7 Monsters That Bigfoot Hunters Are Too Scared to Believe In
Cryptozoology is the professional wrestling of the science world. It takes a childlike sense of wonder and a willingness to ignore hundreds of years of studies and research to enjoy it, and, as with the eternal saga of disrobed men and their grudges against other disrobed men, most people's criticism of it goes no further than, "That sounds really fake and primarily stupid."
However, through my years of reading the testimonials of people who sound like they're one Bigfoot track away from becoming either Randy Quaid's character in Independence Day or just Randy Quaid, I've come across seven distinct examples that deserve far more press ... because fake monsters are just plain fucking cool.
The Loch Ness Monster is the Michael Jordan of weird things that people claim to see in lakes. As a kid who was obsessed with anything Mesozoic, I became enamored of Nessie because the idea of it being real would fulfill every dream that I've ever had, and I've only had one dream: Please, let prehistoric creatures still be around.
In the same category as Nessie is Ogopogo, which sounds like what you'd shout to signify winning a game called "OGOPOGO." In terms of media exposure, Ogopogo is the O.G. of water serpents, as it appeared in 1926, and Nessie made his first photographic appearance in 1933. When I die, inevitably eaten just as I yell to my departing friends, "I think there's something in the pond, guys!" that last sentence will be the "aha!" moment for my grieving family. Ogopogo also outdoes Nessie in the Amazing Statues department, because the main statue used to represent it is a marvel in itself.
Abandoned Pokemon fan art?
Animated sea creature in the background of a cartoon about pirates? Dragon that lets kids know that bullies are scared too? It could be one or all of these things, as this statue has forcibly pulled all of the mystery out of the beast that it's supposed to look like. Peter Soelin designed it, and he clearly decided that audiences want a monster that they can beat up if they confront it in the wild. This differs wildly from a sunken statue of Ogopogo, which was carved to look like it was in a constant state of realizing that it couldn't swim.
The Beast of Bladenboro
Southeast North Carolina has successfully fought its crusade against air-conditioning and buildings that are over two stories since the dawn of man. Its No. 1 export is sweat, and it displays Confederate flags as if its residents are hiding a time machine from the rest of the world. Only in Southeast North Carolina could there be reports of a monster with such a dumb, haphazard legacy.
In early 1954, the residents of Bladenboro began to notice a problem; namely, their dogs, rabbits, and goats were having the crap killed out of them. Most sightings indicated that it was some kind of cat, and a guy quoted for an article in the Wilmington Morning Star felt the need to let everyone know that, more important than any other information that he could possibly give, the animal "really upset the women. They were wringing their hands and like that." It's the tiny detail of an interviewee just trailing his comment off into the distance that gives us a giant amount of insight into gender relations in 1954.
"Aw, you know ladies. Wringing hands and fainting everywhere and once a month they turn into moths, I think. You know how they get like that."
Hundreds of people went hunting for the animal, with Police Chief Roy Fores deciding that the best way to attract the monster was to tie up dogs and leave them as bait. This master plan combined reckless animal endangerment and depressing circumstances in a way that few plans can, and Operation: There Has to Be a Better Goddamn Plan Than This lasted about two days before the humane society of Asheville, North Carolina, sent a telegram to Fores telling him to knock it off. The mayor of Bladenboro ended up stopping all of the hunting parties, because having a militia of bloodthirsty people roaming the woods, excitedly looking to shoot an unspecified critter, is not a great idea.
A week later, a local farmer caught a large bobcat, and the mayor and the chief strung it up on a flagpole, because there's nothing more American than taking the corpse of something that might be your enemy and displaying it proudly for people to cheer at.
They used it as the town flag for a month before it started to smell.
Two other men claimed to kill the beast as well, which meant that, since no one was really sure what was truly doing the pet-murdering, January 1954 was really just a terrible month to be a local forest cat.
