerners began to climb Himalayan peaks like Mt. Everest. Dating back to the 1800s, a number of climbers have reported seeing a large primate walking on two legs, and even more have discovered impossibly large footprints in the mountain snow. Famed mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa Tenzing Norgay reported seeing such footprints during their historic trek up Mt. Everest, though both would later deny the Yeti’s existence. As recently as 1984, an American mountaineer reported being stalked by the creature as he climbed Everest, but he was unable to produce any convincing photographs. Like most of the more well known cryptids, the Yeti legend has given rise to many hoaxes, including a famous piece of film faked by a Fox television show. Still, though most remain skeptical, the Yeti legend has been given an unusual amount of credibility among scientists, if only because the remoteness and sheer size of the Himalayas has prevented any kind of adequate investigation from being undertaken.

3. El Chupacabra

El Chupacabra is one of the most well known cryptids in popular culture, and has supposedly been spotted in the U.S., Latin America, and even Russia. Its name literally means “goat sucker,” because of its supposed method of attacking and drinking the blood of goats and other livestock. El Chupacabra was first spotted in Puerto Rico in the mid-nineties, and is said to be reptilian in appearance, with a row of spines on its back and sharp fangs. Witnesses claim the creature’s eyes glow red, and it is said that it leaves behind a distinct scent of sulfur. Victims of El Chupacabra, which have included cows, goats, and chickens, are typically found dead and drained of all blood, usually with fang or puncture marks somewhere on the body. The creatures have been blamed for the deaths of thousands of livestock around the world, and unlike most cryptids, a number of supposed Chupacabras have even been killed and examined, but nearly all have been determined to be dogs or coyotes with severe cases of mange.

2. Sasquatch

Perhaps the most recognizable of all the famous cryptids, the Sasquatch is a bipedal, ape-like creature that is alleged to inhabit the forests of the American Pacific Northwest. Also known as the “Bigfoot” because of its especially large footprints, the creature is said to weigh more than 500 pounds and stand anywhere from seven to ten feet tall. The Sasquatch legend dates back to the Lummi Indian tribe, who passed down stories of the Ts’emekwe, a large, brown-haired ape creature that was said to stalk the forests. The modern Bigfoot story began in 1958, when a bulldozer operator in California discovered a number of huge footprints at one of his work sites. The Associated Press eventually picked up a story about the find, and soon people around the country were searching for the Sasquatch. Another breakthrough came in 1967, when two men named Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin claimed they had filmed the Bigfoot walking through the woods near Bluff Creek, California. Their footage, now known as the Patterson-Gimlin film, remains the most famous evidence of the Bigfoot’s existence, despite a later claim by a friend of Patterson’s who said he had dressed in an ape suit to help the men engineer a hoax. Real or not, the Sasquatch phenomenon has been a source of constant debate and speculation for over fifty years, and stories of similar creatures, like the Yowie in Australia and the Yeren in China, can be found all across the world.

1. The Loch Ness Monster

Probably the most well known of all cryptids is the Loch Ness Monster, a famed lake creature supposedly found in Scotland’s Loch Ness. Its legend dates back to the sixth century, when an Irish monk called St. Columba is said to have confronted a water beast after it killed a man by dragging him underwater. Since then there have been thousands of sightings of the creature, which is affectionately known as “Nessie.” Supposed photos of the monster are frequently put forth to prove its existence, but most are inconclusive, and many, such as the famous “Surgeon’s Photo,” have been revealed as hoaxes. Opinions differ on just what Nessie is, with some claiming it to be a giant eel, while others have said it could be a massive reptile or even a Plesiosaur. Many expeditions have been mounted in search of the monster, but none have been successful in either proving or disproving its existence. Scientists generally dismiss Nessie as a fantasy, but cryptozoologists and other believers have argued that the Loch, which has depths of over 700 feet, could support such a massive creature, which they hypothesize might be able travel from the ocean to the loch via an underwater passage. Whatever the case, the Loch Ness monster and its enduring mystery have proven to be a multi-million dollar industry, with countless tourists visiting the site each year in search of the elusive water beast.

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Written by Evan Andrews. Read more from Evan at his blog The Seventh Art.


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23 Comments

  1. Great!

    I am most interested in the so-called Thunderbird and pterodactyl sightings. There some convincing videos on YouTube, but these could be faked. I want to believe…

  2. I used to be fascinated with Big Foot when I was a child. I was convinced he lived in the woods behind my house in Virginia.

    And the Mothman movie gave me nightmares. Creepy.

