16 Cryptids That Might (Or Might Not) Exist

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Cryptozoology is the study of creatures whose existence has yet to be—or else cannot entirely be—proved or disproved by science. These creatures, known collectively as cryptids, include examples like the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, and the Himalayan Yeti, yet these famous cases are by no means the only ones on record. In fact, practically every country and corner of the globe has its own legendary monster or mystery creature that supposedly dwells there, from giant bats in Java to enormous water hounds in Ireland.

1. AHOOL

Ahools are enormous carnivorous bats that are said to inhabit the rainforests of Java in Indonesia. Believed to have a wingspan in excess of 10 feet (making them roughly the same size as a condor), ahools are said to be covered in a thick brown or black fur like fruit bats, but unlike bats have long, powerful legs and claws and are supposedly capable of pouncing on and snatching up live prey—including humans, if the stories are to be believed—from open ground. Sightings of ahools are often dismissed simply as mistaken glimpses of owls, eagles, and other large birds of prey that inhabit the same rainforests, but some sources claim the creatures do indeed exist, and may even be an isolated and as-yet undiscovered species descended from pterosaurs.

2. AKKOROKAMUI

The native Ainu people of Japan have long believed that Volcano Bay off the south coast of Hokkaido is home to an enormous octopus called the Akkorokamui. Numerous sightings of the creature have been made over the years; British missionary named John Batchelor, who was working on Hokkaido in the early 1900s, recorded one such sighting in his book The Ainu and Their Folklore, writing that “a great sea monster with large staring eyes” had attacked three local fishermen and their boat: “The monster was round in shape, and emitted a dark fluid and noxious odour… The three men fled in dismay, not so much indeed for fear, they say, but on account of the dreadful smell. However that may have been, they were so scared that the next morning all three refused to get up and eat; they were lying in their beds pale and trembling.”

3. ALTAMAHA-HA

The Altamaha-ha is a 20- to 30-foot long river monster with large flippers and a seal-like snout that is said to inhabit the mouth of the Altamaha River near Darien, Georgia. Although numerous accounts of sightings of the Altamaha-ha have apparently been made over the years, the fact that Darien was founded as New Inverness by a band of Scottish Highlanders in 1736 seems to suggest that the legend is probably nothing more than a descendent of the Scots settlers’ tales of the Loch Ness Monster.

4. DOBHAR-CHÚ

The Dobhar-chú, or “water-hound,” is a legendary otter-like animal that supposedly lives in isolated freshwater loughs and rivers in Ireland. Usually described as a half-dog, half-fish hybrid with a long snaking body covered in thick fur, the Dobhar-chú is large and heavyset, but can move very fast both in the water and on land—even, according to one story, being able to keep up with a galloping horse. Sightings of the creature date back several centuries in Ireland, and there are at least two gravestones (including one, in County Leitrim, dating back as far as 1722) of people who were reportedly attacked and killed by a Dobhar-chú.

5. EMELA-NTOUKA

A number of native Central African tribes believe the swamps of the Congo basin to be inhabited by an enormous semi-aquatic creature known as the emela-ntouka. Similar to but larger than a hippopotamus, and armed with a single long bony tusk or horn in the center of its forehead, the emela-ntouka is apparently herbivorous but like the hippo has a reputation for being dangerously confrontational when disturbed, and has even been known to turn on and kill creatures even larger than itself; its name means "elephant killer."

6. FILIKO TERAS

The waters off the coast of Cape Greco National Park in Cyprus are supposedly home to a seamonster known locally as To Filiko Teras, or “the friendly monster.” As its name suggests, the monster has apparently never attacked humans, but it has nevertheless gained a reputation for destroying fishermen’s nets and upturning smaller boats. Stories of the Filiko Teras are probably inspired by the Greek legend of Scylla, a huge seamonster that attacks Odysseus’s boat in The Odyssey, but in truth sightings of the creature are probably nothing more than mistaken sightings of squids or octopuses.

