Tag Archives: land cryptids

#30 – The Enfield Horror

I KNOW. I fucking know, alright? I lied to you all and I promised the blog would be back to regular updates, but to be fair I also thought I was getting married and living happily ever after a few months ago and instead we broke up and life went to hot shit on a toasted teacake for a bit. These are the burdens we unfortunately all have to bear – you have to deal with the unimaginable stress of getting yet another update late, and on my selfish end all I’ve endured is the melancholy sensation that my entire life is gurgling in excrement as it swirls around the toilet, feebly flapping its atrophied arms like a harpooned otter.

Like Britney Spears however, I have emerged anew from my chrysalis of whimpering and have now restored some happiness and equilibrium to my life, so fingers crossed I’ll be better to you. No promises about punctuality or consistency though, because promises are clearly nothing more than lies with earnest ambitions that tend to fall apart like ash in your hands before flying away on the winds of grief. LOL!

YOU'VE GOT TO LAUGH!

I’ve also cracked the ‘selfie’ in the last few months.

But enough about me – let’s talk about you, baby. And by ‘you’, I mean The Enfield Horror, a cryptid that boils George Orwell’s deceased piss by bumbling about somewhere in the middle of his “four legs good, two legs bad” theory:

Humpty Dumpty is gonna fuck you up, son.

Humpty Dumpty is gonna fuck you up, son.

The Horror came to the small town of Enfield, Illinois in 1973. The first encounter took place on April 25th when a young boy named Greg Garrett was attacked in his back yard by a monster the likes of which nobody not off their fucking box on acid had ever seen. He described it as grey and slimy with enormous red eyes, but the strangest part of the story was the creature’s three foot-like appendages with which it apparently kicked and stamped at Garrett’s legs, tearing his tennis shoes to shreds. Three generally isn’t the optimum number of legs for any recognised member of the global bestiary, meaning the poor kid essentially got fucked up by some kind of spaztacular biological Robin Reliant.

"Two legs bad, four legs good, three legs generally not that fucking useful in a getaway situation."

“Four legs good, two legs bad, three legs generally not that fucking useful in a getaway situation.”

Having had its fill of shoe leather and children’s tears, The Horror didn’t hang about for long and less than an hour later was harassing Garret’s neighbours, the McDaniel family. Henry McDaniel and his wife returned home around 9.30 at night to find their two children in hysterics, raving about some ‘thing’ trying to get into the house through the air conditioning unit. Then the entire family collectively browned their trousers when something started scratching at the front door – the children because they thought it was a monster, and Henry and his wife presumably because every knock on the door could be social services when you’re the sort of evil shitwizards who abandon your prone-to-hysterics children until 9.30 at night.

Henry assumed they were probably dealing with some sort of stray animal and opened the door, a decision he’d quickly come to regret:

“It had three legs on it, a short body, two little short arms coming out of its breast area and two pink eyes as big as flashlights. It stood four and a half feet tall and was grayish-coloured… it was trying to get into the house!”

Of course, this being America, Henry had a neighbourly welcome in the form of a giant fucking gun and promptly ran off to fetch it once he’d slammed the door in the creature’s face. Reopening the door he fired four times, and was convinced he’d hit the thing – unfazed however, the monster just ‘hissed like a wildcat’ and bounded away, covering 50 feet in three enormous leaps.

IT STILL ISN'T A REAL SPORT, JONATHAN.

IT STILL ISN’T A REAL SPORT JONATHAN.

As is generally the case with these things, the original story sparked a slew of sightings over the following weeks and people eager to glimpse the creature descended in droves on the railroad tracks that seemed to form the hub of the Horror activity. A group of five young men hunting for the beast reported seeing one that fitted McDaniel’s description, and local radio news director Rick Rainbow (give the man an Anchorman spin-off on the strength of the name alone) even managed to record the Horror’s banshee-like scream when he encountered it near an abandoned house. Several times the creature was apparently fired upon, and several times it repeated its trick of kangaroo-bounding the hell out of dodge.

Illinois state troopers called to the McDaniel home after the first encounter discovered long gouges in the siding of the house and dog-like prints in the yard, each of which had six toe pads and featured a third, slightly smaller foot. There’s nothing but speculation to go on with regard to what, if anything, The Horror truly was, and the strange events in Illinois even left professional monster-hunter and all round bearded hero of mine Loren Coleman fairly lost for words:

“I traveled to Enfield, interviewed the witnesses, looked at the siding of the house the Enfield Monster had damaged, heard some strange screeching banshee-like sounds and walked away bewildered.”

Pictured here feeling up a Bigfoot, because reasons.

Pictured here feeling up a Bigfoot while looking like General Zod’s dad, because why the hell not?

Some have linked The Horror’s bizarre appearance to a series of UFO sightings in the area at the time, while others argue it could’ve been a genetic mutation or a simple case of a three-legged stray coupled with public hysteria. A stray what I have no idea, but rest assured if I worked at Battersea Dog’s Home and this gnarled bag of cocks came in, it’d go straight in a sack with some rocks and headfirst into the Thames:

ENFIELD

“Come on Fido, we’re off for a little Tom Daley.”

