THERE ARE CREATURES that lurk out there in the dark, that haunt the isolated forests of the world, that hide in the icy depths of the deepest lakes. They appear unexpectedly and inexplicably, then vanish just as mysteriously, usually leaving witnesses dumbfounded, frightened and, unfortunately in most cases, without a shred of evidence. Yet the eyewitness stories of these creatures persist, haunting the darkness as well as our imaginations. Here, for your consideration (and in no particular order) are the top 10 most mysterious, unexplained creatures of all time. Some are more likely to really exist than others, but we’ll leave that judgment up to you.
1. Bigfoot / Sasquatch / Yeti
These hairy apemen are probably the most consistently witnessed unknown creatures in the world. Whether they are called Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Yeti, Skunk Ape or Yowie, they have been seen in isolated woodlands and mountain areas in virtually every corner of the globe. And the descriptions – from the North American northwest to Florida to Australia – are remarkably consistent:
taller than an average man (seven to eight feet)
covered with long brown or auburn hair (or white hair in the case of the Yeti)
a strong, repugnant odor
large feet, as evidenced by castings of footprints
an aversion to man
a piercing, eerie howl
The vast number of sightings, many by highly reliable witnesses, gives Bigfoot, in my estimation, the best likelihood of being a real creature as yet unknown to science. But what is it? A missing link? Some ancient relative of humans that somehow has survived in the wilderness? An unknown species of ape?
We may find out someday soon. Sightings seem to be on the increase as mankind encroaches deeper and deeper on the wilderness. And technology may aid in the search. The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization recently announced its intention to place motion-triggered digital webcams in various areas of US forest where the hairy beast has been seen. This 24-hour surveillance with potentially thousands of computer-based witnesses looking on will dramatically increase the chances of obtaining credible evidence.
For the diehard skeptic, nothing less than a captured specimen will do – or at least some other tangible evidence. And one that could qualify has recently emerged: an impression of Bigfoot’s butt. No kidding. Researchers in the American northwest have found what appears to be the impression in the ground of where a large hairy primate has sat. Hey, he’s got to rest those big feet sometime.
2. Loch Ness Monster (and other Lake monsters)
Despite excellent expeditions with sophisticated electronic equipment, the lake monsters of the world continue to elude scientists. Yet spontaneous sightings by good witnesses, although rare, persist.
The Loch Ness monster, or Nessie, is undoubtedly the most well-known of these aquatic mysteries. But other deep, cold lakes around the world have their own legendary beasts: Chessie in Chesapeake Bay, Storsie in Sweden’s Lake StorsjÃ¶n, Selma in Norway’s Lake Seljordsvatnet and “Champ” in New York’s Lake Champlain among others.
Descriptions of this creature, too, are amazingly similar:
a large creature with a long neck
a horse-like head
a humped back
Most sightings report the humps protruding from the surface of the water (which skeptics dismiss as being almost anything, from schools of fish to floating logs), but occasionally a lucky witness will see the creature stretch its neck high above the water and look around a bit before submerging.
Photo and video evidence is rare. And although some of the photos are tantalizing (most notably the famous “flipper” photo taken by the Rines expedition in 1975), most such “proof” is fuzzy or inconclusive at best.
If the creature does exist, many researchers suspect that it could be a kind of plesiosaur – an animal from the age of the dinosaurs that is thought to have become extinct more than 66 million years ago. Could a lineage of these incredible creatures possibly have survived?
Even though some sightings date back to the 1970s, El Chupacabra – “the goat sucker” – is primarily a phenomenon of the 1990s, and its fame has largely been spread by the Internet. The sightings started in earnest in 1995 with reports coming out of Puerto Rico of a strange creature that was killing farmers’ livestock – chickens, ducks, turkeys, rabbits and, of course, goats – sometimes hundreds of animals in one evening. The farmers, who were familiar with the killing practices of wild dogs and other predators, claimed that the methods of this unknown beast were different. It didn’t try to eat the animals it killed, for example; nor did it drag them away to be devoured elsewhere. Instead, the creature killed by draining its victims of blood, usually through small incisions.