7. GROOTSLANG

The grootslang, or “great snake,” is a legendary monster said to dwell in the caves of the Richtersveld, a mountainous desert region in northwestern South Africa. In local mythology, grootslangs were primordial creatures comprised of the head and front of an elephant and the back and tail of an enormous serpent. When the Earth was created, the grootslangs were all apparently destroyed, but according to legend, some survived and retreated to the deepest caves of the Northern Cape province. Tales of enormous tusked snakes—probably inspired by real-life sightings of enormous pythons that live in the same area—have rumbled on in South African folklore ever since; the mysterious disappearance of a British diamond magnate named Peter Grayson in the Richtersveld caves in 1917 is sometimes blamed on a grootslang.

8. JERSEY DEVIL

The Jersey Devil is a cryptid said to live in the Pine Barrens region of New Jersey. According to legend, the creature was the unwanted thirteenth son of one of the state’s earliest settlers, Mother Leeds, who offered her son to the Devil on his birth in 1735 because she and her husband couldn't afford to raise another child. Ever since then, hundreds of reported sightings of a grotesque two-legged, hooved monster with a sheep-like head and large scaly wings have been reported in the Pine Barrens, including one famous incident in the winter of 1909 when a long trail of hooved footprints, crossing under fences and over walls and rooftops, mysteriously appeared in the snow one night.

9. MAPINGUARI

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

The Mapinguari is a large ape-like creature said to inhabit the rainforests straddling the border between Brazil and Bolivia. According to local folklore, the Mapinguari stands around 8 feet tall, has a tough (and apparently bulletproof) covering of scales on its back, thick red fur on its head and belly, long, curved claws, and, if all of the stories are to be believed, a second mouth in the center of its stomach. When approached by humans, the Mapinguari is said to rear up on its hind legs like a bear and can supposedly produce a foul-smelling scent to ward off potential hunters. As recently as 2007 a sighting was reported in The New York Times.

10. OGOPOGO

The Ogopogo is a vast water serpent said to reside in Lake Okanagan in British Columbia. Sightings of the Ogopogo date back to the early 1800s, when the creature was originally known by the native name n’haitaka , meaning “lake devil.” The name Ogopogo wasn’t adopted until the 1920s, when it was lifted from the title of a popular English musical hall number called The Ogo-Pogo: The Funny Foxtrot: “I’m looking for the Ogo-pogo, / The funny little Ogo-pogo. / His mother was an earwig, his father was a whale, / I’m going to put a little bit of salt on his tail.”

11. OLGOI-KHORKHOI

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

The name olgoi-khorkhoi means “large intestine worm” in Mongolian, but this 4-foot-long subterranean cryptid is more like a giant earthworm than a parasitic tapeworm. Also known less subtly as the “Mongolian death worm,” the olgoi-khorkhoi apparently lives beneath the sands of the southern Gobi Desert, only coming up to the surface in the warmer summer months or when the ground becomes too wet for it to survive. Sightings of the worms date back several centuries amongst the native Mongolians, many of whom claim the olgoi-khorkhoi is able to spit venom or even acid from its mouth, while its body is apparently coated with such a toxic slime that anyone who happens to touch it will be instantly killed.

12. MOMO

“Momo”—short for “Missouri monster”—is a mysterious apeman similar to Bigfoot, which is said to inhabit the forests alongside the Mississippi River as it passes through Missouri. First reported in 1971, Momo is described as 7 to 8 feet tall with a broad pumpkin-shaped head, and is supposedly covered head to foot in thick dark fur. According to some accounts, the creature is notoriously aggressive, and like the South American Mapinguari, is able to produce a grotesque smell—even worse than a skunk’s—in order to ward off would-be attackers.

13. SHUCK

The folklore of the British Isles is littered with tales of mysterious black dogs that supposedly haunt rural towns and villages across the country. The Shuck—a huge black hound said to dwell in East Anglia, on the far eastern coast of England—is probably one of the most famous, having apparently attacked a church in the village of Bungay, Suffolk, during a thunderstorm in 1577. According to local records, while the villagers were sheltering from the storm in the church, a huge black dog burst through the church door, killing a man and his son, and pulling down one of the pillars supporting the church steeple, which collapsed into the nave. As it fled the church, the Shuck apparently left scorch marks in the wood of the church door that can still be seen to this day.