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#25 – Mystery Bears

MUSEUMS! Museums are fucking great, particularly if they’re full of dead stuff in boxes. That’s just a fact, and if you don’t agree, you’re probably a big stupid thickie who fills his big stupid life with open-mouthed gawping at page 3 while beating his chest with his big stupid gammon-hands. You ought to be ashamed of yourself but you’re probably too stupid to read this blog anyway. Go away, you big thick idiot.

NERD BONER ALERT.

NERD BONER ALERT.

Lots of museums have dead stuff in boxes, because behind closed doors they do all sorts of museumy things like research and… science. I’m pretty sure they do lots of science, and if they have a natural history angle, they go looking in to the details of all the weird shit that’s lived and is living on this shiny blue marble of ours. Quite often such collections are amassed over decades, and the amount of stuff on display often pales into insignificance when compared to the mountain of crap that’s packed away in crates behind closed doors, accumulating dust and waiting to be catalogued. When museums have lots of dead things on display, this mountain often includes countless pelts and bones and samples from all over the world. It’s a certain bet that there are dead specimens of anything from dozens to hundreds of unrecognised species just sitting in storage around the globe, and all it takes is the right person looking in the right place to find one:

Satan weasel is watching you.

Satan weasel is watching you.

Meet the olinguito, a charming little bastard that’s just become the first new carnivore from the Western hemisphere to be recognised by science for 35 years. It’s taken ten years to properly identify it as a new species and we wouldn’t have known to look for it at all, had the bits of one not first been found in a box in the storage area of a Chicago museum.

Naturally though, tiny little tree raccoons aren’t quite on the scale of some of the thundering fuck-titans that cryptozoologists cross their fingers and hope to exist every night when they’re knelt by their beds and praying to Bigfoot. We hope for something a bit grander tucked away in our museum broom cupboards and may well have received it years ago in the shape of Macfarlane’s Bear:

Not that Macfarlane's bear, you fucking idiot.

Not that Macfarlane’s Bear, you fucking idiot.

The story dates all the way back to 1864 in Canada’s Northwest Territories, when two Inuit hunters shot and killed an abnormally huge yellow-furred bear. Its skull and skin were obtained by the naturalist Robert Macfarlane, who promptly shipped them off to the Smithsonian Institution. Who then forgot all about it, leaving it in storage for decades. Nice one, science.

Dr C. Hart Merriam stumbled upon the remains in the early part of the following century and was surprised to note that to him at least, the skull and teeth more closely resembled a prehistoric species than any living species of bear. He named it Ursus Inopinatus, the “unexpected bear”, which makes it sound more like an awkward extra dinner guest than a ten-foot death machine that could cleave your face clean off.

Theories about Macfarlane’s Bear suggest several cool ideas, including a mutant grizzly, a grizzly/polar bear hybrid and some sort of surviving satan-teddy that should’ve gone extinct in the Pleistocene era. Grizzlies and polar bears have produced hybrids in captivity (these are often called pizzly bears – I assume behind their backs) and one wild specimen was shot and killed by a hunter on Banks Island in 2006.

As yet, nobody has properly compared the Macfarlane skull with one of a known hybrid, and the exact origin of the giant yellow bear is still far from certain. Tales of enormous piss-coloured bears are still occasionally reported by Inuits in the region, but the one specimen is so far all we’ve got, and it remains an unproven cryptid.

On the other side of the Pacific but equally far north, another mystery bear is said to dwell on the Kamchatka Peninsula, best described as that tagnutty bit stubbornly hanging on to the anal hair of mainland Russia:

"Sergei! We must install bidet!"

“Sergei! We must install bidet!”

The ‘God Bear’ has featured in Russian folk stories for centuries, but it wasn’t until 1920 that some possible evidence of its actual existence came to light. In that year, Swedish zoologist Sten Bergman examined the skin of a giant black-furred variety of the indigenous Kamchatkan brown bear. As a clever little herdie-gerder who’d been studying the peninsula’s wildlife for the best part of two years he knew what the local bears were supposed to look like, and he described the pelt as “far surpassing” in size any bearskin he’d ever seen before. On top of that, the black pelt was shorthaired, while typical Kamchatkan bears have long coats. Writing in a paper in 1936 he also described an enormous pawprint nearly fifteen inches by ten feet across and a report of an equally shit-the-bed massive skull. No specimens or evidence have been collected since that 1936 paper, leading to speculation that the unknown giant may now be extinct.

Of course, this being secretive Russia, large parts of the peninsula have long been off limits for military reasons, and anecdotal accounts of enormous black bear sightings are still said to be reported. Quite why the military need to cordon off a secret titan-bear playground I’ve no idea – being Russia, they’re probably training them to dance on the embers of burning homosexuals or something equally terrifying.

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#23 – Mokele-Mbembe

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Africa gets all the cool stuff. Well, except maybe all the famine. And the rampant AIDS. And apartheid. And the child soldiers, and the violent civil wars, and the botflies and… still, they have cool monster stories. Swings and roundabouts and all that. I mean sure, my biggest irritant living in England is the fact that none of the idiots that live near me know how to use a communal fucking bin, but I also don’t get awesome cryptids. The best we’ve had in Manchester were the bipedal rats that United Utilities pretended were living in the sewers, in a bizarre attempt to get us to think about maybe not flushing away our tampons:

That was a genuine April Fools from 2011. Because apparently, the best way to get the message across that we should be putting our cotton buds in the bin is the threat of a sentient man-rat that might scamper up the U-bend and bite us on the labia. I don’t know who dreamt up the concept, but I want to shake that bastard’s hand. Anyway, back to Africa and its awesome monsters.

