Creatures and Cryptids - the Undiscovered and the Unexplained

What in the world is a "cryptid"? 

A cryptid is an unknown animal, and cryptozoology is the study of such undiscovered creatures. The root of both words comes from the Greek word kriptos, meaning hiddenThe term "cryptid" was first coined by John E. Wall in 1983, in the newsletter of the International Society of Cryptozoology (

Hokkaidō wolf
Cryptozoology encompasses three fields of investigation

The first area of cryptozoology is the search for still-living examples of animals generally thought to be extinct. For instance, the Hokkaidō wolf is still being sighted in Japan, although it allegedly vanished in the 1860s. Stories of giant grizzly bears in northern regions have led some to theorize that there may be remnant populations of the giant short-faced bear – a creature that went extinct 12,500 years ago. In Africa’s Congo, stories of the mokele-mbeme appear to describe a species of dinosaur. And is the megalodon, a giant prehistoric shark, still swimming in the unexplored depths of our oceans?

The second area of cryptozoology concerns animals which are known to exist, but are being sighted in areas very far from their usual habitat. Are black panthers roaming the English countryside? And what about the stories of giant black cats in Illinois? In recent years, a few jaguars were confirmed to be present in Arizona and New Mexico – areas where the species once lived many years ago. So far the confirmed jaguars are spotted, not black. Still the sightings continue throughout North America and beyond. Read more about the black panther here:  

Could this be the lake monster, Ogopogo?
The third area of cryptozoology, which tends to capture most of the media attention, concerns the search for animals which are alleged to exist but are not confirmed. We’ve all heard of the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot, but these cryptids are just the tip of the iceberg. The Beast of Bray Road is a werewolf-like creature reported to live in Wisconsin. The Ogopogo is a legendary lake monster in British Columbia, Canada. The Mothman is said to herald death and disaster, while the Jersey Devil preys on livestock. You may have heard about the Chupacabra in Mexico, which allegedly drinks the blood of goats. And if you catch a whiff of something truly awful in Florida, it just might be the Skunk Ape.

Some cryptids verified

Many cryptids have been confirmed to be actual, living animals. The Mountain Gorilla, the Okapi, the Komodo Dragon, the Platypus, and even the Kangaroo were once thought to be
A diver swimming with a Coelacanth 
fictional creatures. The coelacanth - nicknamed the "dinofish" - was thought to be extinct for millions of years -- until one was caught in a net off the coast of Africa in 1938. In 2013, National Geographic aired amazing footage of coelacanths in their natural environment. 
Tales of giant squid have been told for centuries and written off as sailors' tales. But in the 1870s several massive carcasses washed up on Newfoundland beaches! In 2004, the first live specimens were photographed. 

The Ulama of folklore is the
Spot-bellied Eagle Owl!
The Dingiso
Sri Lankan legends told of the Ulama, a terrifying horned bird that screamed in the night. In 2001, the Ulama was discovered to be a new species of owl! 

A similar thing happened in Western Indonesia, where Moni folklore featured the Bondegezou -- the "man of the forest". In 1994, an animal new to science was discovered there: the Dingiso. This tree marsupial spends a lot of time on the ground and often stands upright. 

Cryptids we'd probably rather not find 

Hopefully the Mongolian Death Worm will remain the stuff of legend. The residents of the Gobi Desert consider it bad luck to even mention this giant snakelike creature. Said to be attracted to the color yellow, the Death Worm itself is described as bright red, and able to kill at a distance by spraying an acid-like venom. In some stories, it kills by electrocuting its victims!

Myths abound of the Yacumama, a giant snake said to inhabit parts of the Amazon. Normal anacondas reach lengths of over 20 feet, but the Yacumama is said to grow to 150 feet or more!  Meanwhile, "Fangalabolo" is the name of a giant vampire bat, "the fear that flies at night", which is said to terrify the residents of Madagascar. Stories say it has a five-foot wingspan.

Giveaway (NOTE - this contest is now CLOSED)

I’ve always been a huge fan of cryptozoology – it sparks both imagination and wonder. I like

the idea that everything in our world hasn’t been documented and catalogued, that we don’t
A field guide to cryptids, myths and legends
know everything there is to know about the creatures who share the planet with us. 
How about you?

Congrats to BECKY. Her name was drawn as the winner of this giveaway. 

The prize is a paperback copy of 
The Mythical Creatures Bible: The Definitive Guide to Legendary Beings 
by Brenda Rosen

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to read my post, and to everyone who entered the drawing. It's great to hear from other cryptid fans, and I wish I could give you all a prize!