In cinema, tiny, human-like bipeds are vicious, gibbering things that exist to chuck tiny spears and screech at you whenever they've been tricked by your cunning. Rarely are they seen as being as chill or collected as the Agogwe from East Africa, fur-covered creatures that couldn't be bothered to care about the white guys with notepads standing a few feet away from them.
The first sighting was documented in 1937 by Captain William Hichens, who had seen them in 1900 and apparently had just been sitting on this valuable Agogwe goldmine for nearly four decades. Then, a year later, British officer Cuthbert Burgoyne, who bears a name that Benedict Cumberbatch can only ache longingly for, wrote that, in 1927, he'd seen two of them mosey among a bunch of baboons.
"The weirdest thing was that they looked exactly like them too ..."
Aside from the tendency to only remember that you'd witnessed the laws of evolution being broken years after it occurred, the thing that both stories had in common was that the Agogwe are worriless. It takes a certain amount of composure to walk in the midst of a legion of temperamental primates, and my awe of the Agogwe is only magnified by the last sighting of them.
Professional animal collector Charles Cordier told the story of accidentally catching one in a bird snare. You'd think that being tangled in an unusual device would result in a healthy dose of freaking the fuck out for anything that breathes, but the Agogwe was said to have "turned over, sat up, took the noose off its feet, and walked away." Maybe I'm comparing this too heavily to what I would've done in the same situation, which is scream and plead for a quick death, but just shrugging off a human trap with the same ease that most people put on shoes makes me respect the Agogwe a little bit. It's the only cryptid on this list that I'd email: "If you're ever in town, I'll buy you a beer."
The Beast of Busco
Being told by your Scoutmaster that you should beware of a certain turtle sounds pretty silly at first, because a turtle takes a year to turn towards you and another year to ignore your pithy comment about its short legs. Then I used the glorious power of the Internet to discover that the alligator snapping turtle that I'd been told about was, in fact, nature's way of telling me that I'd be scared forever. I fear alligator snapping turtles more than I fear burglars, and the world became a much harsher place once I learned that there are animals in the world that just wait around to bite half of your foot off when you get too reckless during a camping trip by the lake.
The Beast of Busco was a nightmare of a snapping turtle that allegedly haunted Fulk Lake in Churubusco, Indiana. "Haunted" is a word that's usually reserved for ghosts, but it totally fits when the thing you're dealing with is a turtle that's said to be the size of a car. Gale Harris, who owned Fulk Lake, apparently made an initial attempt to capture the beast with stakes and chicken wire, and as the days went on, reporters and onlookers piled into the area surrounding the lake to catch a glimpse of the turtle.
"Maybe it's a ninja?"
"That's the stupidest idea I've ever heard."
But, when newspapers began to mock the idea of there being a giant turtle, calling it "Oscar," Gale Harris took it personally. How could people be so callous and moronic in the wake of discovering the eighth wonder of the world, and the winner of the Churubusco High School Senior Superlative of "Most Turtle"? He set out to prove the haters wrong.
He bought a diving suit, invented a periscope, used dynamite charges, and even attempted to drain the lake, all in a one-man quest to prove himself to the world as a legitimate monster turtle seer. Thousands of people showed up to find the turtle, and, at one point, two Indianapolis men tried to pass off a sea turtle as the beast. And it only takes the bare minimum of common sense to guess that the ruse didn't pan out, mainly because pictures of sea turtles existed at that point.
"I saw them in the print version of Wikipedia, asshole." -some guy, probably
Eventually, Harris got appendicitis and quit his efforts to expose his backyard monster to the world. After he resigned as Chief Giant Turtle Detective, no one else picked up the mantle. Aside from dressing up in turtle costumes and begging for Oscar to come out of the lake, there was nothing left to do.
Coming straight from the 13th labor of Hercules is the Dingonek, and all the words that describe its appearance are in the thesaurus under "Oh, hell no." It is a huge, scaly cryptid with sabre teeth and a scorpion's tail. It resides in West Africa, where it probably does whatever it wants, really. The Dingonek is supposed to feed on hippos, and if you know anything about hippos, you know that maintaining that kind of diet is akin to the old advice of going up to the biggest guy in prison and punching him in order to prove your dominance.
