Cryptids: Fact or Fiction?
Cryptozoology is the study of mysterious creatures. Cryptozoologists often suffer derision from so-called “mainstream scientists” … yet many creatures once thought to be mythology or ravings from the lunatic fringe are now confirmed. In order to contribute to the conversation, The Truth Today presents this list of creatures for your perusal. Some are known to “mainstream science”; some are cryptids; some are hoaxes; some are flights of imagination. Test your knowledge, faith in the mysterious, and gullibility. The answers are at the end … or, you can “cheat” by following the links in the listed descriptions.
Creatures: Strange, Mysterious, and Preposterous
- When your home is in the depths of the World’s oceans, it can be hard to find a meal … or a mate. The Angler Fish has developed unusual solutions to each problem. The way she finds a meal is fairly obvious. She has her own fishing pole. The light on the end attracts her unwitting prey; her nasty teeth dispatches them. Her light attracts “boyfriends” too. They’re hard to find. The female Angler Fish is 10 to 25 times larger than the male. In some varieties of the species, when a male locates a female, he bites her and hangs on. In time, his circulatory system merges with hers. He trades his sperm for nourishment he provides. (We’ve heard about guys like that.)
- Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Yeti, Yowie, Almas, Skunk Ape, Grassman, Wendigo, Orang Pendek, Mapingauri, Yeren … no matter what he’s called, there have been reports of this creature all over the world for centuries. The descriptions are similar … simultaneously humanoid and apelike; walking upright; from five to nine feet tall; usually covered in brown or black hair, although Yeti and Wendigo are white; sometimes odoriferous (e.g., Florida’s Skunk Ape). Though never captured, males, females, young, and even family groups are sighted from time to time. These creatures are generally elusive and occasionally aggressive. They just seem to want to be left alone. They are clearly intelligent by human standards. Researchers have have discovered Bigfoot-sized lean to shelters deep in the forests of North America. Owners of recreational cabins have found break-ins that appear to be the work of a large hominoid in search of food or simply satisfying its curiosity.
- No, that’s not a picture of a member of the Trump Campaign or Administration staff, the head of some old, family-owned company, nor a third-rate, sad-sack comedian. It’s a Blobfish. Nevertheless, they are under a lot of pressure. These guys live live two to four thousand feet below sea level. At such depths, the gas bladders used by most fish to control buoyancy don’t work very well. The body of the Blobfish. a gelatinous mass that’s less dense than the waters in which they live, provides the needed buoyancy.
- Chupacabra is Spanish for goat-sucker. The name derived from the mistaken belief that these animals sustained themselves by sucking the blood out of goats and other domestic farm animals. They have been sighted across most of North and South America. There have even been reported in Russia and the Philippines. Most reports come from Mexico, the U.S. southwest and Puerto Rico. Being nocturnal and elusive, Chupacabra are seldom photographed. The picture included here is based on the initial work of a police sketch artist. The most widely shared hypothesis is that the beast is a rare variety of wild dog.
- This little beast has the snooty name (pun intended) of Rhynchocyon petersi. Because of his extended proboscis, his common name is the Elephant Shrew. Although the name was intended to be merely descriptive, modern evolutionary analysis indicates that he is, in fact, more closely related to elephants than to shrews. Elephant shrews are a bit smaller elephants (4 to 12 inches), but are proportionally much faster. Some have been clocked at speeds close to 18 miles per hour. Based on the difference in size, an elephant would have to travel about 370 miles per mile to match his tiny distant cousin.
- The Jackolope makes his home in the U.S. Southwest and Northern Mexico. Like regular Jackrabbits, Jackolopes are Hares rather than Rabbits. They the same genus as rabbits, but have longer ears, live in solitary pairs, and have babies who are able fend for themselves soon after birth. (Baby rabbits are blind and helpless for about a week.) In the mid-20th Century, Jackolopes were nearly wiped out by a virus that was specific to them and the High Plains Rabbit. Today, both species are protected. Like Reindeer, both genders of Jackolopes grow antlers. For this reason, most experts believe that the appendages are used for protection from predators rather than conflict between males.
- The Montauk Monster was an animal carcass that washed up on a beach near Montauk. New Work in July of 2008. Nobody knows for sure what it was when it was alive. When it was first discovered, some suggested that it might be a turtle without its shell. Others countered that a turtle’s shell is fused to its spine and cannot be removed without leaving obvious evidence. Some suggested it might be a mutant being studied or even created by the Federal Government’s Plum Island Animal Disease Center. Some experts suggested that it might be a partially decomposed raccoon, rodent, canine, or sheep. Others said it was a fake. The picture shown here is the only evidence that remains. The carcass itself mysteriously disappeared.
