22 Creepy Cryptids From Around the World
From Bigfoot and Yeti to the Loch Ness Monster and Mokele-mbembe, the world is full of cryptids. Merriam-Webster defines a cryptid as “an animal … that has been claimed to exist but never proven to exist”; cryptozoologist George M. Eberhart has broken the creatures down into 10 categories, including “Seemingly paranormal or supernatural entities with some animal-like characteristics,” “Survivals of species known only from the fossil record into modern times,” and “Animals not known from the fossil record nor related to any known species.” Below are just a few of the many cryptids around the world that you should know, adapted from an episode of The List Show on YouTube.
1. The Mongolian Death Worm
Also known as the Olgoï-Khorkhoï, which translates to something like “large intestine worm,” this giant, red, poison-spitting creature lives in the sands of the Gobi Desert, according to legend. Based on a description taken down by Roy Chapman Andrews—the explorer who may have indirectly inspired Indiana Jones, and who was skeptical of this creature’s existence—it lives up to that name: In his 1926 book On the Trail of Ancient Man, Chapman wrote that the Mongolian Prime Minister had described the beast as “shaped like a sausage about two feet long, has no head nor legs and is so poisonous that merely to touch it means instant death.”
The Olgoï-Khorkhoï is said to be active during the months of June and July, and reportedly, you don’t even need to touch it to be taken down by the Death worm—it can kill by spitting its toxic, corrosive venom at you, or by hitting you with a bolt of electricity.
No one has ever photographed the creature, and most reports seem to be of the “I have a friend of a friend who saw it!” variety. But many believe that it’s real, and continue to search for it to this day.
North America’s Bigfoot, a.k.a. Sasquatch, is a bipedal ape-like creature most closely associated with the Pacific Northwest. Plenty of people claim to have seen Bigfoot or captured evidence of the creature, from video footage to casts of huge footprints, and Sasquatch is a part of many of the traditions of Indigenous people. There’s even one village in British Columbia where members of the Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation live alongside Sasquatch, which they call ba'gwis. They’re just a part of life.
Across the Pacific is the Yeti, a creature native to Asia that first appeared in folk tales told by the Sherpa people. The yeti and the abominable snowman are actually one and the same: The name Abominable Snowman came from a translation error that appeared in a newspaper in 1921.
Some believe that the Yeti and Sasquatch are actually a species of animal that went extinct hundreds of thousands of years ago—Gigantopithecus, a polar bear-sized ape native to southern Asia. But genetic analysis of hair hasn’t yet turned up evidence of either animal. Analysis of supposed Yeti fur, for example, revealed that the sample wasn’t from an ape but from a Himalyian bear.
4. and 5. Alamasty and Amomongo
There are plenty of Apemen and other hairy humanoid cryptids beyond Yeti and Sasquatch. Among the apemen from around the world is the Alamasty, which apparently shares some characteristics of Neanderthals and roams Central Asia, and the Amomongo, an apeman that hails from the Philippines and apparently likes to disembowel goats with its long fingernails.
6. Am Fear Liath Mòr
Also known as “The Big Gray Man,” this creature is said to inhabit the summit of Ben Macdui, the second-highest mountain in Scotland. Supposedly you can hear its disembodied footsteps in the gravel on the mountain, and when the fog thins, you’ll see a hairy humanoid three times taller than a man.
7. and 8. Yowies and Habagon
Yowies, which live in the Australian Outback, originated in Indigenous Australian tales. These creatures are said to be extremely hairy and between 7 and 12 feet tall. They’ve been described both as Australia’s version of Bigfoot and “a spirit that roams over the earth at night.”
There’s also the Hibagon, which lives in the mountains around Hiroshima in Japan. And there are many others. Experts say these apemen legends occurred independently across cultures. As Benjamin Radford, deputy editor of Skeptical Inquirer magazine, told Live Science, “The idea of a wild, man-like 'other' creature co-existing with us but just beyond our understanding is heavily rooted in mythology.”
