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.

10 Reusable Gifts for Your Eco-Friendliest Friend

Disposable tea bags can't compete with this pla-tea-pus and his friends.
Disposable tea bags can't compete with this pla-tea-pus and his friends.
DecorChic/Amazon

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By this point, your eco-friendly pal probably has a reusable water bottle that accompanies them everywhere and some sturdy grocery totes that keep their plastic-bag count below par. Here are 10 other sustainable gift ideas that’ll help them in their conservation efforts.

1. Reusable Produce Bags; $13

No more staticky plastic bags.Naturally Sensible/Amazon

The complimentary plastic produce bags in grocery stores aren’t great, but neither is having all your spherical fruits and vegetables roll pell-mell down the checkout conveyor belt. Enter the perfect alternative: mesh bags that are nylon, lightweight, and even machine-washable.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Animal Tea Infusers; $16

Nothing like afternoon tea with your tiny animal friends.DecorChic/Amazon

Saying goodbye to disposable tea bags calls for a quality tea diffuser, and there’s really no reason why it shouldn’t be shaped like an adorable animal. This “ParTEA Pack” includes a hippo, platypus, otter, cat, and owl, which can all hang over the edge of a glass or mug. (In other words, you won’t have to fish them out with your fingers or dirty a spoon when your loose leaf is done steeping.)

Buy it: Amazon

3. Rocketbook Smart Notebook; $25

Typing your notes on a tablet or laptop might save trees, but it doesn’t quite capture the feeling of writing on paper with a regular pen. The Rocketbook, on the other hand, does. After you’re finished filling a page with sketches, musings, or whatever else, you scan it into the Rocketbook app with your smartphone, wipe it clean with the microfiber cloth, and start again. This one also comes with a compatible pen, but any PILOT FriXion pens will do.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Food Huggers; $13

"I'm a hugger!"Food Huggers/Amazon

It’s hard to compete with the convenience of plastic wrap or tin foil when it comes to covering the exposed end of a piece of produce or an open tin can—and keeping those leftovers in food storage containers can take up valuable space in the fridge. This set of five silicone Food Huggers stretch to fit over a wide range of circular goods, from a lidless jar to half a lemon.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Swiffer Mop Pads; $15

For floors that'll shine like the top of the Chrysler Building.Turbo Microfiber/Amazon

Swiffers may be much less unwieldy than regular mops, but the disposable pads present a problem to anyone who likes to keep their trash output to a minimum. These machine-washable pads fasten to the bottom of any Swiffer WetJet, and the thick microfiber will trap dirt and dust instead of pushing it into corners. Each pad lasts for at least 100 uses, so you’d be saving your eco-friendly friend quite a bit of money, too.

Buy it: Amazon

6. SodaStream for Sparkling Water; $69

A fondness for fizzy over flat water doesn’t have to mean buying it bottled. Not only does the SodaStream let you make seltzer at home, but it’s also small enough that it won’t take up too much precious counter space. SodaStream also sells flavor drops to give your home-brewed beverage even more flair—this pack from Amazon ($25) includes mango, orange, raspberry, lemon, and lime.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Washable Lint Roller; $13

Roller dirty.iLifeTech/Amazon

There’s a good chance that anyone with a pet (or just an intense dislike for lint) has lint-rolled their way through countless sticky sheets. iLifeTech’s reusable roller boasts “the power of glue,” which doesn’t wear off even after you’ve washed it. Each one also comes with a 3-inch travel-sized version, so you can stay fuzz-free on the go.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Countertop Compost Bin; $23

Like a tiny Tin Man for your table.Epica/Amazon

Even if you keep a compost pile in your own backyard, it doesn’t make sense to dash outside every time you need to dump a food scrap. A countertop compost bin can come in handy, especially if it kills odors and blends in with your decor. This 1.3-gallon pail does both. It’s made of stainless steel—which matches just about everything—and contains an activated-charcoal filter that prevents rancid peels and juices from stinking up your kitchen.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Fabric-Softening Dryer Balls; $17

Also great for learning how to juggle without breaking anything.Smart Sheep

Nobody likes starchy, scratchy clothes, but some people might like blowing through bottles of fabric softener and boxes of dryer sheets even less. Smart Sheep is here to offer a solution: wool dryer balls. Not only do they last for more than 1000 loads, they also dry your laundry faster. And since they don’t contain any chemicals, fragrances, or synthetic materials, they’re a doubly great option for people with allergies and/or sensitive skin.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Rechargeable Batteries; $40

Say goodbye to loose batteries in your junk drawer.eneloop/Amazon

While plenty of devices are rechargeable themselves, others still require batteries to buzz, whir, and change the TV channel—so it’s good to have some rechargeable batteries on hand. In addition to AA batteries, AAA batteries, and a charger, this case from Panasonic comes with tiny canisters that function as C and D batteries when you slip the smaller batteries into them.