- The Narwhal is a medium sized whale. Almost all of the males and about 15% of the females have a single helical tusk. A single tusk is unusual in a world where biological entities are dominated by bilateral symmetry … at least at the macro level. In the 16th Century, Narwhal tusks were believed to be unicorn horns possessing magical properties. (Vikings and other traders perpetuated this belief for profit.) Privateer Martin Frobisher found one and gave it to Queen Elizabeth I. The Queen liked the rare and magical gift so much that it became part of the British Crown Jewels. It is known as the Horn of Windsor.
- The Platypus … or duck-billed platypus … is a biologist’s nightmare. It is a semi-aquatic mammal with the tail of a beaver, the feet of an otter, and the bill of a duck that walks like a reptile, lays eggs, and is venomous. It locates its prey by sensing the electric field generated by the prey’s muscles. These chimeric little monsters live in Australia and Tasmania. It’s not surprising that people in western Europe and the United States consider him to be an “Aussie” joke. The platypus is unique … the last living member of its biological family and genus.
- Porgs are small, stocky birds with short wings and webbed feet. They do not have beaks like most birds. (Perhaps they gave them to the Platypus.) Porgs are seabirds. They can fly but are better adapted to swimming. In addition to webbed feet, they have waterproof outer feathers and an inner layer of down to maintain body heat. With all this insulation, they naturally prefer colder climates. Their main source of food is small ocean-dwelling creatures. Porgs roost and build their nests on cliffs. Like Magpies, Porgs are curious and attracted to shiny objects and often collect them to adorn their nests. Baby Porgs are called Porglets. Like Crows, a group of Porgs is called a “murder”.
- The Rudy Giuliani is an unusual creature. It is a nearly hairless and bipedal primate most often found in large cities along the east coast of the United States … particularly New York City and Washington, D.C. Its most notable characteristic is its nearly constant, loud, chattering call. While it sounds totally incoherent to all who hear it, most who study this creature assume that this caterwauling must be meaningful to others of his … and perhaps related … species. In zoology, the Giuliani Family is composed of a large number of species, but none of the others are so bizarre as the Rudy.
- If Batman were a Stork, the Shoebill would be the Joker. The Shoebill is similar in appearance to a stork until you get to it’s head. Its beak has the appearance of a maniacal grin. Is it surprising that a description of such a cartoonish appearance might be doubted? They can fly but seldom go more than a few hundred feet. Their technique is a very slow combination of flaps and glides. Shoebills are noticeably antisocial. Even if a lot of them live in the same area, they tend to separate themselves by at least 60 to 70 feet while foraging. They keep their nests widely separated … 4 or 5 per square mile. They really dislike people. Human intrusion may lead them to abandoning their nests. Shoebills seldom raise more than one chick, but may hatch more. The younger chicks have the misfortune of being no more than backups for the eldest.
- Were you to suddenly see a Small-eared Galago in the light of a torch (or flashlight), you might believe yourself accosted by a small demon. In fact, he’s a primate … a distant relative of ours on the tree of life. (Of course, I’ve know some humans who seem to be related to demons.) The creatures’ big eyes are needed for their nocturnal lifestyle. They spend most of their lives in trees … foraging there for food and sleeping there for safety. The Galago’s default diet is insects, but some have been known to learn to fish and/or eat mollusks when such delicacies are available in the area in which they live. Both genders are territorial. Females will not share their territories with any other female. Males will not share their territories with any other male. However, each male’s territory overlaps with the territories of several females. That’s where little Small-eared Galagos come from.
- Tardigrades are water-dwelling animals. Even though they have eight legs and segmented bodies, they are sometimes called water bears because of their ursine appearance. No bear was ever so durable as the Tardigrade. They can survive exposure to extremes of temperature and pressure, radiation, dehydration, starvation and even being deprived of air. They are found virtually everywhere on our planet. Some varieties of Tardigrades reproduce asexually by means of parthenogenesis. Others reproduce sexually, but the eggs are fertilized externally. Fortunately, Tardigrades are vegetarians. Were they carnivorous, many other creatures in many different environments would be endangered or might never have evolved. Archaeological evidence indicates that ancestors of modern Tardigrades lived as far back as the mid-Cambrian Period.
- There have been many sightings of so-called Lake “Monsters” over many years. The most well-known in modern times are Scotland’s Nessie in Loch Ness and Champ in Lake Champlain … shared by the states of New York and Vermont and the Province of Quebec. Looking at the most famous pictures of the two, the family resemblance is unmistakable. Both lakes are quite deep … 755 feet for Loch Ness; 400 feet for Lake Champlain. Reported sightings of both Nessie and Champ go back for centuries. Again, because of that family resemblance, some believe that these two and similar Lake Monsters may be the descendants of Plesiosaurs that somehow survived the Cretaceous-Paleogene Extinction Event.
Have you figured out which of these creatures are accepted by “mainstream science”; which are cryptids; and which are pure fantasy?