9. The Honey Island Swamp Monster
The Honey Island Swamp Monster is a 7-foot-tall, 400-pound, stinky gray-haired beast first spotted by two hunters in Louisiana’s Honey Island Swamp in 1963. Casts of its footprints have shown it to have four toes—one off to the side and three thin, webbed toes on the front of the foot. Some say it’s the product of mating between escaped circus chimpanzees and alligators.
10. The Loch Ness Monster
Sightings of a beast in the area of Loch Ness go back 1500 years, but the modern obsession began in 1933, after a new road was built that offered a better view of the loch. The most famous photo of Nessie, dubbed “The Surgeon’s Photo,” was taken the year after that. And what’s interesting about that photo is that, according to some, it was an elaborate attempt at revenge.
In 1933, The Daily Mail had sent Marmaduke Wetherell to Loch Ness to find the creature. Wetherell discovered some four-toed footprints near the water, took casts of the prints, and sent them off to a museum for analysis. And, of course, he wrote about them. But it all blew up in his face when the museum revealed that the prints didn’t belong to Nessie but to … a hippo. Someone, possibly Wetherell himself, had likely used the foot of some kind of stand to put the prints in the mud. The Daily Mail, which had sent Wetherell to find proof of the monster, decided to attack and humiliate him.
Wetherell apparently didn’t appreciate that treatment: He and his stepson used a wood plastic composite and toy submarine to create their version of the Loch Ness monster, then took it to the lake and photographed it. The film wound up in the hands of a doctor, who developed it and sent the photo to The Daily Mail, which published it. But when the photo started generating a ton of publicity, the hoaxers apparently decided not to reveal what they’d done.
Of course, not everyone believes this story is true, not the least because it didn’t come to light for decades. In the world of cryptids, nothing is simple.
11. and 12. Tahoe Tessie and Ogopogo
Nessie isn’t the only aquatic cryptid out there. One is Tahoe Tessie, which supposedly lives in California and Nevada’s Lake Tahoe. Another is Ogopogo, which lives in Okanagan Lake in British Columbia. This creature appears in Syilxand Secwepemc tales as the N’ha-a-itk, an evil entity that required natives to make a sacrifice to cross the lake. White people reportedly started seeing the creature in the 1870s.
The name Ogopogo is thought to derive from a popular mid-'20s nonsense song that included the lyrics:
“His mother was an earwig;
His father was a whale;
I’m going to put a little bit of salt on his tail
I want to find the Ogo pogo.”
Ogopogo caught on, and the original native name for the creature was wiped out.
For what it’s worth, Dr. Charles Goldman, an expert on inland aquatic systems, believes that sightings of lake monsters like Nessie, Tessie, and Ogopogo are actually mirages caused by temperature changes in the deep, cold lakes. Another possible explanation is the very big fish, like sturgeons, that live in those bodies of water.
Congo’s Mokele-mbembe is a different water monster altogether. This 35-foot-long herbivore lives in rivers and is said to resemble a sauropod dinosaur, down to its long tail and neck. Tales about a mysterious giant animal in the area date back to the 1700s, but the creature first popped up in modern literature in the 1909 book Beasts and Men. There have been a number of searches over the years, including an expedition funded on Kickstarter, but the Mokele-mbembe—a name that means “one who stops the flow of rivers”—still hasn’t been found.
14. The Dobhar-chú
The Dobhar-chú is an Otter-like Irish cryptid that’s said to be half-fish, half-hound. The aggressive 7-foot-long creatures supposedly live in lakes around Ireland and are also known as “Irish Crocodiles.” Sightings date back to the late 1600s, and there’s even a depiction of a Dobhar-chu on the gravestone of a woman who is said to have been killed by one of the creatures in 1722.
15. The Bunyip
According to Indigenous Australian folklore, the Bunyip is a creature found in lakes and swamps in Australia that is fond of eating people, especially women and kids. Descriptions of the bunyip are all over the place, but many describe it as looking something like a seal. Also, it supposedly lays its eggs in platypus nests.