I’ve already written about the Emela-Ntouka, the horny swamp-rhino that guts elephants in the Likouala region of the Congo River basin. As a beastie it’s pretty badass in isolation, but it’s not even the biggest cryptid reported in that area. That honour goes to the Mokele-Mbembe, which translates into ‘one who stops the flow of rivers’:

The Land Before Time 15 was less cutesy, and much more bushmeat-oriented.

The Land Before Time 15 was less cutesy and much more bushmeat-oriented.

Despite how absurd and fantastical they might self-evidently seem to be, stories of surviving dinosaurs have been reported from the jungles of central Africa for hundreds of years. The first printed record of clawed prints in the jungle three feet across dates back to French missionary Abbé Bonaventure’s expedition records from 1776, and the folklore among locals goes even further back than that. A German expedition in the Congo in 1913 reportedly met a band of pygmies that gave Western civilisation its first proper description of the Mokele-Mbembe – a creature the size of a small elephant with a long, flexible neck and a tail like that of an alligator. The pygmies of Likouala to this day are even specific about the creature’s diet, insisting it essentially lives off two particular types of plant. Because hey, when you’ve apparently survived millions of years and the extinction of all your brethren, you’ve earned the right to be a fussy eater.

It’s hard to imagine a bigger and more unbelievable national headline than HOLY SHIT DINOSAURS STILL EXIST, beyond perhaps “Snooki receives string theory research grant”. Rather understandably, the Mokele-Mbembe rumours have spawned dozens of expeditions chasing the story and the resulting dollar, and some of the eyewitness accounts to come out of them are downright awesome-sauce with a side of… erm… wonder-chips?

"YOU WILL WAIT UNTIL I'M DONE WITH THE LOOFAH!"

“YOU WILL WAIT UNTIL I’M DONE WITH THE LOOFAH!”

According to the lore, the Mokele-Mbembe is not content with the inherent badassery of being a living fucking dinosaur. It also apparently hates hippopotamuses hippopotami hippopopopatamuses…. hippos, killing any and all that have the nerve to swagger into its territory. Cryptozoologist Roy Mackal looked into the idea, and found that for no good reason at all, hippos are curiously absent from the Lake Tele and Likuoala regions that spawn the most sauropod sightings. If I saw enough of my friends’ brains smashed in by a giant pissed-off Littlefoot, I imagine I’d want to move on as well.

FEAR US.

Who’s hungry hungry now, bitch?

Mackal also heard a story from Pascal Moteka, a villager who lived near Lake Tele itself. He insisted that at some point in the past his people had dammed a river with wooden stakes to snare one of the beasts, and after they’d killed it with spears had butchered and eaten the carcass. That turned out to be a bad idea, because everyone who’d apparently chowed down on dino-steak died not long afterwards. Perhaps of chronic diarrhoea? Because… wait for it… that’s what I’d call a Bronto-sore-arse.

Oh fuck the lot of you.

Oh, fuck the lot of you.

The Mokele-Mbembe continues to inspire monster hunters to this day, with the most recent failed expedition even being funded through Kickstarter (an infinitely better use for the service than Zach Braff’s latest ego-wank, by the way). Filmed from a small aircraft in 1992, one of the most popular pieces of video ‘evidence’ comes from Lake Tele and seems to show something moving across the surface before submerging:

As always, the video’s hardly conclusive, but its analysis has also yielded conflicting results. A crocodile wouldn’t produce the same protrusions above the water and an elephant wouldn’t submerge the way the object does. Critics have argued that the best visual match is two men paddling a canoe, but that doesn’t account for the speed of the object. As a criticism it also ignores the fact that most indigenous villagers don’t have canoes that also double as submarines. That’d be fucking cool, but I imagine pressurised submersibles are pretty hard to build out of wood and twine. Unless this guy’s behind the whole thing:

IT ALL MAKES SENSE NOW.

IT ALL MAKES SENSE NOW.

Whatever the truth behind the Mokele-Mbembe story, as acclaimed zoologist Karl Shuker notes, ‘if there’s one place in the world where dinosaurs could still exist, it’d be the Likouala region’. Or not, because y’know… it’s fucking dinosaurs we’re talking about. Still, there could easily be something big out there still waiting to be discovered, and the possibilities are pretty awesome.

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#20 – The Beast of Bladenboro

First of all, I apologise for being a bit erratic with the blog updates over the last couple of weeks – there’s a couple of hundred American readers every time I update, so if I can just explain myself to you, I’m writing this blog in England and for the last ten days or so it’s been hot, clear skies and sunny outside. This hasn’t happened here since about 1834, and I’ve been making the most of it. I apologise for my tardiness in updating, but not for spelling ‘apologise’ with an S. That’s just the way it’s supposed to be, you pricks.

Oh, and if you’re the guy in Indonesia who found the blog by googling “Scott and Virgil Thunderbirds Fucking”, I don’t apologise to you either. You need to have a cold bath and calm down and think about what the holy hell your mother would make of what you’re doing with your life.

