Cryptids Proven to be Real Give Us Hope For These 5 Others
By: Gaia Staff | September 4th, 2018
Cryptozoology is derided for pseudoscience and fantastic claims, but when you consider some of the legends that have turned out to be real animals, it lends credibility to other potentially real cryptid creatures. And while the actual beasts are often more believable than the embellished monsters of lore, occasionally they can be pretty bizarre – whether a remnant of the Cretaceous period, a curious hybrid, or an inter-dimensional entity, some of these clandestine faunae are truly plausible.
That’s why we’ve compiled a shortlist of animals once-considered cryptids, that have now been proven real, using their stories as hope to strengthen our faith that the cryptid monsters we know and love may someday prove their existence to us.
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But haven’t we discovered nearly every species of animal on Earth, you might ask? Far from it. In 2016 alone, scientists discovered roughly 18,000 new animal species. That’s not to mention that 80 percent of the world’s oceans are entirely unmapped, unobserved and unexplored, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). So, who knows how many more could be down there.
Read through the first list of creatures proven to be real, then read the second list and determine whether there is enough evidence for the yet-to-be-proven-cryptids to have a basis in reality. We’ve provided cryptid pictures to help you along the way.
Cryptid Monsters Proven Real
Cryptid monsters are known to terrorize and typically reported by a significant portion of a population, or at least a large enough group to confirm that it is indeed an anomalous creature. In earlier years, these animals were brutes fought by hunters and fishermen on outings, and were exaggerated to prove their machismo upon returning home. But eventually these tales became backed by hard evidence, and today we know them well.
The Giant Squid
19th century Scandinavian whalers spoke of the Kraken; an enormous squid whose appendages were found in the bellies of whales and said to be as thick as a ship mast. Fishermen continued to report attacks by these tentacled monstrosities, to the disbelief of landlubbers back home. But eventually they returned with specimens, or found their carcasses washed ashore.
In 1853, a large squid with a horny beak and large throat washed aground in Denmark, baffling local scientists. Johan Japetus Steenstrup, a professor of zoology from the University of Copenhagen, identified the creature as a giant squid.
Today, the giant squid is a scientifically accepted animal, reaching lengths up to 40 feet long. Their enormity is attributed to something called deep-sea gigantism; a tendency for deep sea invertebrates to be larger than their shallow-water relatives. But the giant squid isn’t even the biggest mollusk of its kind, that title is reserved for the colossal squid, which reaches up to 46 feet in length.
The platypus is a rather bizarre looking creature and if you attempted to explain it to someone before its discovery, they’d almost certainly believe you were mad. So, it’s an egg-laying mammal with the bill of a duck, the tail of a beaver, the webbed-feet of an otter, and the venom of a snake? Sure.
But now the platypus is a well-known creature, lending credence to the possibility of other cryptids that seem to be an amalgam of disparate species. When it was first presented to British zoologist George Shaw, he attempted to rip off its beak, believing it had been glued on. Eventually, he took scissors to the deceased animal, before he realized it was genuine. That particular specimen can be found to this day in a British museum.
The Frilled Shark
Sea serpents have stoked the fears of sea-farers for centuries, tormenting sailors and swallowing ships whole. From Texas to Norway, reports of sea serpents sprang up in local and national publications during the 19th century, depicted as gargantuan snakes devouring unwitting mariners while they innocently roamed the sea.
Today, the frilled shark could be considered the closest animal to these horrific serpent tales, appearing much like those descriptions written in antiquity, though comparatively smaller. The frilled shark was discovered in the late 1800s by German ichthyologist Ludwig H.P. Döderlein, and later described by Samuel Garman as, “such an animal as that described is very likely to unsettle disbelief in what is popularly called the ‘sea serpent.’”
So, it’s a shark, but a frightening one at that, with 25 clusters of 300 sharp, serrated teeth, the Chlamydoselachus africana is one of those relics from the days when dinosaurs ruled the Earth. It’s also one of those deep-sea dwellers, which is part of the reason they are so rarely seen.
Cryptid Creatures With Real Potential
The Jersey Devil
The Jersey Devil, a.k.a. the Leeds Devil, is one of the more popular cryptids of modernity, appearing to thousands of residents, since its first official recording throughout several New Jersey towns in 1909. Scores of people in Trenton, Woodbury and Swedesboro reported a giant winged creature flying through the night, emanating a horrible scream. But as it turns out, Native American tribes in the area had been seeing the Jersey Devil centuries before.