16. The Loveland Frogman
The Loveland Frogman is exactly what it sounds like: a humanoid frog. The creature was first spotted swimming in Ohio’s Little Miami River in 1955. Then, in March 1972, it was seen by Loveland, Ohio, police officers on two separate occasions. The first officer described a 3- to 4-foot-tall creature that weighed 60 pounds with leathery skin and a face like a frog or lizard. The second officer even shot the creature.
In 2016, the Loveland Frogman was supposedly spotted again by two people playing Pokemon Go. One of them emailed a video of the creature to the local news, saying, quote: “We saw a huge frog near the water. Not in the game (Pokemon Go), this was an actual giant frog. I took a couple of pictures and a video ’cause I’d never seen one that big. Then the thing stood up and walked on its hind legs.” He added, “I swear on my grandmother's grave that this is the truth.”
After that article came out, however, the second officer from the 1972 sighting came forward and called it a hoax, claiming that the creature he’d spotted and shot was an iguana that had been missing its tail. A blogger was also able to basically duplicate what the Pokemon Go player had captured in his video using a small statue of a frog with light-up eyes. But even if the Loveland Frogman isn’t real, these totally awesome “I Saw the Loveland Frogman” T-shirts are.
17. and 18. The Lake Worth Monster and the Pope-Lick Monster
You might heard about Maryland's Goatman, but he's not the only goat-based cryptid. Texas’s Lake Worth Monster is also a goatman that is apparently 7 feet tall and 350 pounds. And the Pope-Lick Monster is a half-goat, half-man creature that lives under a railroad trestle bridge in Louisville, Kentucky. It reportedly uses hypnosis to lure people out onto the bridge and to their deaths.
Chupacabra is Spanish for goat sucker. This creature, which first appeared in Puerto Rico in the 1990s, has creepy red eyes, stands on two legs, is 4 to 5 feet tall, has spikes on its back and very long claws on its hands—and it likes to drain livestock of their blood. The legend spread all over Latin America, into the United States, and into legend. But DNA analysis suggests that many so-called chupacabras are actually canines with mange.
Cajun legend has it that the swamps and bayous of Louisiana are haunted by the Rougarou, a werewolf-like creature that apparently hunts two types of prey: Catholics who don’t observe Lent and naughty kids. Unlike werewolf legends, however, you don’t need to be bitten by a Rougarou to become a Rougarou. According to Jonathan Foret, executive director of South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center, “One of the ways that you could become a Rougarou is if you did not observe Lent for seven years in a row.” You can also become a Rougarou if someone curses you. But if you’re a bad kid, make no mistake: Rougarou wants to eat you! To protect yourself from the Rougarou, you need to place 13 objects, like pennies or rocks, on your threshold or windowsill. It supposedly works because Rougarou can only count to 12.
21. The Ahool
The Ahool is a giant bat-like creature spotted by a scientist in the jungles of Java in Indonesia in 1925. It’s named after its call and is said to be twice as large as the large flying fox bat, which, with a wingspan of 5 feet is among the largest bats in the world. Some have said the creature might be a pterosaur; others believe it could be an owl.
22. The Beast of Exmoor
The Beast of Exmoor prowls the fields near Somerset and Devon in the UK and has been spotted numerous times since the 1970s. This is not the kind of cat you’d want to cuddle up with: The killings of hundreds of sheep have been pinned on the creature, which is said to be up to 6.5 feet long.
One farmer whose sheep was killed by the beast said his sheep’s face and neck were stripped clean off. The corpse had also been sucked dry. The killing was apparently so quick that the sheep didn’t even struggle, and so quiet that none of the other animals near it were disturbed. Some believe the creature is a big cat like a puma that either escaped or was released from a private owner after it became illegal to own big cats in the 1970s. But given that big cats like these only live for around 15 years, and that sightings persist to this day, it seems like the mystery of the Beast of Exmoor remains unsolved.