What the Heck Did I Just See?: Books All About Cryptids

Have you ever been driving and seen something weird out of the corner of your eye? Or maybe you were out camping and saw the silhouette of something you couldn’t quite identify. Maybe after bingeing episodes of “The X-Files” you yourself thought you saw something worth an investigation by Scully and Mulder. If any of these situations sound familiar, this is the blog post for you because we are going to be talking all about cryptids. Cryptids, as defined by Merriam-Webster, are any animal that alleged to exist but have never been definitively proven as being real. [1] In this post, we will go over some of the best-known cryptids, their lore, and what additional resources are available to you through your library.

Big Foot

Big foot has become so well known that it (they?) practically needs no introduction. In this day and age you would be hard pressed to find anyone in the United States who doesn’t know who Big Foot is. People have been talking about or creating images of creatures matching the description of Big Foot in North America since before the Europeans arrived to the continent, with some sources possibly being over 1,000 years old. [2] No matter how old the descriptions are, they typically all describe a creature roughly eight feet tall, hairy, elusive, and has big feet, not unlike a big ape. While more common in the Pacific Northwest, Big Foot has been spotted all over the country. Being such an enigmatic figure, there have been multiple resources created all about Big Foot, some of which are listed below. [3]

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The Yeti

Due to their similarities, i.e., both being giant apelike creatures, Yetis are often thought of as Big Foot’s snowy cousin. While the Yeti has purportedly been seen in areas as far north as Siberia, its traditional stomping grounds are the Himalayan Mountains and their surrounding environments. Sherpa folklore identify three varieties of Yeti: the Nyalmo, which stands as tall as fifteen feet, the Chuti, which is closer to Big Foot’s eight foot height, and the Rang Shim Bombo, which stands somewhere between three and five feet tall. [4] Each of these Yeti varieties is said to inhabit different altitudes and have varying demeaners. What ever the variety is, check out the resources below for more info.

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The Loch Ness Monster

Right up there on the list of well-known cryptids is the Loch Ness Monster, also nicknamed Nessie. Similar to Big Foot and the Yeti, Nessie also has a long-storied history, with possible sightings dating as far back as the 6th century. [5] Unlike Big Foot and the Yeti, however, Nessie is thought to inhabit one specific place: Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. Descriptions of Nessie run the gambit, with some claiming that she has a resemblance similar to a dragon, and others saying that she looks more like a big eel or a serpent. Still others contest that she looks similar to a dinosaur. Regardless of how she looks, Nessie has captured the attention of not just her countryfolk, but people all over the world.

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Mothman is another wonderful and intriguing cryptid. While originating from the Point Pleasant area of West Virginia, Mothman has been seen all across the world. The name Mothman aptly describes what this cryptid looks like. Part moth and part man, Mothman is said to resemble a seven-foot-tall man with white wings and glowing red eyes. The majority of Mothman sightings began in the year 1966 when a Point Pleasant couple allegedly spotted him along the side of the road. Multiple other sightings followed after their sighting was reported on in the local newspapers. One particularly ominous part of Mothman lore is that he appears before a disaster happens, an attribute tracing back to the fact that he was first spotted a year prior to the Silver Bridge collapse that happened in Point Pleasant. The explanations regarding Mothman range from him being an alien, a misidentified bird, or the real deal. Each of these explanations, and then some, are covered in the resources below. [6]

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The Chupacabra

While the Chupacabra doesn’t have as long of a history as some of the other cryptids in this blog post, being that its first alleged sighting was in 1995, it is still a fascinating cryptid. [7] Although it originates from Puerto Rico and is most commonly reported to be in Latin America, there are those who claim to have seen it all over the world. What the Chupacabra looks like largely depends on the area that it is spotted in. Chupacabra sightings in Latin America typically describe it as looking like a reptile-like humanoid with large eyes, scales, and a spiny back. However, sightings of the Chupacabra in the Southwest United States claim that it looks more like a dog than a reptile. Whatever it looks like, claims about its behavior are all pretty similar in that it kills livestock, particularly goats, and drains all the blood from their bodies. More detailed information on this creature can be found in the resources below.

Featured on episode three of season one.

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The Dogman is a cryptid that has its roots a little closer to home than the others on this list. Although the first sighting of the Dogman was in Wexford County, Michigan in 1887, subsequent sightings have put him all over the state, popping up in Luther, Paris, Manistee, and even Allegan County. As such, the Dogman is the only cryptid on this list that could get a library card at Herrick District Library. The Dogman fits the standard description of most monster-man cryptids, i.e., seven-feet tall and walks upright with the body of a man and the head of a dog. Depending on the description, the proportions of how much the Dogman is dog and how much he is man varies. Interest in the Dogman spiked in 1987 when a DJ for a Traverse City radio station by the name of Steve Cook wrote a song called “The Legend,” which references various myths and legends from around the state. Following the release of the song, people called in droves saying that they have seen a similar creature. [8]

Having grown up in the area, I was familiar with the legend of the Dogman. Shortly after we graduated high school, my friends and I, with nothing better to do, used to drive around unmarked roads in the Allegan State Game area looking for the Dogman. We never did see him on one of these expeditions, although I did once see something driving on M-40 on my way back from my in-laws that seemed Dogman-like. It was raining hard out and out of the corner of my eye I saw what I can only describe as a person in a ghillie-suit squatted down with really long arms outstretched in front of themselves. For all I know it could have been a downed tree or a bush or someone walking along the road, but at the time it really freaked me out. Thankfully you don’t have to rely on just my story because we have some resources available all about the Dogman.

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Flatwoods Monster

The Flatwoods Monster origin story is a fun one because it reads like an episode of “The X-Files.” On a summer night in 1952, two young brothers and their friend witnessed a bright object whizz across the sky and land in a nearby farmer’s field. The boys all went to the home of the brothers and told their mom what happened, at which point the three boys, with their mother, two other kids, and a National Guardsman went to the farm to see if they could find the object. Once they reached the farm, they climbed a hill, at which point the kids saw a pulsating red light, causing the National Guardsman to point his flashlight towards the light and see the Flatwoods Monster. The monster is described as being ten feet tall with red eyes and a pointed head that resembles a mulberry leaf or an ace of spades. The creature is also said to have two claw-like hands, move in a gliding motion, and possess the ability to hiss. When the Flatwood Monster approached the group, they did what any logical person would do: drop their flashlight and run the opposite direction of the creature. The group later said that there was a terrible smell in the area they saw the creature and that many of them felt nauseous afterwards. A debate continues to this day about whether the Flatwoods Monster that the group claims to have seen was an alien or if it was just a case of mistaken identity. One leading opinion is that the group saw a Barn Owl perched on a branch with its shadow causing it to look tall and in turn be mistaken for a monster. Likewise, some have also attributed the bright object that the group saw to be a meteor that was reported by others across the state, as well as individuals in Maryland and Pennsylvania. Whatever the Flatwoods Monster was, he is featured in the documentary below.[9]

The Flatwoods Monster: A Legacy of Fear

Information for the blog post was gathered from the resources below:

[1] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cryptid

[2] https://tulerivertribe-nsn.gov/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/painted-rock.pdf

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bigfoot

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yeti

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loch_Ness_Monster

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mothman

[7] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chupacabra

[8] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michigan_Dogman

[9] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flatwoods_monster