Then came the bizarre eyewitness descriptions:
about the size of a chimpanzee
hops about like a kangaroo
large glowing red eyes
grayish skin and hairy arms
long snake-like tongue
quills running along its spine that seem to open and close like a fan
some believe it may even have wings
Toward the end of the ’90s, the sightings of Chupacabra began to spread. The creature was blamed for animal killings in Mexico, southern Texas and several South American countries. In May and June of 2000, a rash of incidents took place in Chile, according to certain newspapers there. In fact, some of the most incredible claims yet came out of those sightings: that at least one of the creatures was caught alive by local authorities, then handed over to official agencies of the US government.
What is it? Theories abound, including: an unknown but natural species of predator; misidentified known predators; the result of genetic experimentation; an alien. Most serious researchers consider Chupacabra merely folklore, perpetuated by over-enthusiastic locals immersed in superstition or a penchant for telling tall, exaggerated tales.
Yet you can be sure that we haven’t seen or heard the last of Chupacabra.
4. The Jersey Devil
There is a terrifying creature, they say, that haunts the dense pine barrens of New Jersey, and its frightening appearance earned it the name of The Jersey Devil. The legend of the Jersey Devil dates back to about the mid-1700s when it was considered an omen of disaster or war, but multiple sightings did not begin until the early 1900s. Some researchers claim that more than 2,000 witnesses have reported seeing the creature over the centuries. Although rare, sightings continue up to the present day.
Descriptions vary, but these are the most commonly cited attributes:
about three-and-a-half feet high
a head like a collie dog and a face like a horse
a long neck
wings about two feet long
back legs like those of a crane
walks on its back legs and holds up two short front legs with paws on them
It’s interesting to note the similarities to Chupacabra!
Unexplained animal deaths and mutilations have been blamed on The Jersey Devil. Dozens of eyewitnesses claim to have been frightened out of their wits by it. What could this creature possibly be? The theories are similar to those cited for Chupacabra, but something scary definitely seems to be out there in the New Jersey woods.
For about 13 months beginning in November, 1966, a series of bizarre sightings took place around the area of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Aside from a spate of UFO reports and claimed poltergeist activity, several witnesses came forward with descriptions of an astonishing creature that may have been the focal point of all the weird goings-on. As detailed in John Keel’s classic book, The Mothman Prophecies, hundreds of witnesses allegedly saw a large, winged humanoid being.
Here is how they described it:
approximately seven feet tall
a wingspan over 10 feet wide
gray, scaly skin
large, red, glowing and hypnotic eyes
able to take off straight up in flight, traveling up to 100 miles an hour
liked to mutilate or eat large dogs
screeched or squealed like a rodent or electric motor
caused radio and television interference
had some mind control powers.
Dubbed Mothman by a local newspaperman, the creature seemed to have a peculiar affect on those with whom it came into contact: they began to “channel” information from what Keel called “ultra-terrestrial” entities. Keel himself was affected in this way, receiving “prophecies” from some unknown origin that were, more often than not, oddly less than accurate.
6. Elves and Fairies
There aren’t many people who take seriously the existence of elves and fairies in today’s society. Yet there are people who will swear on the heads of their grandchildren that they have seen them with their own eyes – just as plainly as others have seen ghosts, Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster.
The stories of elusive little people are as ancient as civilization itself and can be found in virtually every culture on Earth. Most familiar to us are the legends of elves, dwarfs, leprechauns and trolls from Europe and Scandinavia. They have been the subject of dozens of children’s fairy tales, books, myths and inebriated tales. William Shakespeare made them central characters in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Generally, fairies were described as tiny ephemeral beings with wings who resided in forests.
Elves, dwarfs and leprechauns were likewise residents of the forest. Unlike fairies, however, they were quite human in appearance – except for their diminutive size. They were often pictured as having their own miniature civilization, hidden away from the human world.
