In case you don’t follow me on Twitter or haven’t seen the recent spam-like hash of tweets (no food reference intended), I have lately become obsessed with creatures known as cryptids.
A cryptid, according to the infallible Wikapedia, is a “creature or plant whose existence has been suggested but is not discovered or documented by the scientific community.” In other words, these creatures are the stuff of myths, legends, and old wives’ tales.
Which, if you ask me, is pure poetry and a fabulous starting place for amazing stories.
I’m actually more intrigued by the science of these possibly-imaginary creatures than I ever have been by real life, right-in-front-of-your-eyes-and-smelly animals.
Let me give you some of my favorite examples of these marvelous beings (non-beings?) in no particular order.
- The Jersey Devil. Thought to be in regions on the east coast (New Jersey and some states close by), the Jersey Devil was claimed to have scaled wings, clawed hands, cloven hoofs, a horse head, kangaroo body, and a blood-curdling scream.
- Mermaids. Everyone knows mermaids and mermen myths. They’ve been around forever. With the head and torso of a human and the tail of a fish, these cryptids are probably the most well-known.
- Nessie. That’s right. Despite my belief that Nessie does, in fact, exist—or did, I think she’s/he’s extinct now—this plesiosaur-like giant lake-dwelling creature is the most beloved cryptid.
- Man-Eating Trees. I love this one because, if you look at old drawings of these trees, they seriously look like Rowling’s Whomping Willow, which didn’t actually eat humans but definitely tried to wipe them off the face of the planet.
- The Hodag. This ridiculous- yet terrifying-sounding creature was thought to exist in the 1800’s. It was reported to have “the head of a frog, the grinning face of a giant elephant, thick short legs set off by huge claws, the back of a dinosaur, and a long tail with spears at the end.” Wow, fun stuff. The people who reported to have seen the Hodag also claimed they had to use dynamite to kill it.
If you can’t see my fascination after that list, you might be lacking an imagination or a sense of adventure. These creatures are so amazing and, while I do believe some (hem Hodag hem) are bogus, others I think could actually exist (Nessieeeeee).
In case you didn’t know, cryptids aren’t just myths to be written off or told as stories to scare children. There are actually some animals in the world today that used to be considered either hoaxes or crazy talk. A couple of those are kangaroos, the okapi, and even the giant panda. The Komodo dragon was considered a myth up until the early 1900’s, in fact.
So before you laugh about the Yeti, Bigfoot, and the Loch Ness Monster ‘hoaxes’, think; cryptids are people, too.
Well…you know what I mean.