Just how weird is our weird world? Have we truly discovered all that’s left to discover?
Well, according to some, a whole host of legendary creatures may be living right under our collective noses, so let’s dip our toe into the fabulous, farfetched world of cryptozoology and find out a little more about some of folklore’s favourite monsters.
Loch Ness Monster
One of Scotland’s best exports, Nessie is perhaps one of the most well known critters in popular folklore. Various lakes around the world have reports of their own monstrous beauty, but Loch Ness holds a special place in the hearts of cryptozoologists, young and old.
The very first recorded sighting of Nessie was made back in the sixth century AD, where Irish monk, Saint Columba, was said to have encountered a “water beast” who, naturally, fled when he made the sign of the cross.
Besides a handful of sightings in the late 1800s, Nessie really made her mark around 1933, after a road was built alongside Loch Ness, making it easily accessible to tourists, workers and monster hunters alike.
Most sightings of Nessie describe a large, dark coloured creature, similar to a plesiosaur – which became extinct around 65 million years ago.
Could Nessie be a lone survivor of this bygone era? Probably not. It’s inconceivable for a single creature to live that long, and the loch lacks the eco-structure to have supported a breeding colony.
There have been many-a hoax committed in our Nessie’s name, including the now infamous “surgeon’s photo”, thought to capture the head and neck of the creature. Unfortunately for monster hunter’s everywhere, the perpetrators admitted to faking the image with the help of a homemade model.
In the past few decades, multiple teams have carried out underwater searches using sonar and other bits of fancy-smanshy technology that my little brain can’t comprehend. Although some anomalous images (that may or may not be Nessie shaped if you tilt your head and squint), no concrete evidence of the Loch Ness Monster has been found.
Many believe what is thought to be Nessie is in fact the misidentification of everyday phenomena, such as boat wakes, and eels – DNA testing carried out one the waters of Loch Ness showed it’s full of eels.
Then again, maybe we’ll never find physical evidence of Nessie because she’s the ghost of a long dead plesiosaur? Maybe she’s an ancient fairy creature, only showing herself to those she deems spiritually worthy? Maybe I’m throwing around these bizarre, unprovable theories because Nessie is such a big part of British Folklore, that’s is a shame to dismiss her.
The scientist in me is rightly sceptical of a giant marine reptile living in Loch Ness, but that doesn’t mean my wide-eyed inner child wouldn’t scan the waters in hope of a glimpse of our watery friend. What do you think? Have you seen Nessie or one of her aquatic cousins?
Tales of wild men and hairy humanoids have been told across cultures, but the North American Sasquatch has become the figurehead of fringe science.
Many of North America’s Indigenous cultures have tales of ape-like creatures, but the creature(s) are commonly described as being large, ape-like humanoids, covered in black, brown or dark reddish hair. Some reports suggest that a foul smell often accompanies the creature.
One of the most infamous pieces of video evidence is the Patterson-Gimlin film, recorded in October 1967, in an area known as Bluff Creek in north California. Supposedly, the almost 60 second recording shows a female Sasquatch walking into the tree line.
The recording itself has been heavily scrutinised by zoologists, scientists and even film industry special effects artists, who have come away with conflicting interpretations.
Many of the scientific community regard the film as a hoax, claiming discrepancies in the creature’s gait, hair pattern and unusual gluteal clef (butt cheeks). That being said, others, have questioned how the hoaxers could have access to a costume of such quality.
Arguments surrounding the Patterson-Gimlin film will continue, as will the debate around Bigfoot’s existence.
To date, there has been no conclusive, physical proof to confirm the existence of a Bigfoot like creature roaming North America, but that doesn’t stop thousands of reported sightings across the years.
In fact, some believers maintain that we may never find ‘scientific’ evidence of Bigfoot because they are simply not of earthy origin. They claim that Sasquatch are inter-dimensional creatures, capable of psychic communication. Alternatively, some believe they are extraterrestrial in origin.
While I’m not ready to whip out my tin foil hat just yet, you wouldn’t catch me alone in the North American wilderness at night.
The Jersey Devil
According to legend, the New Jersey Pine Barrens are home to a monstrous creature. It has been described as a winged beast, with a horse like head, cloven hooves and a forked tail.
Supposedly witnessed by Joseph Bonaparte, brother of the better known, Napoleon, the creature has been blamed for attacks on livestock as far back as the 1800s.
The Jersey Devil – or as it is sometimes known, The Leeds Devil – has an origin story among my personal favourites. The story goes that Mother Leeds was not too happy to discover she was pregnant with her thirteenth child, and cursed it to be “the devil”. Upon its birth, the child changed into the beast, complete with bat like wings and a forked tail, which promptly flew up the chimney and into the woods.
History suggests that the Leeds in question were actually a family of Quakers, headed by Daniel Leeds, a publisher of almanacs – a yearly publication of information such as weather forecasts and farmers’ dates – who fell out of favour with his fellow Quakers, after including astrological symbols and other “blasphemous” topics in his writings.
Despite his origins, the Jersey Devil has been an important part of New Jersey folklore for over 200 years, even featuring as a muse for New Jersey’s other famous son, Bruce Springsteen, in his song A Night With The Jersey Devil.
Although covered in my previous Case File, no list of famous cryptids would be complete without my beloved, Mothman.
The Mothman first rose his glorious head in 1966, when a group of teens out for ‘a drive’ were accosted by a ten-foot tall winged beauty, with glowing red eyes.
Thirteen months to the day of the day of this sighting, an undeniable tragedy occurred in Point Pleasant – the Mothman’s stoping ground – when The Silver Bride collapsed into the Ohio River.
Although a handful of sightings happened in between, the collapse of the bridge seemed to put an end to the Mothman’s visits, leaving the two forever entwined as many came to see his as an omen of misfortune.
So what do you make of these creepy cryptids? Do you think we should “put the kybosh” on them, as our good friend Gef the Mongoose may say?
Do cryptids represent that part of humanity that strives towards understand the unknown? Even in the face of scientific evidence to the contrary, should we just let monsters be monsters? After all, they give up hope that there’s always something left to look for in the dark.
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