The wilderness areas of the world are full of wonderful creatures, but some people believe that these vast deserts, rugged mountains, and dense forests hold a lot more than that. They believe that these untamed areas are home to creatures known as cryptids. A cryptid is an animal whose existence is disputed or unsubstantiated. Creatures not yet discovered by scientists. While the scientific community remains skeptical, cryptozoologists strive to prove the existence of these mysterious creatures by mounting expeditions and looking for evidence.
Bigfoot, also known as the Sasquatch, is probably the world's best-known cryptid. This large, hairy, ape-like creature has been spotted throughout North America, but the Pacific Northwest, in particular, is a hot spot for sightings. Numerous videos and photographs of this cryptid are available, but some have been proven to be hoaxes and others may be misidentifications of other animals. Some believe that people may be misidentifying bears or other wildlife, or that the sightings are a result of escaped zoo animals roaming the countryside.
Like Bigfoot, the Yeti is a large, bipedal, ape-like creature. Usually described as white or grey, this cryptid supposedly haunts the harsh, snowy peaks of the Himalayas, particularly in Tibet. Sightings of the Yeti are much rarer than those of Bigfoot due to the remote regions it lives in, but many cryptozoologists believe they are related. Both may also be related to European tales of animal-like wild men, which some researchers believe may stem from ancient encounters between humans and Neanderthals or other early hominids.
This bizarre cryptid was first sighted in Puerto Rico in the 1990s, but since then it has been seen throughout North and South America. Descriptions vary, but most agree that it has a ridge of large, sharp spines down its back and pointy, menacing teeth. It is named for its favorite method of feeding, which is to drink the blood of goats and other livestock.
Affectionately referred to as Nessie by locals, this mysterious creature shot to fame when a photo was taken of it swimming through the cold waters of Scotland's Loch Ness in the 1930s. Although that photo was later admitted to being a hoax, this lake monster has captured the imaginations of people around the world, and many other sightings have been reported. Theories range from a hidden colony of plesiosaurs that escaped extinction to a strange snake or eel that lives deep within the loch and rarely surfaces.
Legends of the Jersey Devil stem back to the early 18th century before the United States became a country. The story goes that Mother Leeds, a strange woman who lived in the eerie Pine Barrens of what is now New Jersey, gave birth to her 13th child and discovered it was deformed. As legend has it, that child was cursed to become what people now call the Jersey Devil. Most people describe it as a large, bipedal, horse-like creature with large, leathery wings and a long, forked tail.
Stories of massive, mysterious birds have been a part of American history for as long as anyone can remember. Though the name comes from Native American lore, the modern cryptid is not believed to possess the powers of the Native thunderbirds. The first documented sighting was featured in an 1890 Arizona newspaper report that described two ranchers who found a massive bird. Another notable series of sightings occurred in Illinois in the 1940s. Skeptics believe people may be overestimating the size of larger-than-normal birds.
The Gobi Desert is one of the most inhospitable landscapes on Earth, and the Mongolian people who live there have learned to be strong and fearless to deal with it. However, even they speak in hushed tones of the Mongolian Death Worm, which is so poisonous that a slight touch can kill a full-grown man. These worms also are rumored to be able to spit poison and send out deadly electrical shocks to kill their foes or prey. They are described as two to five feet long and bright red, which makes some skeptics believe that people are really seeing the Tartar sand boa, a large red snake that inhabits the region.
The Tasmanian tiger is slightly different than most cryptids because it is known to have once existed. More properly known as the thylacine, it was a large, carnivorous marsupial that got its nickname from its distinctive stripes. There were once large populations on the rugged, isolated island of Tasmania in Australia, but British settlers hunted it to extinction. The last known living specimen was captured in the 1930s, but many people believe that there are still small populations hiding in the bush and avoiding contact with humans.
No one can quite decide whether the Mothman is an alien, a cryptid or a top-secret military experiment, but it has been seen by more than 100 people between 1966 and 1967. These sightings were often linked with UFO sightings and with major disasters, including a fatal bridge collapse that killed 46 people. The Mothman is described as a human-like being with large wings. Some people also describe glowing red eyes and other unique features. Sporadic sightings continue to this day, and the Mothman is celebrated every year during a festival in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, which is the location of the original sightings.
The Beast of Exmoor is the most famous version of a cryptid seen throughout the British Isles. People from all over the United Kingdom and Ireland report seeing large, lion-like cats stalking through the moors and wooded areas, even though no big cats are native to the area. Many of these sightings have occurred in Exmoor National Park, which has given this cryptid its name. Some people believe they are escaped zoo animals or unusually large feral house cats. The sightings began in earnest during the 1970s when exotic animal ownership laws were less stringent, lending credence to the escaped exotic animal theory.