Buy it: Amazon

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The 10 Best Holiday Gifts $25 and Under

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Whether you're shopping on a budget or looking for gifts for the person in your life who's halfway between acquaintance and friend, this list of great presents for small prices should do the trick. Fun and silly, thoughtful and serious, useful and frivolous, this group of gifts is filled with old favorites and new delights. Fair warning: You may end up buying two of whatever you pick.

1. Anker Power Bank; $22

Amazon

Need a little extra boost? Tired of looking down at the Low Power Mode warning? This incredibly light on-the-go charger is a tiny powerhouse that will keep your phone at 100 percent and keep you from scrambling to find a wall outlet at the airport. It also comes with its own travel pouch and an 18-month warranty, but the cable is sold separately. It's a solid one-for-me-one-for-them gift.

Buy it: Amazon

2. FYC Wool Socks; $13

Amazon

For the friend in your life with feet, consider these thick, stylish socks that evoke a vintage design while keeping toes toasty (and sweat-free). They're made of a blend of cotton, wool, and polyester, so you get the best of all worlds: comfortable, warm, and breathable. Plus, they're versatile enough to go with pajamas, your hiking gear, or Zoom-ready business casual.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Zulay Kitchen Stovetop Espresso Maker; $17

Amazon

This sturdy, classic brewer is perfect for the person in your life who is interested in upping their cup game. It's simple and sleek, but it also comes with a pressure valve (couldn't we all use one?) to boost caffeine extraction, and the design allows for espresso, crema, foam emulsions, and more. Best of all, clean up is easy, so you don't have to worry about grimy boiled bean build-up.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Meriwool Beanie; $21

Amazon

Need a great gift that everyone can appreciate? No sweat! Meriwool's wool beanie comes in nine different colors and will look great on anyone hoping for something soft to hug their cranium. Made with 100 percent all natural superfine 18.5-micron Merino wool, it's not a head-scratcher, and the material is naturally moisture-wicking.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Bob Ross Coloring Book; $7

Amazon

No one is going to judge you for using paintbrushes on this coloring book. Or crayons, markers, pencils, or your fingers. The beauty of this official coloring book celebrating the art of American icon Bob Ross is that it gives you a rough image to project your own designs on. It's far from paint-by-numbers, and it'll be a welcomed gift for anyone in your life who needs to destress with a little creativity.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Jim from The Office Funko; $9

Amazon

Six days since our last nonsense seems ambitious, but fans of the hit workplace comedy will appreciate having an adorable version of Jim Halpert to sardonically stare at them from behind their keyboard. Naturally, there's also figures of Michael, Pam, Dwight, and the whole Office gang in case you've got someone with a growing collection on your list. Plus, there's always the rabbit hole of Funkos that should satisfy fans of everything from Anime to Zombie flicks.

Buy it: Amazon

7. The Godfather Family Album; $25

Amazon

It's almost criminal that this book is so inexpensive. This 512-page hardcover gem showcases Steve Shapiro's iconic on-set photography of the immortalized mob film. Striking, unique images of Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, and the rest of the cast of The Godfather sit alongside the sharp film writing of historian Paul Duncan, making this a definitive tome that belongs on every fan's coffee table.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Star wars The Child Monopoly; $20

Amazon

There are hundreds of different versions of the classic game about buying rectangles and charging outrageous prices for landing on the wrong ones, but for those who are loving The Mandalorian, this version drops you right into the series' adventures. The only problem is that everyone will call dibs on the Hoverpram piece. This is the way.

Buy it: Amazon

9. British Chocolate Bar Selection; $20

Amazon

Give someone the ability to travel to Britain from the comfort of wherever they can unwrap a wrapper. Crunchie, Bounty, and Fry's Peppermint Cream are just a few of the offerings in this Global Treats pack that can remind someone of home or share a piece of the UK with your favorite anglophile. Don't worry—no fun size here. They're all full size and delicious.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Stanley travel mug; $25

Amazon

Stanley has over a hundred years of quality craftsmanship under its toolbelt. This sturdy, cup-holder-ready mug benefits from that experience and boasts double-wall vacuum insulation to keep piping coffee hot for seven hours and chilly lemonade cold for up to 10. Toss in some ice cubes, and whatever you're sipping stays cold for up to 30! It comes with a trigger action lid for one-handed, leak-proof use, making it perfect for the exercise bike or the office. Everyone could use another way of transporting their drink of choice, and this might just replace what they've already got.

Buy it: Amazon