We like to think that we know everything about the world, especially the animals and assorted beasts that share it with us. But there is a whole pseudo-science – cryptozoology – dedicated to the idea that we might not know as much as we think. Indeed, cryptozoologists are dedicated to investigating all of those weird sightings and local myths that everyone loves to tell around the campfire. And while goat-men with bloody axes and frog people whose heads glow and who suck the heads off chickens probably aren’t genuine classifiable species there are a few creatures that might actually be real, undiscovered species that hide away in remote jungles or on barely discovered islands. Yes, from the heart of the Congo to the interior of the Amazon, there might just be some surprises left for us to discover. Here are nine of the weirdest.
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It’s pretty well known that the Brazilian Amazon is home to the biggest snakes this side of Tommy Lee’s pants. But it’s always been disputed just how big these monsters really are. Sure, there have been giant boas and anacondas killed and held up in front of the camera by proud villagers, but the residents of the Amazonian jungle speak of even bigger snakes, the kind that might inspire the SyFy channel to break out the extra classy CGI. Some speculate that these monsters might actually be descended from giant prehistoric snakes and the Amazonian tribes claim that the biggest of them all is over 100 feet long and weighs almost five tons, which… okay, probably not, but it’s pretty safe to assume that there is something huge and terrifying out there, a giant anaconda capable of living up to the nickname the people have given it: “The giant bull eater.”
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In the jungles of the Congo there is said to live a spider that looks like a tarantula. No big deal, right? Well, this spider is said to have a leg-span of six feet long. That’s some King Kong island shit right there. In addition to that, the Amazonians tell stories of giant spiders that live deep in holes in the jungle and even right here in the good ol’ USA there was a sighting in 1948 of a spider reported to be as “big as a washtub.” I’ll give you a moment to shake out all the heebie-jeebies (scientific term). The Congolese tribes claim that their giant spiders weave elaborate webs and feed on birds and small game, which… look, I would shriek like a little girl if a spider with a six centimeter leg-span showed up so I don’t even want to contemplate a spider so big that it could feed on “small game.” That’s not a spider, that’s a goddamn demon.
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Turning once again to the Amazon, it is believed that deep in the jungle lives a giant earthworm that leaves enormous trenches in the earth as it digs. But this is nothing compared to the “Mongolian Death Worm,” a worm that supposedly lives in the Gobi desert of Asia and which the people there claim to be so poisonous that to even touch it is to invite instant death. Apparently, the Mongolian Death Worm – which I know sounds like the name of a lousy Indy Rock metal band but I swear this is a real thing, or at least a real legend anyway – can grow up to five feet long and spits poisonous acid that destroys anything that it touches. Jesus! So basically the Mongolian desert is the site of a real life Tremors situation. Where’s Kevin Bacon when you need him?
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Yes, dinosaurs. Really, there are so many supposed “living dinosaurs” running around the jungles of the Congo that I could have just written a whole article on all the different types, everything from Stegosaurus to Triceratops and even Velociraptors. Basically, it’s Jurassic Park over there, only there are no fences and occasionally a 50-foot crocodile eats people. Probably the most famous of these supposed living dinosaurs is the infamous Mkole-Mbembe, which is basically a giant Brontosaurus looking creature said to live in the swamps. Countless expeditions have been made to find hard evidence of Mkole-Mbembe but aside from some sightings and the insistence of the local tribes that it actually exists, no one’s been able to confirm the presence of the elusive beast. But hey, you try capturing something that’s bigger than your apartment building and probably meaner than your landlord. Jeff Goldblum just nodded his head sadly.
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It makes sense that if there are dinosaurs still chilling in the African jungle then their cousin, the giant flying lizards we know as Pterodactyls might still be out there flying around. And sure enough, all around the world there have been numerous sightings of bird or bat-like creatures with oddly shaped heads and huge wingspans. Probably the most frequent sightings occur in the Pacific Islands, which makes sense. I mean, if something like that is going to survive anywhere it would be in a remote place, separate from the rest of the world. After all, we’ve seen how weird Australia’s animals are because of their isolation so, hey, why not? Of course, a frickin’ Pterodactyl is a little bit more out there than a kangaroo, but hey, just look at a giant condor or even a vulture and then tell me that the idea that a Pterodactyl is all that far-fetched.
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In the mountains of Central Asia and Mongolia there are said to live strange primitive men, less apelike than, say, Bigfoot, and more human looking. Some speculate that these strange “wild-men” might actually be Neanderthals who survived extinction and continue to hang-on in small numbers in isolated parts of the world. I mean, hey, this explains Ron Perlman. Sure, it’s unlikely that there are literal cavemen still hanging around, too stupid to die off, but just look around at your friends and neighbors and tell me that it’s impossible. We’re barely one-step above being Neanderthals ourselves.
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Whether it’s gigantic octopuses capable of bringing down whole ships or the Loch Ness monster and one of its many, many cousins in the lakes around the world, it’s pretty clear that there’s at least something lurking below the waters that we don’t yet fully understand. I mean, come on, it’s already accepted by science that there are giant squid so why not other huge beasts? After all, much of our oceans remain hidden from human view, barely explored, the last true frontier on this planet we have left. As for Nessie or Ogopogo or any of the other countless famous lake animals around the world, it’s been speculated that they could actually be Plesiosaurs, which are basically underwater dinosaurs that managed to survive extinction. Given all the dinosaur sightings in the Congo and the Pterodactyl sightings all over the world, it doesn’t seem that outrageous, does it? Okay fine, it does, but still, who doesn’t love at least the idea of their being actual dinosaurs living in the local lake? It’s better than the depressing old tires and rotting garbage that lives there now.
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It’s already pretty accepted that there were once tiny human-like creatures living in the islands of Indonesia, even as recently as the 19th century. They’re even mentioned in accounts by Portuguese explorers of the islands. But some say that even though they supposedly all died out that there are some still left, living deep in the unexplored jungles. And okay, it’s a bit misleading to call them actual “Hobbits,” but who’s to say that they’re not just chilling in little holes in the forest, smoking their pipe-weed and bitching about all the big people and those greedy dwarves and haughty elves? Clearly, we should fund an expedition by Peter Jackson to find out the truth. Maybe send Ian McKellan with him. You know, for science.
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Like anything else could be number one. Sightings of Bigfoot or Sasquatch or the Yeti or whatever the hell you want to call it are so ubiquitous, so world-wide, that there almost has to be something to it, right? It seems like every culture, every village, has their own name and their own legend surrounding a giant ape-man. And sure, while many Bigfoot sightings are obvious hoaxes, made by drunks in gorilla suits for laughs, somehow I doubt the jungle tribes of the Amazon or the remote villagers of Nepal are just making that shit up to be ironic or get hits on YouTube. Bigfoot is out there so don’t say I didn’t warn you when he comes for you and your loved ones. John Lithgow knows what I’m talking about. But whether we ever find out Bigfoot is real or not, the important thing is that he could be, and it’s that devotion to possibility, to the idea that there might be something more out there, something fantastic, that keeps us exploring and when we explore we find both the best of our world and the best of ourselves.
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