One of the old wives’ tales of the devil comes from a woman named Mother Leeds, who became pregnant with an unwanted 13th child, whom she cursed. The child was born normally, but then became a horrendous monster. To this day, it resides in the Pine Barren forests, over a million acres of land preserved on the state’s coast.
Described as a cross between a bat and a horse with a long spaded tail, the Jersey Devil has terrified residents of the state, who claim to have found maimed animals and other birds after hearing its cry. Some have written it off as a large bird of prey or a certain type of crane, but others say it is a surviving Pteranodon, a pterodactyl from the Cretaceous period.
Enter the hammerhead bat, a.k.a. the Big-Lipped Bat. The hammerhead bat falls into the megabat category which are exactly what you think they are – massive bats. Hammerhead bats can be found in mangroves, swamps, and forests at lower elevations, usually in Africa. Could the Jersey Devil be an invasive, or transported, Hammerhead bat population that established a home for itself in the Garden State? Ok, so it’s not a new species, but it would validate thousands of local residents’ sightings.
In the Indonesian language, Orang Pendek translates to “short person,” and it is believed to be an undiscovered primate species, that could potentially be of the genus Homo. Over the years there have been a number of Orang Pendek sightings by travelers, locals, and researchers who have come in search of the cryptid or stumbled upon it by chance.
The most common characteristics confirmed by these numerous sightings depict the Orang Pendek standing between 30 and 60 inches in height, or about 2½ to 5 feet tall. These cryptids are described as being covered in golden, brown, or grey hair and are bipedal, walking erect in the same manner as humans. But what’s even more bizarre is that they are said to have human-like facial features, differing noticeably in appearance from monkeys.
Not just because they’ve recently made a Hollywood sci-fi horror about it, but the chance that a Meg could exist might be better than other cryptids who call the ocean their home. First off, the Megalodon actually existed as recently as 2.6 million years ago during the Early Micoene period, to the end of the Pliocene. It was essentially like a Great White Shark, but two to three times larger. It wouldn’t be too hard to imagine a surviving species of shark with deep-sea gigantism twice the size of a Great White. In fact there are other sharks that live at significant depths, including the Goblin Shark and the aforementioned Frilled Shark.
Almost every culture has its version of Bigfoot; in North America it’s Sasquatch, the Chinese have the Yeren, in Nepal it’s the Yeti, in Australia it’s the Yowie, and in just about every other region of the world you can find a regional ape-like cryptid.
So where is the hard photo and video evidence? There isn’t really a good answer to that question, as Bigfoot is probably the most elusive cryptid there is. But why would so many disparate cultures describe the same type of creature over the course of centuries?
One could say that we have a predilection to create archetypes of mythical creatures that resemble versions of ourselves. There are also a number of other primate species that inhabit the world’s jungles, including one discovered just last year. Is it so hard to believe that a more sentient humanoid branched off from the many other ancestors Homo sapiens diverged from, like an evolved, surviving ancestor of Gigantopithecus?
Bigfoot is by far the most popular cryptid while also the most divisive, so we’ll leave it to you to decide. Are you a believer?
5. Lake Monsters
The Loch Ness Monster is the most widely known example, but when one discovers just how many different alleged lake monsters exist throughout the world, it’s possible there’s some validity to these sightings.
On the border between Canada, Vermont, and New York lies Lake Champlain, a 107-mile-long freshwater lake, where residents have reported sightings of a creature, nicknamed “Champ,” or “Champy,” that resembles a Plesiosaur. One of the best sightings (here), was reviewed by FBI forensic analysts and described as legitimate. In the video one sees the creature’s neck, or possibly its fin, as well as a large torso floating just below the surface.
Other lake monsters include Patagonia’s “Nahuelito,” the Leviathan in Sweden’s Lake Storsjön, British Columbia’s Ogopogo, and of course Nessie. Africa has several of its own, as does China, New Zealand, and Turkey. These aquatic mammoths are a global phenomenon.
If a lake monster existed it might possibly be a species of dinosaur known as the Elasmosaurus, a long-necked Plesiosaur that inhabited North America during the Late Cretaceous period, about 80 million years ago. Fossilized skeletons of these behemoths have been discovered throughout the United States and can be viewed in museums, including the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center.
Which of these cryptids do you think could be real?
Watch this episode of Beyond Belief with the CryptoHunter, John Rhodes, explaining his search for Earth’s rare cryptids:
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