Its mouth is made of shivs.
The early 1900s were full of poor decision-making. It's obvious why there was so much educational reform during the time because, before you learned to count, you were taught to be irrationally interested in getting close to magical things that could eviscerate you. It was basically instinctual to pick the most aggressive option when it came to facing teeth as long as your head. The explorer John Alfred Jordan says that he shot at it, and the best way to verify those claims would be to look at Jordan's bucket list and see if the final entry was "Terror and agonizing pain."
"Nope. Just the word 'rubes' over and over again."
Edgar Beecher Bronson, nephew of abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher, wrote about hearing Jordan's story of the encounter. Jordan described finding it and then blasting away at it before it saw him, and then outrunning it before it devoured him. This story raises a few concerns, with the most notable being "Eh, I don't buy it," and the second being the question of why vacationing white men were so eager to be slaughtered back then. If Godzilla had taken place in 1909, it would've been the story of two charming British adventurers who discovered the King of the Monsters in a pond and threw rocks at him until they got bored.
Am Fear Liath Mor
Sometimes, the languages of the world conspire against your unpeed pants. As the stupidest American, if I was hiking through Scotland and heard the legend of something that sounded like "I Am Fear," I'd tell my companions that we'd be better off hiding in the most populated area possible. I'd also be getting Scooby-Doo legs if I heard further details like "10 feet tall" and "creates a feeling of dread that's so unimaginable that it will cause hikers to consider jumping off a nearby ledge."
Also known as the "Big Gray Man," Am Fear was first acknowledged as something to get you to give up even looking at mountains in 1925, when scientist and mountaineer J. Norman Collie talked about him at a meeting of the Cairngorm Club, the oldest mountaineering club in Scotland. He spoke of footsteps emanating from a thing that he couldn't see and blindly rushing miles to get away from it. In 1943, continuing the trend of trying to murder anything that isn't human, climber Alexander Tewnion said that he'd shot at the creature after spying it in a mist.
"I was just trying to protect my super-hot model girlfriend. You can't ask her, though, because she lives in Canada ..."
However, the scariest aspect of Am Fear are theories for what it might actually be, which includes it being a Brocken Spectre, which appears when a "hugely magnified climber's shadow is cast on a lower level of cloud through a particular combination of atmospheric conditions." I hope you're really proud of yourself, atmospheric optical phenomena, because you're ruining everything for the rest of us.
The Pope Lick Monster
Despite my marathon viewings of Justified, I know very little about the state of Kentucky. So, when faced with the issue of whether or not Kentucky residents would be inclined to invent a ridiculous monster, I asked Cracked columnist and Kentucky treasure Asher Cantrell, who reported, "There's so much meth and bourbon in Kentucky that it would be amazing if they didn't."
"They started freezing the meth to use instead of ice."
The Pope Lick Monster is said to be human in shape, with the legs, horns, and fur of a goat, and is the lonely survivor of a train crash that killed the rest of the Canadian circus that it was originally involved with. Rarely do cryptids get tragic backstories like this, and even more rarely do they mess up what could have been a redemptive, Batman-esque lifestyle with outright evilness.
It hides under the trestle of a bridge and waits for people who know how to type "Pope Lick Monster" into Wikipedia to come around. Then it lures them out onto the trestle and scares them hard enough to force them to jump off. In actuality, three people have died from falling off of the trestle where the Pope Lick Monster is supposed to lurk, so maybe I don't want this one to get any more attention after all. Sorry, Pope Lick. I'll be hanging out with Ogopogo and a bobcat. You can swing by when you get your shit together.
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For more from Daniel, check out 6 Stupid Misconceptions That Ruin Classic Movies and 5 Reasons the '60s Batman TV Show Is Better Than You Think.
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