Monster hunters, prepare for adventure! Here are more than a few creatures that aren't on most radars, sighted in 10 amazing places.
Cryptozoology is the search for and study of cryptids, or legendary beasts whose existence hasn’t been conclusively proven.
It requires an eager suspension of disbelief, and delight in the mad science of tested hair gathered from Bigfoot sightings or routine ultrasound scans of the silt-clotted depths of Loch Ness. It also involves finding proud company in the ranks of otherwise normal people with unflappable convictions about pretty improbable things.
Interestingly, those ranks are pretty thick. That’s because people love to believe…and because there are scores more cryptids than most people realize—from shapeshifting otters and raptorial koalas to colossal flying bats and hairy hominids—all hidden away in remote lairs all over the world.
So for amateur monster hunters in search of big adventure, here’s a bevy of cryptids you’ve probably never heard of in 10 of the earth’s most wild and gorgeous locations.
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There is more than one snake-necked lake beast lurking in the depths of Scotland‘s highland lochs. The world knows Nessie, the catalyst for a lucrative local tourist trade, but how many visitors are alert to her lookalike aquatic kin: Mòrag (in Loch Morar), Muc-sheilch (in Loch Maree), and Seileag (in Loch Shiel), among others? And then there’s the Bigfoot-like Am Fear Liath Mòr, the shadowy Greyman haunting the heights of the Cairngorm range. In Scotland, young lads and lassies look before they leap!
Who really thinks that Sasquatch skulks alone? Certainly not in America’s Pacific Northwest, a sprawling temperate rainforest thick with age-old legends of deadly therianthropes (shapeshifters). Woodland wanderers beware! Rumored to be cloaked by the underbrush are (when in animal form) the large, wolf-like Waheela—a devotee of decapitation—and the otter-like Kushtaka, which is said to have a taste for toddlers. Also, not to be overlooked: Ogopogo, the giant sea serpent of Okanagan Lake; and the Pacific Tree Octopus, an endangered, amphibian cephalopod.
Not all yetis are created equal. While exploring the high-elevation, snow-packed slopes of this greatest Asian mountain range, most eyewitnesses have reportedly discovered footprints belonging to abominable snow creatures like the Nyalmo, a hulking, hairy biped standing 12-15 feet high and boasting size 20 tootsies. Intrepid trekkers sticking to lower climes should also stay wary of the striped, hyena-like Chuti and any liberated Tulpas, those sentient, paranormal “thoughtform” emanations created by powerful Tibetan mystics.
Australia‘s Red Centre can be intimidating. It’s vast, open, and largely empty, making it an ideal landscape for the Yowie–a clawed, fanged, giant marsupial humanoid–to wander. This Bigfoot Down Under, also known by many other names, has figured prominently in Aboriginal oral history for millennia. And it isn’t the wide horizon’s only anomaly. Watch the gum trees for Drop Bears, an overgrown, carnivorous koala; and be on the lookout for venomous Hoop Snakes, which travel by swallowing their tails and rolling like wheels.
The Amazon Rainforest
If there really is large, inconclusively chronicled, meat-eating fauna anywhere on this planet, surely it must be deep within the dense, biodiverse wilds of the Amazon. That’s where inattentive creature-chasers fall prey to the Minhocão, a giant (up to 10 feet in diameter), scaly black worm with a prominent maw; the Tapire-iauara, a soul-stealing, semi-aquatic, big-eared, cow-sized combo of a tapir and a jaguar; and the Mapinguari, a giant sloth with a human mouth in the middle of its stomach.
The Congo Basin’s lowland rainforest is the world’s second-largest, covering more than 675,000 square miles in six central African countries (but principally-located in the Democratic Republic of Congo). Fittingly, it is fantastically rich in both animals and plants. Part of the mix are dinosaur-like daemons: the Mokele-mbembe, which looks like a long-necked sauropod; the elephant-sized, snout-horned Emela-ntouka; and the aquatic, ridge-backed Mbielu-mbielu-mbielu. Arguably much more hair-raising is the J’ba Fofi, a giant predatory arachnid with legs up to five feet long.
Teeming with wildlife, the extensive forests of Kenya, Tanzania, and environs are a mammalian reserve that nature lovers consider one of the greatest on earth. However, herded in with the Big Five animals and their well-known cohort of safari favorites is a handful of more mysterious varmints. There’s the brain-eating hyena and the bear-like Kerit; the Agogwe, a small, vicious biped sometimes imagined as a surviving australopithecine primate; the oversized, mane-less, man-eating Buffalo Lion; and the Mngwa, another large, grey feline.
The Eurasian Steppe’s temperate grasslands and savannas are a stunning hallmark of Mongolia’s barren landscape. Where better for secretive species to hide in plain sight? Top of the list is the Allghoi khorkhoi, aka the Mongolian Death Worm, a Gobi Desert reptile whose venom can liquefy internal organs. Maybe they sometimes feast on a wayward Alma, a hairy, human-like “wild man;” or a lazy Mongolian Goat-Antelope, the grazing, hoofed ravine dweller whose habitats are supposedly kept secret by locals.
Three things for which Indonesia is known are its “orang” (Indonesian for “person”—the native orangutan ape is a “person of the forest”), bats, and large swaths of unexplored jungle. Combine all three, and a tree-based flying terror is the inevitable result. On the island of Seram, the Orang-bati is a winged primate known for carrying away and eating children. Similarly, from Java comes the Ahool, a flesh-hungry bat with a monstrous wingspan of 15 or more feet.
Oceans cover approximately 71% of the planet, and about 95% of that is unexplored, leaving vast fathoms of briny unknown as safe harbor for the 80% of all living things that inhabit it. This includes the enigmatic wonders that sometimes reach the surface, like the cadborosaurus sea serpent, of which British Columbia‘s Caddy is the most famous; behemoths of the deep such as the Kraken (squid) and Lusca (octopus); and the bizarre, boneless globsters that periodically wash up on beaches.