On a summer night in 1919, 13-year-old Harry Anderson claimed to have seen a column of 20 little men marching in single file, made visible by the bright moonlight. He noted they were dressed in leather knee pants with suspenders. The men were shirtless, bald and had pale white skin. They ignored young Harry as they passed, mumbling something unintelligible all the while.
In Stowmarket, England in 1842, a man claimed this encounter with “faries” when walking through a meadow on his journey home: “There might be a dozen of them, the biggest about three feet high, and small ones like dolls. They were moving around hand in hand in a ring; no noise came from them. They seemed light and shadowy, not like solid bodies. I… could see them as plain as I do you. I ran home and called three women to come back with me and see them. But when we got to the place, they were all gone. I was quite sober at the time.”
Elves and fairies were considered quite real in past cultures, and were a familiar part of their rich folklore. In today’s technological society, perhaps, we’ve simply replaced them in our imaginations with little gray aliens.
7. The Dover Demon
Dover, Massachusetts was the location of the sighting of a bizarre creature for a few days beginning on April 21, 1977. Although the creature, which became known as “the Dover Demon,” was only seen by a few people in this short period of time, it is considered one of the most mysterious creatures of modern times.
The first sighting was made by 17-year-old Bill Bartlett as he and three friends were driving north near the small New England town at around 10:30 at night. Through the darkness, Bartlett claimed to have seen an unusual creature creeping along a low stone wall on the side of the road – something he had never seen before and could not identify. The other boys did not see it, but it was obvious to them that Bartlett was shaken by the experience. When he arrived home, he told his father about his experience and sketched a drawing of the creature.
Just a few hours after Bartlett’s sighting, at 12:30 a.m., John Baxter swore that he saw the same creature while walking home from his girlfriend’s house. The 15-year-old boy saw it with its arms wrapped around the trunk of a tree, and his description of the thing matched Bartlett’s exactly.
The final sighting was reported the next day by another 15-year-old, Abby Brabham, a friend of one of Bill Bartlett’s friends, who said it appeared briefly in the car’s headlights while she and her friend were driving. Again, the description was consistent. This is the creature they allegedly saw:
about four feet tall on two legs
hairless body with rough-textured skin
long, spindly peach-colored limbs
a large watermelon-shaped head, nearly as big as its body large glowing orange eyes.
Subsequent investigations into this unusual case turned up no hard evidence for the reality of the creature, but neither was there evidence of a hoax nor a motive for perpetrating one. Skeptics suggested that what the teenagers saw was a young moose, while UFOlogists who looked into the case wondered if there was an extraterrestrial connection.
8. The Loveland Lizard
This remarkable creature has earned its place in the annals of the unknown primarily because of the credibility of the involved witnesses: two police officers on two separate occasions.
The scene is the early hours of March 3, 1972. A police officer is cruising on Riverside Ave., which runs for a few blocks along the Little Miami River in Loveland, Ohio. On the side of the road he sees what he at first thinks is a dog lying there. He slows his vehicle on the icy road to avoid hitting the animal should it get up and run in front of him. He nears the animal and stops his patrol car, at which point the creature quickly stands on two legs to a crouching position. Illuminating the creature with his headlights, the officer can now clearly see that it is not a dog at all, but something he cannot explain:
three to four feet tall
50 to 75 pounds
possibly wet, matted hair on its body that made it look textured possibly a short tail
a head and face like a frog or lizard
Whatever this creature was, it looked at the officer briefly, then leapt over the road’s guard rail toward the river.
The officer reported the odd sighting to the police dispatcher, then later returned to the scene of the incident with another officer. All they found was evidence that something had scraped the hillside as it made its way down to the river.
The creature may have been completely forgotten had not a second police officer seen it again two weeks later. The second officer also at first thought the thing lying in the middle of the road was a dog or roadkill. When he got out of his car to haul it to the side of the road, it got up, climbed over the guard rail this time, all the while keeping its eyes on the officer, and disappeared toward the river. His description of the creature pointed out the same frog-like characteristics. A subsequent investigation uncovered only one other possible sighting around the same time; a farmer claimed to have seen some kind of large, lizard-like creature. It thereafter became known as the Loveland Lizard or Loveland Frog.