With that bit of horrifying admin out of the way, let’s get back to the good stuff.

bladenboro

Bladenboro, North Carolina is the sort of sleepy little American town that could give Steven King an erection capable of cracking granite. It has a water tower, an old cotton gin and a small population of around 2000, all of whom I assume are pleasant folk who chew wheat and wear diesel-stained overalls as they go around their wholesome cinnamon-and-apple-pie lives. It’s the perfect setting for one of King’s typical middle-America romps with the paranormal – or at least it would be, if real life hadn’t already beaten him to the punch.

The winter of 1953-1954 saw a very unwelcome visitor come to Bladenboro. It started a few miles away from the town on December 29, 1953, when eyewitnesses saw a creature that was ‘sleek, black and about five feet long’ killing a local dog. The canine murders soon spread into the town itself, with Johnny Vause losing two of his pets on December 31st to an attack that left them ‘crushed and torn to ribbons’, with the top of one dog’s head torn clean off.

Each night for several consecutive nights, one or two more local animals would die in horribly violent attacks. On January 1st, Woodie Storm lost two dogs, and was presumably comforted in his grief by his brothers Boner Tornado and Lob-On Typhoon. The next night on January 2nd the much more sanely named farmer Gary Callaghan also lost one of his barking chums. On the 3rd, two more were killed, and this time local police chief Roy Fores wanted to know what the living piss was going on and decided to have one of the carcasses autopsied. The autopsy found the dog almost entirely drained of blood, with the bottom lip broken open and the jawbone smashed back. On top of that, of all the bodies found so far, one had an ear gnawed off and two were missing their tongues. Rabbits, goats and even cows soon added to the list of mangled animals, often found with heads ‘as flat as a fritter’, which is a genuine quote from a man nicknamed ‘Tater’ whose sobriety I’m sure is entirely beyond question.

I'd get that insurance policy updated if I were you.

I’d get that insurance policy updated if I were you.

It wasn’t long before witnesses came forward claiming to have seen the beast. It was described as generally catlike, but often bushy haired with some bear-like qualities and weighing anything up to 150 pounds. Some claimed to have seen it with one of its young following it around, while others noticed catlike tracks with distinct inch-long claws. On January 5th, Chief Fores himself and others saw the creature attack a dog from 100 feet away; later that afternoon, a local woman named C. E. Kinlaw claimed to have frightened away ‘a big mountain lion’ by screaming after she went out to investigate her own whimpering pets. Her quote after the encounter is a superb slice of hyperbole:

“After we first saw it, and my husband [scared it away], it circled back and came running toward the porch where I was standing. I screamed and it stopped on all fours, turned and ran off. […] You know, the Bible speaks of sights and wonders before the end of time. This could be one of them. The Bible’s coming true, day by day.”

I’ve looked, but thus far I’ve been unable to find the passage in the Bible that claims the Apocalypse starts with a lion chowing down on a few redneck labradoodles. I thought that quote was probably the most darn-tootin’ly Amurrrkan one I’d find when reading about the Beast, and it probably is, but this one from another eyewitness is equally hilarious and all kinds of wrong:

“I got two dogs, Niggy, the little black one, and Peewee, a brown one, that’s bigger. Me and my wife were sitting here in the living room. We heard the dogs get awful restless. My front light was on and Larry Moore […] had his back light on. I glanced out the window and saw this thing. It had me plumb spellbound. It was bout 20 inches high. It had a long tail, about 14 inches. The color of it was dark. It had a face exactly like a cat. Only I ain’t ever seen a cat that big.”

If you missed it, just read that first sentence again.

HIS LITTLE BLACK DOG IS CALLED ‘NIGGY’.

Say what?

Say what?

All of a sudden it seems Bladenboro is a little too small-town America.

Moving on, hysteria over the Beast soon reached fever pitch. It got to the point that anything up to a thousand hunters, trappers and amateurs from as far away as Arizona had descended on the little town to make their name by killing the creature – the panic and the kills themselves ended with the death of a large bobcat at the hands of a steel trap and a bullet to the head.

Sceptics argue that the bobcat simply wasn’t big enough to take down some of the larger animals killed, particularly in the gruesomely powerful way it apparently did. The mountain lion theory also seems outlandish, given that cougars aren’t indigenous to anywhere near the area. Oh, and one dead bobcat doesn’t explain the fact that the Beast apparently resurfaced briefly in 2007, and again started mangling heads faster than some bad acid at an Aphex Twin gig.

beastbladenboro

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#19 – The Queensland Tiger

Mystery cats often create more buzz than other cryptid sightings, because everyone loves cats. Cats that want burgers, ceiling cats, basement cats, box cats, nyan cats, cats that cat, cats cat cats – the fucking Internet can take any picture of a cat and make it so ball-twistingly omnipresent that you can barely search for porn these days without stumbling upon a video that you have no interest in seeing of some cooing Japanese bellend trying to coax his cat into a shoebox with a piece of ham. Then some other bellend will take that video, cut it with another video of another cat playing the ukelele, dub some obscene electronica music over the top of it and impose the words CAN HAZ HAM UKELELELE over every other frame and for no other reason than they hate you, every awful and tedious bore that you’ve ever worked in an office with will send it to you via every medium ever invented with the subject line “LOL CATS!” until you are so fucking surrounded by cats that you choke to death on all the airborne hair and are eaten by cats. This, the Internet has proven, is the evolutionary path that we have chosen for ourselves, and it’s a more terrifying prospect than Skynet.