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Answers: Strange, Mysterious, and Preposterous
- Angler Fish are well-documented animals. You can even see them at a few public aquariums in the United States and Great Britain.
- Bigfoot is a bonafide cryptid. There is an overwhelming quantity of anecdotal evidence from those who have sited these creatures. There’s a lot of physical evidence too (footprints, lean-to constructs, etc.). A common question of skeptics is “Why have we never found a body?” One answer is that a body will decompose almost completely within a week. There are several time-lapse videos on YouTube showing the process in animals. Look them up if you want, but be warned that they’re a bit disturbing. Another reason we don’t find Bigfoot bodies is the same reason that we don’t find most human bodies. Like us, Bigfoots may dispose of their dead in some ritual way.
- The Blobfish is a real and well-known animal in the waters off Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand where it lives. Its bulbous and jello-like appearance in the picture above is mostly a side-effect of being brought to the surface. At home in the depths of the sea, they’re appearance is a lot more fish-like.
- El Chupacabra is probably more myth than reality. The kinds of anecdotal and physical evidence that would promote him to cryptid is limited. It is likely that most sightings of chupacabra are misidentifications of coyotes, wolves, or feral dogs with extreme cases of mange.
- Elephant Shrews are real … and kind of cute.
- The Jackolope is a mix of a little misidentification and a lot of hoax and tomfoolery. Shope papilloma virus (SPV) is a disease that infects leporids (Rabbits and Hares). The virus produces a fibrous carcinoma that can look like horns. Sightings of these infected bunnies may have been described as “rabbits with horns”. With the magic of human imagination, these stories grew into the legend of the Jackolope and its more exotic looking European cousin, the Wolpertinger. Not known for being reserved in their storytelling, people who lived on the American frontier elevated the Jackolope to celebrity status.
- A number of experts have examined the picture since the internet noise died down. Most have concluded that the Montauk Monster was a dead raccoon that had been decomposing in the ocean for quite a while before washing up on the beach.
- Narwhals are real. They are ocean mammals closely related to the Beluga Whale. Their horns are actually tusks filled with nerve endings that help them to sense their environment and, perhaps, communicate with each other.
- The publisher of “The Truth Today” learned about the Platypus in elementary school … probably from a classmate who found a description of the animal in an Encyclopedia. It’s the strangest of the many strange real animals that make their homes Down Under. (Note to Millennials and members of Generation Z: Imagine Wikipedia with a lot fewer entries stored in about 3 dozen books … possibly updated annually with a new book you receive via snail-mail. That’s an Encyclopedia.)
- Porgs are creatures from the Star Wars Universe that first appeared in “The Last Jedi“. The are cute, annoying, and fictional.
- Although he has appeared on almost every network and cable news program over the past couple of years, there is no evidence that the Rudy Giuliani really exists. “The Truth Today” believes that he is a total fabrication of the Media, the Trump Administration, or some other source of fake news … possibly based on “The Weekly World News” character “Bat Boy” or “Nosferatu” from the silent movie of the same name.
- Strange as he looks, the Shoebill is a real bird. The picture above is a bit deceptive because of it’s perspective. The Shoebill does have a big head and bill, but it’s not as big as his body. Like a Stork. he has long legs. The average height of a Shoebills is 47 inches. Some have been known to attain a full 5 feet.
- Also known as the Northern Greater Galago, the Small-eared Galago is a real animal. The length of his head and body averages about 10 and a half inches. His tail is longer … about 14 inches on the average. Like us, they are omnivores, but threatening only to fruit, insects, and the occasional shellfish. Colloquially called Bush Babies, these little guys can be downright cute … and, apparently, ticklish.
- Tardigrades are very real … and very small. They average about 0.02 inches long. They are micro-animals. If you happen to be a micro-plant, they are extremely dangerous. Otherwise, you’re safe. Tardigrades are so indestructible that they can survive being fully dehydrated … as dry as dust … for at least 5 years. By our experience, they seem to be stone cold dead … until the get wet, rehydrate, and walk away. Cockroaches may or may not inherit the Earth. These guys probably will. The may have survived some Global Extinction Events already.
- Nessie, Champ, Morag, the Lagarfljót Worm, Ogopogo, Lariosauro, Memphre, Bessie, Nahuelito, Muyso, Van Gölü Canavarı, Inkanyamba, Tahoe Tessie, and the Flathead Lake Monster … we hear stories of Lake “Monsters” from widely dispersed places and many cultures. Some are touched by mythology. A few have been cluttered by a hoax. Some have proven to be misidentified real animals. Mythology, hoaxes, and misidentification notwithstanding, like Bigfoot, there are enough reasonable witnesses reporting sightings and enough peripheral hard evidence to keep cryptozoologists believing that these Plesiosaur-like creatures could be real.