With Halloween approaching you’ll be hearing lots about ridiculous fictional monsters like vampires and zombies. But what about the “real” monsters that may be skulking around the country undetected? Let’s take a look at a few of these scary cryptids that may or may not exist.
1. The Skunk Ape
These stinky monsters could be lurking most anywhere around the South, but they have a particular tendency to pop up in Florida. The skunk ape is a seven-foot-tall behemoth that looks something like a gorilla, but his truly distinguishing feature is his awful smell. Skunk ape sightings date back to the 1940s, and in 2000 the Sarasota Sheriff’s Department even received an anonymous letter containing several pictures of a smelly ape wandering around in the night.
While the National Park Service has dismissed the existence of skunk apes as a myth—the service says the sightings are probably just a guy in a gorilla suit who might end up getting himself shot—local residents remain adamant that the fragrant primates occasionally appear to terrorize their pets.
2. The Dover Demon
In the spring of 1977, three different teenagers had encounters with an odd humanoid creature over the span of two days. The creature, which was later dubbed “the Dover Demon,” was supposedly around four feet tall with glowing orange eyes, a watermelon-shaped head, and long, thin fingers.
The Dover Demon disappeared after those two days, and he hasn’t been seen since. Some skeptics dismiss the stories because of the witnesses’ young ages, while others think the teens may have seen a moose foal. The witnesses remain adamant that they saw the bizarre creature. Williams Bartlett, who went on to become a successful painter, still maintains that he saw something weird and even wrote on his sketch of the demon, “‘I, Bill Bartlett, swear on a stack of Bible’s [sic] that I saw this creature.”
Champ is Lake Champlain’s answer to the Loch Ness Monster. Ever since a railroad crew first reported spotting the “head of an enormous serpent sticking out of the water” in 1819, reports of a long-necked sea monster have been coming out of Lake Champlain. In the 1880s, P.T. Barnum even offered a $50,000 reward to anyone who could bring in Champ dead or alive, and even though many tried to collect the bounty, none succeeded. Although there have been over 300 reports of Champ sightings, including some by law enforcement officials and entire crews of ships, scientists haven’t been able to prove Champ exists.
4. The Honey Island Swamp Monster
What is it with cryptids and poor hygiene? Louisiana’s Honey Island Swamp Monster is supposedly every bit as malodorous as the skunk ape. Retired air traffic controller Harlan Ford first spotted the monster in 1963; he described it as being seven feet tall with gray hair and large amber eyes. A few years later researchers found footprints they thought could belong to the swamp monster. The large prints had four webbed toes, which led to a popular local legend that the monster is the product of (biologically impossible) interbreeding between alligators and circus chimpanzees that may have been lost in the swamp in a train crash decades earlier.
5. The Fouke Monster
If you’ve ever seen the classic 1972 low-budget horror docudrama The Legend of Boggy Creek, you’ve heard of this particular monster. In the mid-1950s, residents of Fouke, Arkansas, reported that a large, roaring ape-like creature was stalking their farms and killing livestock. In May 1971 the monster allegedly attacked the home of Bobby and Elizabeth Ford and even threw Bobby from his own porch. Law enforcement and local hunters attempted to track the monster, but they only turned up a series of large three-toed footprints.
Here’s the trailer from the aforementioned film adaptation of the story:
6. The Jersey Devil
This one’s significantly more terrifying than New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, although the monstrous local legend did lend his name to the hockey team. As the story goes, in the early 18th century a poor woman named Mother Leeds proclaimed, “Let this one be a devil,” while giving birth to her 13th child, only to have the curse come true. The “child” emerged with hooves, leathery wings, horns, and sharp claws, killed the midwives, and began flying around wreaking havoc.
The legend has certainly had staying power. Nearly 200 years later, the Devil became a big deal again in 1909. That January, reports of odd footprints being found in the snow on the roofs of houses caused such a panic that the devil was up to no good that mills and schools closed after workers and students were too terrified to leave their homes.
Since then, the Jersey Devil has received the credit and blame for all sorts of strange happenings around the Garden State. Lose a cow? The devil probably flew off with it? Hear a weird noise. The devil, naturally. In 1960, Camden’s merchants even offered a $10,000 bounty to anyone who could capture the mischievous flying devil, but they never found any takers.
7. The Loveland Frog
What does a three-foot-tall bipedal frog smell like? If you believe the people who have spotted Ohio’s Loveland Frog, the creatures have a distinct odor of alfalfa and almonds. The frogs first revealed themselves to the public in 1955, when either a police officer or a businessman (reports vary) saw three or four of the yard-tall frog-face creatures squatting under a bridge near Loveland, Ohio. In 1972 two police officers spotted a similar giant frog creature that hopped over a fence and into the Little Miami River.
One of the officers who made the second sighting, Mark Matthews, has since claimed that what he saw wasn’t a frog-faced creature, but rather some sort of large pet lizard that had escaped from its home. Many locals still believe that the Loveland Frogs are still lurking, though.