FUCK YOU.

FUCK YOU.

Owing to hundreds of sightings of creatures like the Beast of Bodmin Moor, mystery cat scares are quite a British phenomenon – no other country in the world has had a police helicopter scrambled over a spaz-panic caused by a giant toy tiger – but local legends about mystery felids aren’t unique to our green and pleasant shores. Australia also has its own furball-hawking cryptid, and it’s a more intriguing prospect than an out-of-place big cat from a recognised species.

The Queensland Tiger has been known to the Aborigines for centuries as an animal the size of a German shepherd with a distinct striped back, prominent teeth in its catlike head and mean claws on its front paws with which it disembowels its victims. Of course, this being Australia, where animals are generally insane Picasso explosions of misplaced body parts (all of which are generally poisonous, pointy, racist or confusing), the Queensland Tiger probably isn’t a tiger at all. Or even a cat. Are you confused yet?

We're going to need a bigger litterbox.

We’re going to need a bigger litterbox.

Just because everything that breeds and lives in Australia is apparently a big fan of dungarees with a front pocket, the tiger is believed to be a still-living descendant of the Thylaceo, marsupial predators that were once the biggest carnivores in Australia. Thylaceo Carnifex was the size of a small lion and was terrifyingly specialised in killing the shit out of things, with the most powerful pound-for-pound bite of any mammal to have ever lived and a tail it could anchor as a tripod to free up the cat-like claws on its front legs. Just because the most powerful bite in mammal history isn’t enough when you could also be shredding stuff with greater haste and ferocity than an executive at Enron in its final days.

Although presumed extinct now, there’s at least one ancient example of Aboriginal cave art depicting a standoff between a Thylaceo and a hunter that would put it in much more modern times than the fossil record suggests. The picture features details like a tufted tail and striped back – details that the artist couldn’t have known from anything other than a real-life encounter with the animal.

A flurry of sightings around the tropical Queensland forests in the 1950s and 60s led to several expeditions being led in search of the elusive beast. No solid evidence has been found to prove its existence. However there’s one possible photo of the animal, taken by a woman named Rilla Martin in 1964. She was driving her car in Ozenkadnook (bless you) when she spotted a strange animal by the side of the road, which she managed to get a snap of just as it turned to move away:

Jesus, iPhones were shit in the sixties.

Jesus, iPhones were shit in the sixties.

Hardly conclusive, but it was enough to cause a bit of a stir at the time. Some have claimed it as a hoax, while others claim it’s more likely to be a Thylacine, more commonly known as the famous Tasmanian tiger – if that were the case, it’d be just as important a crytozoological find, as the last Thylacine is supposed to have died in a zoo in 1936.

What do you mean 'their natural habitat isn't a fucking stable?'

What do you mean ‘their natural habitat isn’t a fucking stable?’ They’ll be fine.

In summary – well done Australia. As if you didn’t have enough terrifying animals in the first place.

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#17 – El Chupacabras

Most cryptids end up with cool names that end in ‘monster’ or ‘horror’, or begin with ‘beast’ or ‘creature’. The chupacabras sounds cool because it seems exotic to my ears, which are both incredibly English and whiter than Vanilla Ice flailing in a tub of bleach. The literal translation, however, makes them sound like creepy little fetishists that you wouldn’t trust anywhere near a petting zoo.

‘Goat sucker’ sightings are – in the world of cryptozoology at least – a comparatively modern phenomenon, having begun in earnest in 1995. Since then they’ve snowballed to the point that the vampiric chupacabras has been catapulted right up into public consciousness and now probably only trails behind the Big Three (Nessie, Bigfoot and the Yeti/Abominable Snowman) in terms of cryptids that Joe Public would be able to name without straining his brain-muscle. They also win the prize for being Latin America’s weirdest-looking export since Danny Trejo.

I love this man, but it doesn't change the fact that he looks like he was carved out of a haunted tree.

I love this man, but that doesn’t change the fact that he looks like he was carved out of a haunted tree.

The chupacabras first made itself known near the small Puerto Rican towns of Morovis and Orocovis in March 1995. For months the bodies of goats, chickens and other small livestock were found, apparently drained of blood. The suspected culprit wasn’t spotted until September that year, when Madelyne Tolentino looked out of the front window of her house when she heard a car pull up. She immediately saw what had spooked the driver – an odd bipedal little monstrosity with clawed hands, spines down its back and enormous, lidless red eyes, waddling in an odd and robotic way. Tolentino promptly screamed the house down, and her wailing brought her mother running.

The creature hopped off toward the woods in response to all the commotion. The chupacabras was also spotted that night by two church bus drivers, a boy who claimed to have actually grabbed hold of it briefly and another, infinitely less macho boy who simply shat his pants and hurled bottles at it. Soon the sketch drawn up by investigator Jorge Martin was all over the local media, and true ‘Chupamania’ had begun:

jorgechupa

Man, I fucking wish we could get peyote over here.