  3. The liger is a real animal. It is bred in captivity. A lion and a tiger is bred and a liger is produced. Its growth hormone is out of control, hence its out of control growth and huge proportions. You can look on google and find plenty of pictures of them online. There is also a tigon as well. The Sasquatch video and the Loch Ness video were exposed as hoaxes long ago. Sadly people made them up and tried to fool people. A lot of people still believe they are real, but they arent. There is a lot of evidence of beings like a Sasquatch existing, such as hair and footprints, but there is no other evidence. The Loch in Scotland has been studied so many times. Radar has been used by so many, but there is no evidence of the Loch Ness Monster existing.

  4. Gwen. I hope you aren't talking about that phony BBC footage that they tried to recreate the Patterson footage, it is not even close. Their costume looks like a guy going to a frat party, and he walks like he just stepped out of a prison shower. I believe you have pegged the Loch Ness monster, but with recent evidence on the Yeti, and the Patterson film, which has never been proven fake, it is hard to say that they don't exist. It is probable, but not likely. But to say the evidence has been proved wrong is merely ridiculous. Also we have seen black jaguars as far north as Oklahoma. This is a personal encounter, but that is actually not surprising, since they once roamed all the way to Okalahoma, and the environment has the means to support them. I guess the big cats in New York, and other places are actually strager. Also for refrence Mountain Lions are actually the biggest of the small cats, so they do not count as big cats.

  5. I'm quite a fervent cryptozoologist, and though I possess no formal training or some such experience, I do make cryptozoology and mythology VERY prominent hobbies. As such, I'm quite familiar with all of these creatures, even the Mongolian Death Worm. I've studied 'evidence' of these creatures for many years, now, and I am thoroughly devout in my belief in a small number of these cryptids. For the majority, however, I have found no substantial proof. I've even traversed to Loch Ness, Point Pleasant, and other such places. Though the belief of these creatures is strong, I am sad to say that a good number of them are simply myths.

  6. No one seems to understand that for the bigfoot or lochness monster (or any of these creatures) to exist, there would have to be thousands of them, Not just one. Its a little thing called genetic diversification. This is needed for animals to survive.Big foot doesn't exist. Jmonkey, I know you want to believe it, but there is no evidence. The patterson film can easily be faked. there has never been any bodies or bones or fossils found. Nothing. And there have never been any primates in North America. Face facts, not grainy footage. Don't get me wrong if there was a chance an animal like that existed I would be out there searching, but I live in reality.

  7. the owl man is a demon not a creature speaking of the owl man the show i think it is called lost footage they show an owl man video TOTALLY FAKE!

  8. Phantom Cats are not the same as ABC's. ABC's, or Alien Big Cats, are Big Cats known to exist, but found in places they're not supposed to be. And yeah, Ogopogo should definitely be on here, And maybe The Dover Demon. By the way, Davo, who said there was only one Bigfoot, Loch Ness Monster, Chupacara, etc.?

    P.S. Would anyone else put #s 10, 5, and 6 in the same category as fairies, mermaids and unicorns?

    • Well if there are more than one of these creatures they would’ve found them a looooong time ago, and there would be a fossil record. In my opinion the proof that they dont exist is precisely the lack of fossils or just ONE dead body. If you want to find monsters i suggest exploring the ocean, guaranteed to be something there. The video of the chupacabra: very nice, very interesting, and i’ve seen everything there is on the chupacabra being puertorican.

  9. None of us know whether these creatures exist in real or not. They can be just fragments of one’s imagination or they may be out there lurking somewhere in this world. You should know that this world is large enough to hide a few cryptids.
    Moreover, I strongly believe in the Chupacabra’s existence as EVIDENCES WERE FOUND POINTING TO THE EXISTENCE OF THE CREATURE. Not just desperate people telling that they have seen the creature. Corpses of the chupacabra have been found although they are not exactly identical. The chupacabra is more likely a mutation of some kind.
    But of course, as I said before we can not be sure. Yet.

  10. breanna walker on

    dude… i thought the chupacabra was a dog with an oversized head… it lives in mexico and its like a vampier… all it does is drink the blood of its victims AND people say that its just half wolf, half coyote but i still believe in all cryptids. i know their out there.

    • Isabelle newlin on

      the thylacine isn’t a cryptid, it just went extinct a long time ago. but it DID exist at one point which means it is not a cryptid, as it has been scientifically proven

  11. The reason that many of these cryptids exist in myths is just because they are fascinating stories and very effective when told around campfires. Really stokes the imagination. But as commenter Davo has written, for the existance of these creatures to continue over thousands of years there has to be thousands of them to exist just for breeding and procreating purposes.
    Take into account no physical evidence, no dead bodies or skeletal remains. This are myths for a reason. Because they are fun stories.

  12. Almost everyone carries a cell phone now. Almost all of these have picture taking capabilities. I await the flood of photographic evidence.

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