14. TATZELWURM

Tatzelwurms are lizard-like creatures that are supposed to inhabit the most isolated regions of the Alps. Although accounts of their size and appearance vary, they are typically said to be around 2 to 5 feet in length, with a broad cat-like head and a wide gaping mouth. Their forelimbs are short and armed with long claws, but they have no hind legs and instead their bodies taper into a long snake-like tail. Numerous sightings of the creatures—which are known as tatzelwurms in Germany, arassas in France, stollenwurms in Switzerland, bergstutzens in Austria, and basiliscos in Italy—have been made all over the Alps, including a recent spate of sightings reported in Italy’s Il Giorno newspaper as recently as 2009.

15. TESSIE

Tahoe Tessie is a lake monster said to live in the waters of Lake Tahoe in central California. Sightings of Tessie date back to at least the 19th century and usually describe a vast snake-like creature with a long neck and humped back, that swims so fast that it can even keep up with sailboats. Strangely, according to local folklore, Tessie sightings are always more common in even-numbered years than odd.

16. YOWIE

Yowies are a species of Bigfoot-like apes said to inhabit the Australian Outback. Usually described as tall and stocky, and covered head to foot in thick black or dark red fur, most accounts of yowie sightings claim the creatures are shy and very easily spooked, although some tales claim they can be confrontational and can produce a bloodcurdling scream when threatened. Nowadays, the creatures are generally considered a myth, but in the 19th century, sightings were remarkably common, to the extent that in 1892 an Australian amateur adventurer and scholar named Herbert J. McCooey—who had supposedly spotted a yowie near Bateman’s Bay in New South Wales several years earlier—wrote to the Australian Museum in Sydney, offering to capture one of the creatures for a fee of £40 (around US$3000/£1,800 today). He failed.

All images courtesy of iStock unless otherwise noted.

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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10 Facts About Real Genius On Its 35th Anniversary

Val Kilmer stars in Martha Coolidge's Real Genius (1985).
Val Kilmer stars in Martha Coolidge's Real Genius (1985).
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

In an era where nerd is a nickname given by and to people who have pretty much any passing interest in popular culture, it’s hard to imagine the way old-school nerds—people with serious and socially-debilitating obsessions—were once ostracized. Computers, progressive rock, and role-playing games (among a handful of other 1970s- early '80s developments) created a path from which far too many of the lonely, awkward, and conventionally undateable would never return. But in the 1980s, movies transformed these oddballs into underdogs and antiheroes, pitting them against attractive, moneyed, successful adversaries for the fate of handsome boys and pretty girls, cushy jobs, and first-place trophies.

The 1985 film Real Genius ranked first among equals from that decade for its stellar cast, sensitive direction, and genuine nerd bona fides. Perhaps fittingly, it sometimes feels overshadowed, and even forgotten, next to broader, bawdier (and certainly now, more problematic) films from the era like Revenge of the Nerds and Weird Science. But director Martha Coolidge delivered a classic slobs-versus-snobs adventure that manages to view the academically gifted and socially maladjusted with a greater degree of understanding and compassion while still delivering plenty of good-natured humor.

As the movie commemorates its 35th anniversary, we're looking back at the little details and painstaking efforts that make it such an enduring portrait not just of ‘80s comedy, but of nerdom itself.

1. Producer Brian Grazer wanted Valley Girl director Martha Coolidge to direct Real Genius. She wasn’t sure she wanted to.

Following the commercial success of 1984’s Revenge of the Nerds, there was an influx of bawdy scripts that played upon the same idea, and Real Genius was one of them. In 2011, Coolidge told Kickin’ It Old School that the original script for Real Genius "had a lot of penis and scatological jokes," and she wasn't interested in directing a raunchy Nerds knock-off. So producer Brian Grazer enlisted PJ Torokvei (SCTV) and writing partners Babaloo Mandel and Lowell Ganz (Splash, City Slickers) to refine the original screenplay, and then gave Coolidge herself an opportunity to polish it before production started. “Brian's original goal, and mine, was to make a film that focused on nerds as heroes," Coolidge said. "It was ahead of its time."

2. Martha Coolidge’s priority was getting the science in Real Genius right—or at least as right as possible.

In the film, ambitious professor Jerry Hathaway (William Atherton) recruits high-achieving students at the fictional Pacific Technical University (inspired by Caltech) to design and build a laser capable of hitting a human-sized target from space. Coolidge researched the subject thoroughly, working with academic, scientific, and military technicians to ensure that as many of the script and story's elements were correct. Moreover, she ensured that the dialogue would hold up to some scrutiny, even if building a laser of the film’s dimensions wasn’t realistic (and still isn’t today).