Reports of further sightings and more slaughtered livestock poured in over the following months. One woman apparently chased four of the creatures out from under her porch with a broom. One local Puerto Rican tabloid even ran with the story that giant vampire bats that had stowed away in African cargo crates were responsible for the animal deaths. In March 1996, the Spanish-language talk show Christina aired a report on the creatures in the States. This was basically the Latin equivalent of Oprah lending the story a little credibility, and a big chunk of the American population promptly shat their minds into their sombreros as a result. Sightings spread into America and began to take place through Miami, Texas and even further north. The chupacabras was also fully embraced by the internet, and the resulting hysteria meant the spiny little bastard rocketed its way into popular culture.

Since the original sighting, the name chupacabras seems to have taken on a life of its own. The cryptid is now often reported as more doglike and seen running on all fours, rather than waddling down the street like a pissed dwarf in a hedgehog suit. The net is awash with pictures and even video, like this one taken by a South Texas policeman from his patrol car:

These sort of sightings are a far cry from Tolentino’s very specific description of the original beast, and many have been explained away as coyotes with severe mange. Other hoaxes have included crude taxidermy jobs and faked photographs. The ‘true’ chupacabras seems unlikely to exist because it’s just so damned freaky and alien-like, but even the weirder aspects of its physiology aren’t unknown in nature:

El Chupacabraaww, more like.

El Chupacabraawwh, more like.

Meet the potto, an African primate that might not drink blood, but does have mean little teeth and loves to shred smaller animals to bits with them. It may not have the bulging eyes or the gargoyle-face of the chupacabras, but it does possess one of its most seemingly alien characteristics. The potto‘s upper vertebrae end in long spines that raise its fur and nearly break the skin; when threatened, they ball up so that predators can’t bite them on the neck without getting jabbed in the mouth.

Admittedly, this only proves that one of the chupacabras’ weirder aspects has a real-life counterpart. The vampirism is also pretty hard to explain, especially for a weird and shuffling little fucker that seems like it couldn’t sneak up on Helen Keller. Nevertheless, the chupacabras is a genuine global phenomenon, and a great example of how new cryptids can still come to light and capture the public’s imagination.

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#15 – The Nakani & The Valley Of The Headless Men

There are lots of theories as to why we are yet to conclusively prove the existence of even one variety of Bigfoot-like cryptid. The explanations range from their natural fear of man to their wily cunning in deliberately avoiding us right through to their simple lack of numbers. The inaccessibility of their terrain can also hamper efforts.

Ooh, and one more possibility – in the case of the Nakani, one of the reasons they’ve never been killed or captured is their tendency to brutally behead any and every silly fucker stupid enough to come looking for them. After all, it’s hard to drag a corpse back for the scientific community to analyse when you’re a little preoccupied being dead yourself.

Also known as the Nuk-Luk, these hairy neanderthal-like ‘bushmen’ are said to inhabit the Nahanni Valley, an area of one of Canada’s most unpopulated and spectacular national parks. Fed by hot springs and sulfur geysers, the valley is often shrouded in mist and would make an absolutely badass spot for a supervillain’s hideout:

This was a long way to go for a bit of dogging.

This was a long way to go for a spot of dogging.

Of course, most supervillains have death rays, or laser sharks, or weaponised panda armour or something equally ridiculous. The Nakani seem to be remarkably advanced, but only in terms of their Bigfoot cousins – they make do with tools and primitive clothes.

In 1964, a naked Nakani was spotted by John Baptist and several other trappers at the junction of the Liard and South Nahanni rivers. It growled at them and fled into the woods. Two months later near Fort Simpson, a fourteen-year old boy and his father encountered a similar hominid, this time dressed in a deerskin and carrying a stone axe. Both parties described the hairy body, pointed back of the head, flowing beard and facial features remarkably similar to those of a typical Neanderthal.

Oh look, it's Ron Perlman in his pyjamas.

Oh look, it’s Ron Perlman in his pyjamas.

Encounters are still reported to this day and range from glimpses of the creature itself to hearing its odd whistling call, or passing hikers suffering stones thrown at them and their camps by unseen things in the bush. Some claim to have left hunting kills out on their properties overnight, only to find them neatly stripped of their skins the next morning. Given the track record of other areas of the Nahanni Valley, these encounters are tame – after all, you don’t give areas nicknames like The Valley of the Headless Men or The Funeral Range if they seem like the perfect places to build a series of candy factories staffed by puppies.

Although they weren’t the first disappearances in the valley, the legend began in earnest with the deaths of prospectors Willie and Frank McLeod, whose headless corpses were found at the height of the gold rush in 1908. Since then two other headless bodies have turned up in the Nakani’s apparent home turf, with at least a dozen or so other people vanishing completely (less conservative estimates put the figure at nearer 50). Although the established wildlife of the Nahanni Valley means it isn’t the safest place in the world at the best of times, neatly ripping off heads isn’t particularly bearlike behaviour. We can also rule out an insanely committed serial killer due to the 100-year span of the disappearances. At between five and six feet tall, the Nakani isn’t the biggest hominid in cryptid folklore, but it certainly seems to be the most murderous.

RUN! IT'LL KILL US ALL!

RUN! IT’LL KILL US ALL!