What was it? Good question. If is was a frog or similar amphibian, it’s the largest one ever recorded – and the only one known to get up and walk away on its hind legs.
9. Living Dinosaurs
We were all awestruck by the incredibly realistic digital effects of the Jurassic Park movies, and tantalized by the possibility that cloning of long-extinct dinosaurs might one day be possible.
But what if dinosaurs are still alive? What if some dinosaurs have somehow survived extinction to coexist with us today? Some people believe they actually might have. Living dinosaurs!
For over 200 years, rare but fascinating reports have filtered out of the dense isolated rain forests of Africa and South America that native tribes – some of which live very much as they have for thousands of years – were familiar with large creatures that can only be described as resembling sauropods, like the apatosaurus.
The tribes had names for them, such as jago-nini (“giant diver”), dingonek, ol-umaina, and chipekwe. In 1913, Captain Freiheer von Stein zu Lausnitz, a German explorer, was told by Pygmies of a fearsome creature they called mok’ele-mbembe (“stopper of rivers”). This is the description of mok’ele-mbembe provided by the natives:
smooth brownish gray skin
approximately the size of an elephant; at least that of a hippopotamus; possibly about 30 feet long
a long, flexible neck
a vegetarian diet, but would kill humans if they came too close
During an expedition to search for mok’ele-mbembe in 1980, cryptozoologist Roy Mackel and herpetologist James Powell allegedly showed pictures of local animals to the natives, all of which they correctly identified. When they showed them an illustration of a large sauropod, they identified it as mok’ele-mbembe.
Aside from the testimony of these tribespeople (which some skeptics have written off as making fools of the white man), the evidence for living dinosaurs is scant. Supposedly, a few explorers have found extraordinarily large footprints (as large as a Frisbee), and in 1992, a Japanese expedition is said to have about 15 seconds of film footage taken from an airplane that shows some large shape moving in water, leaving a V-shaped wake. Unfortunately, it could not be identified.
Recent expeditions in search of mok’ele-mbembe have taken place. They explored the Likoula region of the Congo for four weeks with the official mission objective of a “scientific investigation and analysis of reports of a living dinosaur.” Unfortunately, again, they returned empty-handed. New expeditions will undoubtedly continue to search for living dinosaurs. The prospect of actually documenting a find is just too tempting.
10. Spring-Heeled Jack
He appeared out of the shadows of 19th century London nights, attacked his victims with dreadful scratches, then bounded away with superhuman ability before he could be apprehended.
The case of Spring-Heeled Jack, as this creature came to be known, is one of the most baffling to come out of Victorian England, and one that has never been solved or fully explained. According to most accounts of the story, the attacks began in 1837 in southwest London. Polly Adams, a pub worker, was one of three women accosted by Spring-Heeled Jack in September of that year. He allegedly tore her blouse off and scratched at her stomach with iron-like fingernails or claws.
His victims painted a bizarre portrait of the ghoul:
man-like, but with a hideous face
sharp iron-like fingernails or claws
tall, thin and powerful
the ability to spit blue flames from his mouth
wore a dark cloak over a tight-fitting white oilskin suit
some claimed he wore a helmet of some kind
the ability to jump incredible heights and distances
The attacks continued into early 1838, prompting official action by the Lord Mayor of London who declared him a public nuisance, and resulting in at least one vigilante group that systematically tried to capture the creature, all without success.
Rumors of sightings persisted into the 1850s, ’60s and ’70s. In these cases, he is said to have frightened people with his appearance, slapped army sentries, and in each case leapt away to the astonishment and frustration of those who tied to catch him. Interestingly, Spring-Heeled Jack never killed or seriously hurt anyone, except 18-year-old Lucy Scales who was reportedly blinded temporarily by the searing blue flames Jack vomited into her face.
Who or what was Spring-Heeled Jack? A clever if diabolical maniac? An alien? A demon?
