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A Beginner's Guide to Cryptids
Bigfoots, Bunyips, and Hodags 👣
Cryptozoology — a term coined in the 1950s by French zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans — is the study of hidden or unknown animals not recognized in standard zoology. From legendary creatures like Bigfoot and Nessie to lesser-known cryptids like Bunyips and Dogmen, these mysterious beasts continue to fascinate us.
This week’s POP ‘N’ PIZZA serves as a field guide to cryptids, providing you, dear reader, with the essential information needed to identify and survive these mystifying monsters.
1. Bigfoot: Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch, is a cryptid entrenched in the lore of North American wilderness regions, particularly the Pacific Northwest. This elusive beast is often described as a towering bipedal entity, reaching heights of 7 to 10 feet and sporting dark, matted hair that covers its massive frame. Witness accounts frequently mention its human-like gait and the pungent, distinct odor it emits. Alleged evidence includes a trove of footprint casts, some measuring up to 24 inches long. Despite vigorous research efforts, scientific consensus on the existence of Sasquatch remains absent, with skeptics attributing sightings to misidentified animals or hoaxes.
2. The Bunyip: The Bunyip is a cryptid from Australian Aboriginal mythology and folklore. It is described as a large, water-dwelling creature with tusks, flippers, and, sometimes, a bird-like head. The Bunyip is said to inhabit swamps, billabongs, and other water bodies across Australia, and its presence is often associated with bizarre or eerie sounds at night.
3. Chupacabra: Originating from Latin American folklore, this cryptid's name is derived from the Spanish words chupar ("to suck") and cabra ("goat"). Known for preying on livestock, the "goat-sucker" is often depicted as a reptilian kangaroo with huge red eyes. Reports of attacks surfaced in Puerto Rico during the mid-1990s, followed by widespread sightings across Latin America and parts of the United States. Investigations suggest many of these incidents can be attributed to known predators, diseases, or natural scavenging behavior. Despite this, the Chupacabra remains a subject of fascination within the realm of cryptozoology.
4. Dover Demon: The Dover Demon was reportedly sighted in Dover, Massachusetts, over two days in 1977. Descriptions typically depict it as a small, humanoid creature, around 3 to 4 feet tall, with a hairless, elongated head and glowing orange eyes. Witnesses claimed it had long, spindly fingers and a body resembling that of a malnourished ape.
5. Flatwoods Monster: Also known as the Braxton County Monster or the Green Monster, the Flatwoods Monster is associated with a meteor-like object crashing in Flatwoods, West Virginia, on September 12, 1952. Described as a tall humanoid figure with a dark, spade-shaped head and glowing red eyes, the creature reportedly has a metallic appearance and emits a pungent, sulfur-like odor (gnarly).
6. Hodag: The Hodag is said to inhabit the forests of Rhinelander, Wisconsin. It was first reported in the late 19th century by a local man named Eugene Shepard. Descriptions of the Hodag vary, but it is often depicted as having a reptilian appearance with horns on its head, sharp fangs, and a spiky back. Shepard claimed to have captured and displayed a Hodag specimen but later admitted to creating the creature from a combination of animal parts. Despite its origins as a hoax, the Hodag has become a part of local folklore and is celebrated with an annual festival in Rhinelander.
7. Hopkinsville Goblins: The Kelly-Hopkinsville Encounter was a reported UFO-related event in 1955 near Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Witnesses encountered small, humanoid creatures with large heads, glowing eyes, big ol’ ears, and talon-like hands. These beings - called goblins by the locals - were said to have emerged from a spaceship and engaged in a brief but intense encounter with the witnesses, who described defending themselves from the creatures throughout the night. Law enforcement officers and military personnel investigated the incident but found no conclusive evidence of extraterrestrial activity.
8. Jersey Devil: The Jersey Devil has been a prominent part of New Jersey folklore for centuries. Described as a creature with the body of a kangaroo, a horse's head, bat-like wings, and cloven hooves, the Jersey Devil is said to haunt the Pine Barrens region of southern New Jersey. The legend dates back to the early 18th century when it was believed to be the cursed offspring of a woman named Mother Leeds. The creature is said to emit blood-curdling screams and leave behind hoofprints, which is pretty sweet when you think about it.
9. Kraken: The Kraken is a legendary sea monster often depicted in Scandinavian folklore and maritime tales. Described as a massive cephalopod-like creature, the Kraken is said to dwell in the deep ocean, particularly around the coasts of Norway and Greenland. It is commonly portrayed as having enormous tentacles that it uses to drag ships and sailors into the depths. While the Kraken's existence remains unverified, its depiction has influenced popular culture and maritime lore for centuries, and its image continues to captivate the imagination of those intrigued by the mysteries of the sea.
10. Lizard Man: The Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp, also known as the Lizard Man of Lee County, is a cryptid that has been reported in the state of South Carolina, particularly in the vicinity of the Scape Ore Swamp near Bishopville. The creature is described as a humanoid reptilian, likened to a giant lizard or alligator, with three fingers, red eyes, and an aversion to bright light.