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#14 – The Montauk Monster

In these crazy neon robot future-times we live in, you’d think that the ease of accessing information through the Internet would make it all too simple for the cynics and debunkers to merrily poop all over any and all modern cryptid sightings that come to light. To an extent that’s true, but the beauty of conspiracy theorists in general is that they tend to be less than thorough about researching their sources before gleefully spreading rumours faster than your mum can spread her legs.

oh-snap

All sorts of silly photographs of unknown animals make their way on to the web every year, often lifted and reposted without mention of their origin countless times. The stories at the source of the pictures become blurred and exaggerated through repetition in exactly the same way they always have done – the only thing that’s changed is the sheer speed at which cryptid stories now ping around the world.

Of course, most of these photos are little more than photoshop jobs ranging from careful hoaxes to hilarious extremes like putting the face of an ocelot at the end of a whale’s dick. But every now and then the Internet picks up on a genuine story and sends it worldwide, as it did with the case of the globster that washed up on a beach in Montauk, New York in 2008:

OHMYGOD HE'S SO CUTE WHERE CAN I GET ONE?

OHMYGOD HE’S SO CUTE WHERE CAN I GET ONE?

Yeah, enjoy that beauty in all its modern high-def glory.

The Montauk Monster turned out to have a perfectly rational explanation – although the remains disappeared fairly quickly, plenty of zoologists and smart alecs stepped forward to identify them as a partially decomposed raccoon, left bald and missing part of its jaw as a result of spending several days bobbing about in the sea. In fact, the very first article in the local paper put forward this explanation, but not before lightheartedly suggesting that the monster could have been the result of experimentation at the nearby Plum Island animal research facility.

The joke was lost on the internet, which quickly picked up on the suggestion and blindly farted it about so much that in most accounts the experiment theory had entirely replaced the actual explanation by the time most people around the world got a chance to read about the case. Proof, then, of two things; firstly, that the wonderful rumour mill of cryptozoology still functions perfectly well with the introduction of the internet, and secondly that a worrying number of Americans still have a tendency to get depressingly overexcited at the possibility of a dead [ABBREVIATION CENSORED ON THE GROUNDS OF RACIAL SENSITIVITY]

Well that's at least one joke that won't make it in to the live show.

Well that’s at least one joke that won’t make it in to the live show.

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#12 – The Dyatlov Pass Incident

One of the big problems with cryptid sightings is the credibility of the witnesses. The fast buck appeal of selling a hoax photograph or story is obvious; Bigfoot, Nessie and the Abominable Snowman sell countless books and articles every year. Because people want to believe, it doesn’t really matter that the primary source in these encounters is often a web-fingered monotoothed moonshine addict named Urkel whose primary concerns in life are incest and crystal meth. If you’re a little more analytical about it, the cryptid sightings with seemingly credible witnesses tend to be the more believable ones – if there isn’t a good reason to doubt those involved or their motives, it naturally seems a darn sight more likely that they genuinely encountered something extraordinary.

Which brings us to the 1959 Dyatlov Pass incident and the nine hikers who encountered something in the Ural Mountains. Their credibility gains an instant boost for their pure dedication to the story – they didn’t try to profit from it, because they were all far too busy being fucking dead.

On the left of the hug is Yuri Yudin, the jammiest motherfucker in Russian history.

On the left of the hug is Yuri Yudin, the jammiest little shit in Russian history.

I’m not a hiker or a climber. In fact, to me, freezing my tender little balls off up the side of a Russian mountain sounds about as fun and sensible as informing OJ Simpson that it’s over and I’ve met someone else. I spent my university days in an alcoholic coma, but things are apparently a little different in Russia – Igor Dyatlov, for example, decided that the best thing to do with his time at the Ural Polytechnical Institute was to lead a ten-person ski trek across a mountain pass in the Sverdlovsk Oblast. If you’re not sure where that is, rest assured that it’s somewhere between Hell itself and that bit at the back of the freezer that you never want to touch because it’ll rip the skin right off the tips of your fingers.

The ten experienced hikers began their trek through the mountain pass on January 27, 1959. A day later the lucky sod pictured above, Yuri Yudin, decided he was too ill to press on and turned back – he went on to live until April 2013, presumably feeling pretty bloody guilty every time he turned the heating on. His nine friends weren’t so lucky, and their final days had to be pieced together from the diaries and photos discovered at the various sites involved in their deaths, like a rubbish black and white Blair Witch Project.

Like this, but presumably with vodka instead of snot and communism instead of overacting.

Like this, but presumably with vodka instead of snot and communism instead of overacting.

Rescue teams eventually found their final camp off the planned course on the western slope of Mount Kolat Syakhyl, which translates from the local Mansi into “Mountain of the Dead”. Quite why the hell you’d want to go anywhere near a place called the Mountain of the Dead is beyond me, especially considering that Mount Slutty Supermodels In a Cocaine Jacuzzi was apparently just a few kilometres further east.

Investigators found a half-collapsed tent that had been frantically slashed open from the inside. Warm clothes and provisions were left behind – nine sets of tracks fled from the scene; some completely barefoot, one wearing one shoe, others just in socks. Further into the pass, by a large cedar at the edge of the woods, the first bodies were found – Yuri Krivonischenko and Yuri Doroshenko, both wearing nothing but their underwear and huddled around a wholly inadequate makeshift campfire. The branches of the tree were broken, indicating that someone had climbed it to look around. Three more bodies were found between the cedar and the abandoned camp, including that of Dyatlov himself.

