The 10 Legendary Cryptids That Turned Out To Be Real
Cryptids are a strange phenomenon. We would all love there to be a Bigfoot, Chupacabra, or Loch Ness Monster. However, it appears we may have to wait — or will we? Did you know that many “cryptids” in the past turned out to be real-life creatures? Here are ten that turned out to be real.
1. The Cute Chimera
The duck-billed platypus is one of the oddest animals on Earth. Upon its first discovery, this hybrid creature became known as the “cute chimera,” and many experts believed it was a hoax.
An amphibious mammal with no stomach, the platypus lays eggs through its single, multi-purpose orifice, and the male species have venomous spurs on their hind legs. There is no surprise scientists were baffled by this mysterious being.
2. The Komodo Dragon
Before their European discovery in 1910, scientists and zoologists laughed off the legend of Komodo dragons until Dutchman Lieutenant Steyn van Hansbroek caught and killed one in Indonesia. Wanting to see for himself, the American explorer W. Douglas Burden caught two live lizards before returning them to Bronx Zoo, where they inspired filmmaker Merian C. Cooper to write King Kong in 1933.
3. The Water Owl
Found in American seas from the Canadian border to Cape Horn, seamen named this mammal the water owl for its large, owl-like beak. Nowadays, we know it as Cuvier’s Beaked Whale.
4. The African Unicorn
Creatures with unorthodox descriptions can sometimes be elusive. The Okapi, the African unicorn, looks like a cross between a deer and a zebra. Its bizarre, long neck and horse-like face, with horns between its eyes, contrasts with a white and black-striped rump. Many thought this animal to be a cryptid until its discovery in 1910, though it took another 98 years until a photographer caught on on film.
5. Giant Squid
Perhaps the inspiration for the mythological Kraken, the giant squid became a global phenomenon when a marine biologist team in Japan recorded the first video of a giant squid in its natural habitat. Growing up to 39 feet long, giant squid are known to have attacked deep-sea fishing boats looking for food. I would rather this one stayed a cryptid, to be honest.
In the Victorian era, hyperbolic ravings about the mythical beasts that roamed Africa’s vast continent were abundant; unsurprisingly, the gorilla was seen as a cryptid. Yet, it wasn’t until Thomas Savage found gorilla bones in Liberia in 1847 that he could register a legible description of his so-called “Gorilla gorilla.”
Before this, accounts from explorer Andrew Battel depict human-like monsters visiting his campfire each morning after he departed for the day’s work. The mountain gorillas of Gorillas in The Mist fame remained cryptids until 1902.
Farmers and country folk preached for years about a giant wild hog that roamed the pastures of the Deep South. However, it turns out they were right. Named “Hogzilla,” the beast was hunted down in 2004, and at the time of capture, Hogzilla weighed 1,000 pounds and was twelve feet long. I was just trying to work out how long its ribs must have been!
8. Man of The Forest
Bondegezou was affectionately called “the man of the forest” by locals in Papua New Guinea, who considered this cute, furry animal an ancestral spirit. Scientists reclassified the forest marsupial as its own species after years of considering the Bondegezou a type of tree kangaroo. These bottom-heavy creatures look like cuddly soft toys and are only found on this island.
9. Devil Bird
The ulama from Sri Lanka is an owl-like raptor known for its shrill nighttime call. Jungle dwellers describe the sound as a blood-curdling, almost human shriek. Unsurprisingly, local Sri Lankans used to think the sound was a precursor to death, a bad omen that gave it the Devil Bird moniker. Ornithologists still debate the elusive bird’s categorization, with some believing it to be a forest eagle owl or crested honey buzzard.
10. Sea Serpent
Sea serpents have wonderful mythological appeal and even support an entire tourist industry in Scotland. However, the Loch Ness Monster could be a reality based on its oceanic cousin, the oarfish. Also called the “king of herrings,” the oarfish is a boned fish that grows up to 50 feet long and patrols deep ocean bottoms — these are very elusive creatures, a trait that only exacerbated their legend.
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Where indicated, some images courtesy of Depositphotos.com.