One of the most fascinating aspects in the research of paranormal phenomena is how strange things can really get. Most perplexing is when different types of phenomena overlap. This is sometimes the case with the Bigfoot phenomenon. Some researchers report that there is often something peculiar about sightings of the creature – something ghostlike or alien. Sightings have been linked to UFO phenomena. A trail of Bigfoot footprints sometimes ends abruptly, as if the creature simply vanished into thin air. Such mysteries have led some researchers to speculate that what we know as Bigfoot or Sasquatch could be an interdimensional creature – a being that can move from its dimension to ours at will. That is certainly not a theory that is widely accepted by cryptozoologists, but encounters like the one related by Bill cause one to wonder. This is Bill’s story:
My friend Mike and I swore each other to secrecy about that night in 1985. We promised we would never tell anyone whathappened, but since that night, things for both of us seemed to change somehow.
Mike and I used to do what we called “all-nighters”: we’d get in the car with some munchies and soda; Mike would bring his guitar and we would drive for at least two or three hours on the back roads of Pennsylvania, out to the middle of no-man’s land. Basically, our intent was to drive until we got lost, then switch drivers and find our way home. In our part of Pennsylvania, getting lost in the sticks isn’t too hard.
That night was the last day of our sophomore year in high school, so we decided to celebrate with an all-nighter. We loaded up my car and off we went. I was driving out because it was my turn to get us lost. The early summer night was very hot and the sky was clear. Mike was playing some tunes on his guitar, and we were having a great time. I should mention at this point that we were not in the least intoxicated. Mike is diabetic, so liquor was never part of our all-nighters. After about two or two-and-a-half hours of driving, we were pretty well out in nowhere land.
And that’s when it happened.
I was at the wheel and turned down a dark road by an old broken-down farm house. Suddenly, there was a flash of light and a bang! I hit something! It was just that quick, all happening in an instant. I slammed on the brakes and Mike and I looked at each other. I uttered a few choice words and immediately opened my door to get out of the car. But Mike screamed at me, “Stay in the car! Stay in the car! Let’s get the hell outta here! What was that? Let’s go!”
Strangely, I was fairly calm, ignoring the fact that there was a bright flash (or whatever it was). I thought I hit some animal. I wanted to get out to see if there was any damage to my car. I did get out and looked around. Mike, meanwhile, was having a fit because we were not buggin’ outta there. I looked carefully. No damage to the car, nothing in the road or under the car. Yet I felt strange… like I was being watched.
And just that suddenly I was hit with an overwhelming sense of terror. I had to leave that place and leave it right away.
“Mike, we’ve got to get out of here NOW!” I said.
Mike was really starting to freak out. “What is it?” he said. “What is it?!”
“I don’t know, but we have to move – NOW!”
By this time Mike had already slid over to the driver’s side of the car and had it running. I hopped in the passenger seat. Mike turned the car around and floored it.
The White Monster
We drove for a mile or two down the road without saying one word to each another. Our eyes were focused intently out the windshield. Then we saw, crouched by the right side of the road, this “thing.” It looked like a Bigfoot… only different. It looked into our headlights, stood up and ran in front of the car, across the road and into a large grove of trees. Mike hit the brakes as we both screamed.
“What in God’s name was that?” he yelled.
“How the hell should I know,” I yelled back. “Get the hell outta here!”
Mike jammed on the accelerator and off we sped at about 80 mph. We didn’t say a word all the way home.
What Was It?
The next day we talked about the entire night before: that strange flash of light, the bump, the feeling for horror and that “thing” we saw. I can only describe it this way: When it stood, I’d say it was about 6 feet tall, ape looking but human looking at the same time. It was extremely thin and covered in scraggly white or gray hair. It had an oversized mouth with lots of teeth. And its eyes… God, its eyes looked human and frightened. I think we may have scared it as much as it scared us. I don’t know.
Mike and I didn’t talk much after that night. But he did tell me that he began to “see things” every now and then. I admitted that the same was happening to me too. We both seemed to see, for lack of better terms, “monsters”… “things” – I don’t know, just things that shouldn’t be here. I don’t know what the heck we drove through that night or what it did to us, but it definitely did something.