11. Loch Ness Monster: Often referred to as "Nessie," this cryptid hails from Loch Ness, a large freshwater lake in the Scottish Highlands. Descriptions typically depict Nessie as a long-necked aquatic creature resembling a plesiosaur or an enormous unknown marine animal. Reports of sightings date back to the early 20th century, with occasional photographs and sonar readings claiming to provide evidence of its existence. The phenomenon has spurred numerous investigations, scientific studies, and expeditions to verify the creature's presence, but no concrete evidence has been found... yet.
12. Loveland Frog: Sighted near Loveland, Ohio, the Loveland Frog is depicted as a bipedal amphibian-like being, around 3 to 4 feet tall, with leathery skin and webbed hands and feet. The Loveland Frog was first spotted in 1955 by a businessman who claimed to have seen three frog-like creatures near a local bridge. Subsequent sightings have been reported over the years, with witnesses describing encounters along roadways and near water sources. Some reports suggest the creatures carry devices or wands emitting sparks (hell yeah!).
13. Michigan Dogman: This cryptid is often sighted in - you guessed it - various parts of Michigan. Descriptions of the creature vary, but it is commonly depicted as a canine-like entity with a wolf-like or dog-like head and an upright, human-like body. The beast is said to be around 7 feet tall, with powerful legs and a growl that resembles a mix between a dog and a human. Reports of the Michigan Dogman date back to the late 19th century, and it gained wider attention in 1987 when a local radio DJ aired a song about the creature.
14. Mokele-mbembe: This cryptid is rumored to inhabit the dense jungles and remote swamplands of the Congo Basin in Central Africa. its name originates from the Lingala language and translates to "one who stops the flow of rivers." Described as a large, long-necked creature resembling a sauropod dinosaur, Mokele-mbembe has captured the imagination of cryptozoologists and adventurers for decades. Expeditions to find Mokele-mbembe have yielded limited concrete evidence, amounting to anecdotal accounts, blurred photographs, and vague footprints.
15. Mongolian Death Worm: The Mongolian Death Worm is a cryptid purported to inhabit the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. Descriptions of the creature vary, but it is generally described as a thick, reddish worm-like organism measuring several feet in length. It is said to possess lethal venom and can kill at a distance by emitting an electric shock or spewing corrosive acid (rad!)
16. Mothman: The Mothman first appeared in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, in the late 1960s. Described as a tall, winged creature with large red eyes, the Mothman is said to possess an unsettling presence and an ability to take flight. The legend gained widespread attention in 1966 and 1967 when multiple residents reported seeing the creature near an abandoned munitions factory. Feelings of dread and impending disaster often accompanied these encounters. The Mothman phenomenon reached a tragic climax with the collapse of the Silver Bridge in December 1967, a catastrophe that claimed the lives of 46 people.
17. Ozark Howler: The Ozark Howler is said to inhabit the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. It's described as a large, dark, and menacing creature with features reminiscent of a large cat or a bear, but it is also known for its distinctive vocalizations, which are said to be eerie and haunting. Reports and stories about the Ozark Howler date back to the 19th century, and it has become a part of local folklore and legends.
18. Squonk: Supposedly found in the hemlock forests of northern Pennsylvania, the Squonk is a melancholic and reclusive creature with a unique ability: when captured or cornered, it is said to dissolve into a pool of tears and bubbles (same). Its appearance is both bizarre and pitiable, with loose, wrinkled, and ill-fitting skin that appears to be covered in warts or moles. The legend of the Squonk has inspired numerous stories, poems, and artworks, making it a curious and enduring figure in cryptozoology and regional folklore.
19. Thunderbird: Described as an enormous bird able to create thunder and lightning by flapping its wings, the Thunderbird is often depicted as having a wingspan of up to 20 feet and possessing powerful, awe-inspiring qualities. While accounts and descriptions vary among different tribes, the Thunderbird is revered as a supernatural being with the ability to bring storms and rain. It has also become a subject of interest in cryptozoology and speculative discussions about the potential existence of such a creature. Despite a lack of concrete evidence supporting the Thunderbird’s presence continues to be a source of both wonder and skepticism.
20. Yeti: The Yeti, known as the Abominable Snowman, roams the rugged and snow-clad landscapes of the Himalayas. This elusive cryptid is described as a towering, ape-like being - its stark white fur blending seamlessly with the wintry terrain it calls home. Emerging from centuries of Himalayan folklore, the Yeti has captivated imaginations worldwide, igniting passionate quests to trace its footsteps and uncover the truth behind its existence.
The Hopkinsville Goblins are the subject of the streaming series HELLIER.
Mokele-mbembe appears in BABY: THE SECRET OF THE LOST LEGEND.
The Mothman appears in THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES.
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