3. One element of Real Genius that Martha Coolidge didn’t base on real events turned out to be truer than expected.

From the beginning, the idea that students were actively being exploited by their teacher to develop government technology was always fictional. But Coolidge learned that art and life share more in common than she knew at the time. “I have had so many letters since I made Real Genius from people who said, 'Yes, I was involved in a program and I didn’t realize I was developing weapons,'" she told Uproxx in 2015. “So it was a good guess and turned out to be quite accurate.”

4. Val Kilmer walked into his Real Genius audition already in character—and it nearly cost him the role.

After playing the lead in Top Secret!, Val Kilmer was firmly on Hollywood’s radar. But when he met Grazer at his audition for Real Genius, Kilmer decided to have some fun at the expense of the guy who would decide whether or not he’d get the part. "The character wasn't polite," Kilmer recalled to Entertainment Weekly in 1995. "So when I shook Grazer's hand and he said, 'Hi, I'm the producer,' I said, 'I'm sorry. You look like you're 12 years old. I like to work with men.'"

5. The filmmakers briefly considered using an actual “real genius” to star in Real Genius.

Among the performers considered to play Mitch, the wunderkind student who sets the movie’s story in motion, was a true genius who graduated college at 14 and was starting law school. Late in the casting process, they found their Mitch in Gabriel Jarrett, who becomes the third generation of overachievers (after Kilmer’s Chris and Jon Gries’s Lazlo Hollyfeld) whose talent Hathaway uses to further his own professional goals.

6. Real Genius's female lead inadvertently created a legacy for her character that would continue in animated form.

Michelle Meyrink, Gabriel Jarret, Val Kilmer, and Mark Kamiyama in Real Genius (1985).Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Michelle Meyrink was a staple of a number of ‘80s comedies, including Revenge of the Nerds. Playing Jordan in Real Genius, she claims to “never sleep” and offers a delightful portrait of high-functioning attention-deficit disorder with a chipper, erratic personality. Disney’s Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers co-creator Tad Stones has confirmed that her character went on to inspire the character of Gadget Hackwrench.

7. A Real Genius subplot, where a computer programmer is gaming a Frito-Lay contest, was based on real events.

In the film, Jon Gries (Napoleon Dynamite) plays Lazlo Hollyfeld, a reclusive genius from before Chris and Mitch’s time who lives in a bunker beneath their dorm creating entries to a contest with no restrictions where he eventually wins more than 30 percent of the prizes. In 1969, students from Caltech tried a similar tactic with Frito-Lay to game the odds. But in 1975, three computer programmers used an IBM to generate 1.2 million entries in a contest for McDonald’s, where they received 20 percent of the prizes (and a lot of complaints from customers) for their effort.

8. One of Real Genius's cast members went on to write another tribute to nerds a decade later.

Dean Devlin, who co-wrote Stargate and Independence Day with Roland Emmerich, plays Milton, another student at Pacific Tech who experiences a memorable meltdown in the rush up to finals.

9. The popcorn gag that ends Real Genius isn’t really possible, but they used real popcorn to simulate it.

At the end of the film, Chris and Mitch build a giant Jiffy Pop pack that the laser unleashes after they redirect its targeting system. The resulting popcorn fills Professor Hathaway’s house as an act of revenge. MythBusters took pains to recreate this gag in a number of ways, but quickly discovered that it wouldn’t work; even at scale, the popcorn just burns in the heat of a laser.

To pull off the scene in the film, Coolidge said that the production had people popping corn for six weeks of filming in order to get enough for the finale. After that, they had to build a house that they could manipulate with hydraulics so that the popcorn would “explode” out of every doorway and window.

10. Real Genius was the first movie to be promoted on the internet.

A week before Real Genius opened, promoters set up a press conference at a computer store in Westwood, California. Coolidge and members of the cast appeared to field questions from press from across the country—connected via CompuServe. Though the experience was evidently marred by technical problems (this was the mid-1980s, after all), the event marked the debut of what became the online roundtable junket.