My friend Mike passed away last year. He died in a car accident. Another person who saw the accident said it looked like he “swerved to avoid something.”
I know this all sounds crazy, and this is the first time I’ve ever told this story. Something did happen to us that night. A vortex, a time hole, a doorway into or out of a different dimension… I don’t know. Whatever it was, both Mike and I began to see things after that night, and they’re not ghosts.
What the heck happened to us that night 18 years ago… and why has it never left us?
The Native peoples of North America told legends of a race of “little people” who lived in the woods near sandy hills and sometimes near rocks located along large bodies of water, such as the Great Lakes. Often described as “hairy-faced dwarfs” in stories, petroglyphs illustrations show them with horns on their head and traveling in a group of 5 to 7 per canoe.
How Morning Star Lost her Fish – from Stories the Iroquois Tell Their Children by Mabel Powers 1917
Native legends often talk of the little people playing pranks on people such as singing and then hiding when an inquisitive person searches for the music. It is often said that the little people love children and would take them away from bad or abusive parents or if the child was without parents and left in the woods to fend for themselves.
Other legends say the little people if seen by an adult human would beg them not to say anything of their existence and would reward those who kept their word by helping them and their family out in times of need. From tribe to tribe there are variations of what the little people’s mannerisms were like, and whether they were good or evil may be different. Many of the elders still have a belief in these beings, but younger generations tend not to believe in these stories.
One of the common beliefs is that the little people create distractions to cause mischief. They were believed to be gods by some. One North American Native tribe believed that they lived in nearby caves. The caves were never entered for fear of disturbing the little people.
The physical remains of tiny people have been reported found in various locations in the western United States, particularly Montana and Wyoming. Typically these are described as being found in caves with various details such as descriptions that they were “perfectly formed”, dwarf-size, etc. Archeologist Lawrence L. Loendorf notes that “The burials, of course, are always sent to a local university or to the Smithsonian for analysis, only to have both the specimens and research results disappear.” Loendorf also suggests that the discovery of two mummies of anencephalic infants in the first half of the twentieth century with deformities that caused some people to believe they were adults has “contributed to public belief in the existence of a group of tiny prehistoric people.
A graveyard unearthed in the 1830s in Coshocton County, Ohio was believed to contain skeletons belonging to a pygmy race. In fact that the graves, only about three feet long, were “bone burials” containing disarticulated or bent bones packed together.
Native American little people
Ircinraq – Yup’ik
Ishigaq – Inuit
Jogahoh – Iroquois
Mannegishi – Cree
Memegwesi/Memegawensi/Memengweshii/Pa’iins – Anishinaabe
Nimerigar – Shoshone
Nirumbee or Awwakkulé – Crow
Nunnupi – Comanche
Pukwudgie – Wampanoag
Yehasuri – Catawba
Yunwi Tsundi – Cherokee
The Native American little people were said to reside in the Pryor Mountains of Montana and Wyoming. The Pryors are famous for their “fairy rings” and strange happenings. Some members of the Crow tribe consider the little people to be sacred ancestors and require leaving an offering for them upon entry to the area.
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Can you guess this howl?
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By Charles M.
So this is my story. I don’t know whether not this counts as paranormal, but it was October 28, 2011 in Baker City, Oregon. I was watching a football game at the school. I spaced out for a bit, and then a few minutes later I realized nothing felt right. I felt like I was there at the game… but in another dimension. All the people that I know where there, but they just looked different. A few minutes later, everything was back to normal.
This happens frequently at the football games at that stadium. It makes me wonder if there’s a portal to a another dimension there. The experiences varies: some of them are good, but it happens at the most random times. One moment I’m sitting next to someone and the next moment they’re still there but their clothes are totally different.
I can’t explain it. This has been happening frequently during football games in that stadium. Can someone tell me if I really do travel to another dimension that is like ours but not ours — a duplicate of our dimension, I guess what I would say.