Happy October, fellow fiends! It’s the most magical time of year, where the pumpkins are ripe and the bats be beautiful. Of course, every day is halloween for some of us, and what better way to celebrate that by exploring some more of the worlds weirdest creatures, banished to the fringes of science!
Don’t turn your back in the forest, here’s three more creepy cryptids, to watch out for.
British Big Cats
Here on our fair British Isles, the forests and woodlands are quite a safe old space or us humans. We have no mountain lions, no bears, nor rabid wolves to trouble us on our gentle hikes. Such creatures were, sadly, hunted to extinction long ago. However, there are certain pockets of countryside where locals will tell you to keep your wits about you.
Living in the boarders between Wales and the Forest of Dean, I grew up with whispers of panthers and leopards living in the woods. We were even once called to an assembly in which the headmaster reported that a large cat had been seen on school grounds, accompanied by the disappearances of several pet cats, prompting a small gathering of television news crews. Living in such close proximity to the school at the time, I feared that myself and the family terrier would be eaten alive by such a great beast.
Around the same time, an 11 year old boy was reportedly attacked by a large cat, resulting in five claw makes across his cheek. This boy was a friend of a friend of mine, but in a deviation from the usual narrative, this attack was actually reported.
There are mountains of photo and video evidence supporting the existence of large, non-domesticated cats around the UK, however, many discredit these as false.
The validity of such creatures is well debated, with some in the paranormal community comparing their stories to that of phantom black dogs, and preferring a more ghostly origin. Some believe they are a relic from prehistoric times, managing to survive undetected for millennia. Others support the belief that these ‘alien’ big cats are alien in the extraterrestrial sense ad ca be likened to UFOs.
However, the origins of these fiesta felines are much more down to earth. Before the introduction of the 1976 Dangerous Wild Animals Act, it was surprisingly easy to keep large, exotic animals in the UK without a license. After this act was introduced, its theorised that some unscrupulous owners released the animals into the wild.
In fact, wildcats, including pumas, Eurasian Lynxes and jungle cats have been trapped or killed as recently as 2001. Additionally, DNA testing carried out by Durham University in 2011 found that a leopard was roaming north-Devon.
So, if you find yourself wandering the woods and forests of the UK, you best keep your wits about you. You never know what’s lurking in the shadows of the trees.
Another beasty I thought would come for me in the night, El Chupacabra – Spanish for ‘goat-sucker’ – is said to terrorise the Puerto Rico, Mexico and the Southwestern United States.
Although the name itself was’t coined until 1995, the first reports of such a creature originated back I the ‘70s and a series of livestock killings in Moca, Puerto Rico. Although initially blamed on cult activity, talks of a creature abound when animals across the island were found to have been bled dry of blood though a small, round incision. As similar attacks took place, a panic spread across South and Central America, two distinct descriptions of the creature emerged.
The first, description is of a reptile-like creature with leathery green or grey skin. Quills or spines are said to run down it’s back and it moves in a kangaroo like fashion, however, other description suggest a more canine appearance, although it is mostly hairless, and features pronounced spinal ridges. This description is most common in the South-western United States and has become popular of late, suggestsingthat the Chupacabra may be nothing more than a misidentified dog.
There are several breeds of hairless dogs native to Mexico and Late America, which have likely been mistake for the creature on occasion. Similarly, coyotes or other animals afflicted with mange are often thought to be responsible for Chupacabra sightings.
However, there are others who are sure the beast is extraterrestrial in nature, and others who believe it is the result of some kind of government experiment.
Legends of this weird and wonderful critter first circulated in 1955, when a traveling sales man supposedly spotted three leathery creatures with frog-like faces by the side of the road late one night in Loveland, Ohio.
Quite how seriously this initial sighting was taken, I’m not sure, but in 1972, the Frogman burst into local lore when a police officer reported an unidentified animal crossed the road in front of him late one night.
The creature, was fully illuminated by the officers lights and was described as being 3 to 4 feet long, with leathery skin and “crouched over like a frog”.
It’s easy to imagine Loveland being throw into a period of sheer terror, and this may have been the case, until two weeks later, when the creature was spotted again in the same location by another police officer.
This second officer shot the creature, and presented its body to the first for identification. The first officer agreed that it was, in fact, the creature he saw, and in the cold light of day, they came to a the monster was identified.
It was a large, tail-less iguana. Likely escaped from or released by its owner.
The officers recounted the story to an author researching a book o urban legends, and as is often the way, the identification of the creature was conveniently omitted from the final cut. Thus, the Loveland Frog entered into local Urban Legend.
In 2016, however, the Frog-man was spotted again by a pair of teenagers playing Pokemon Go. They claimed they witnessed a giant frog, which stood up and walked on its hind legs.
This was later found to have been a local high-schooler in a homemade frog costume.
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