The hikers setting up Camp Notgoingtoendwellski.

The hikers setting up Camp Notgoingtoendwellski.

The first five hikers all seemed to have died of exposure, which is understandable when you go bumbling about in -30 celsius temperatures wearing nothing more than your fuzzy Russian undies. The discovery of the final four bodies, however, changed the picture entirely.

On May 4th, 75 metres away from the cedar tree and covered by several metres of snow at the bottom of a ravine, the final four hikers were found. Despite having no obvious external trauma, three of them had serious or fatal injuries; a crushed skull, two massive chest fractures, and just to add a bit of horror, one missing fucking tongue. One doctor compared the injuries to car accidents or those caused by sudden, massive changes in pressure. The injuries made no apparent sense, and neither did the fact that the bodies tested positive for completely unexplainable levels of beta radiation.

The pass was closed to hikers and skiiers for years following the grisly incident, and the pass itself was renamed in Dyatlov’s honour. Conspiracy theories abound about what truly happened – one young witness claims to have seen an unnatural orange hue to the bodies at the hikers’ funerals, while a group hiking further south insisted there were strange lights in the sky the night that Dyatlov’s group frantically abandoned their tent and any hope of survival.

The official government inquiry didn’t do much to solve the mystery either. The final verdict was that an unknown and “compelling natural force” caused the hikers to flee their tent and meet their deaths, which is about as close as we’re ever going to get to a politician turning round and admitting that a RADIOACTIVE MOTHERFUCKING YETI murdered nine innocent people.

FEAR MY PLUTONIUM PENIS.

FEAR MY PLUTONIUM PENIS.

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#11 – The Momo

In one of the earliest and shittiest examples of infuriating celebrity name truncations going, ‘Momo’ is actually short for the ‘Missouri Monster’. And like one half of the pattern-following power couple RiBrown, it’s a thoroughly unlikeable beast that has a tendency to beat the crap out of attractive women sat in cars. Thankfully though the similarity ends there, as the Momo is yet to shamelessly resurface and somehow still sell rubbish records to teenaged idiots hoodwinked into believing that if you love someone then it’s alright to backhand them in their annoyingly undeserving chops every now and then.

"Are you serious? People actually seem to have forgiven me?"

“Are you serious? People actually seem to have forgiven me?”

In other news, I doubt RiBrown is a nickname that anyone actually uses for those two. ChriHanna is probably equally possible. Ergh, I hate life.

First up, I need to put on my pedantic hat and point out that ‘Bigfoot’ has become a bit of a misleading umbrella term for anything tall and hairy that comes out of the woods. It should in fact be a moniker specific to the myriad of similar hominid sightings from America’s Pacific Northwest. The Momo (or ‘Eastern Bigfoot’) is a markedly different beast from the archetypal Bigfoot in a number of ways; it has no apparent neck, a large head set directly on its shoulders, and a face completely covered in the same long, dark hair that coats the rest of its body. Basically, imagine a seven-foot tall Cousin It with arms and feet and you’re halfway there. Then add a fuckton of blood and a dead dog slung under one arm and you will have successfully baked that thought-batter into the sort of fucking horrible nightmare cookie that you ought to be ashamed to feed even your mortal enemies.

All that's missing is a pointy guitar and this would be the most metal photo of all time.

All that’s missing is a pointy guitar and this would be the most metal photo of all time.

Reports of a Bigfoot-like creature have popped up in the area around Louisiana since the 1940s. Momo’s distinctive heavy metal look has been linked to a famous sighting further north in Monroe, Michigan in July 1971. Christine Van Acker encountered the beast while sat with her mother in the car. Momo, apparently convinced from the look of her that he’d caught Myra Hindley, promptly reached into the car and punched Van Acker in the face. She was left with a black eye that she went on to plaster all over the national papers alongside a sketch of her attacker apparently drawn by a six year old with a brain injury:

MonroeMichigan1965Honestly, from that sketch, she could well have been attacked by a Boohbah.

"Let's make a kid's TV show about a bunch of animate clitoral hoods! I can't see that being weird at all!"

Cross a dayglow parka with a clitoral hood, and you’ve apparently got a hit kid’s TV show.

The real fun began further south and a year later near the outskirts of Louisiana. Doris Harrison was inside the house, with her two younger brothers playing outside. Suddenly she heard them scream; looking out the bathroom window, she saw a blood-drenched Momo stood by a tree, carrying a dead dog under one arm. The creature soon skulked off into the woods, apparently unwilling to elevate its dinner plans from Korean food to delicious redneck children. This first sighting sparked a good few days of hysteria; residents reported dogs becoming sick or disappearing, horrible odours and terrible howling sounds coming from the area. A neighbour, Ellis Minor, shone a light out into his yard when his dog barked one night and became the second person to come face to face with the Momo, which again fled into the woods.

Casts were made of the large three-toed prints the monster left behind and delivered to Lawrence Curtis at the Oklahoma City Zoo. He deemed them to be a hoax, but whether hoaxers staged the whole affair or just jumped on the bandwagon after a genuine cryptid sighting remains to be seen.

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