Legends of mysterious creatures that live in the shadows and haunt us have existed since the beginning of time. Some have died out over time, like mermaids. Others have transformed into modern fairytales, like sparkly vampire-wolverine love triangles. But there are some legends of creatures that have been more than just stories. They have had credible reports filed, sightings made, articles and books written, movies… And even acts of extreme violence. Find out which seven creatures of legends have withstood the test of time and still have people wondering if that bump in the night could be the next sighting.
7. The Lizard People
Somewhere in the underbelly of Los Angeles, The Lizard People are said to hiding in the shadows, in a lost city that was nearly wiped out by a meteor, over five thousand years ago. The legend surfaced in modern times when mining engineer, W. Warren Shufelt told the Los Angeles Times, in 1934, that he was prepared to dig up downtown LA in search of the creatures whom he had first heard of firsthand by Hopi Indian chief Little Green Leaf. Shufelt literally sank a 350-shaft straight down, underneath 518 North Hill Street, digging for what he called the Treasure Room of the Lizard People. He claimed he had located gold in the catacombs and that the tunneled city was shaped like a giant lizard, with the head below the Chavez Ravine (now Dodger’s Stadium). Shortly after the Times story was published, Shufelt he lost all authorization to continue his project, which was previously approved and Shufelt and his cohorts disappeared. The story and rumors died out over the years, but the questions around it still remain unanswered.
No list of mystery creatures is complete without one of the most sought-after creatures in history: Bigfoot. Hundreds, even thousands, of stories of sightings of the hairy beast have surfaced over the years, but many have been debunked and few have ever been backed up with even the grainiest of photographic evidence. But one story stands out in particular, a second-hand retelling of a creature assumed to be Bigfoot, told by none other than President Theodore Roosevelt himself. In his 1892 book, The Wilderness Hunter, Roosevelt told the story of an encounter between an ape man and a man named Bauman. He says while on a hunting trip in Montana’s Wisdom River, in the mid-19th century, Bauman and a partner returned to find their camp rummaged through and torn down. That night, they heard the growl of a beast and when they fired a shot, something ran off through the woods. They decided to leave the camp the next morning. But when Bauman separated from his partner to collect their traps, he returned to camp to find his partner dead, his lifeless partner’s neck snapped with a set of bite marks on his throat. He ran out of the woods with his rifle in hand, never to return, and eventually told the story to Roosevelt. Bigfoot still has, arguably, the largest following and communities of followers and believers who actively search for the beast.
5. The Loch Ness Monster
Although Nessie is far from the only legend of a lake monster, it is by far the most famous. The earliest reports of the Loch Ness Monster date back over 1,500 years, but the key account that landed the legend in the mainstream occurred in April of 1933, when a man named John McKay and his wife spotted the creature in the loch. They told reporters that at first, they thought it was a whale, but knew it couldn’t be. The Loch Ness monster has been spotted thousands of times in the 80 years since.
Stories of the Chupacabra vary, but the general consensus is that the creature is about four to five feet tall, with short, powerful legs and red, glowing eyes. It is believed the Chupacabra preys on livestock and animals like cats, sheep, rabbits, dogs, chickens, dogs, hogs and more. Chupacabra stories gained steam in Puerto Rico, starting in 1995, where Latin American believe it is the unholy result of secret U.S. government experiments in the jungles of their country. But Chupacabra sightings have been spotted as far north as Texas and New Mexico.
3. The Jersey Devil
Perhaps New Jersey’s most famous celebrity, even more famous than Tony Soprano himself, The Jersey Devil has been haunting the state for over a century now. Believed to live deep within the Pine Barrens, The Jersey Devil is rarely reported to be seen these days, but for an entire week in 1909, throughout the state and Delaware Valley. Sightings were reported by large groups of people in places spanning across Camden, Haddon Heights and even Philadelphia. Schools throughout the area closed as residents hid in their homes in panic. Police and firemen are said to have even turned their guns and fire hoses on the flying kangaroo-like demon monster that they claimed to have seen with their own eyes.
You might recognize Mothman from the 2002 Richard Gere film, The Mothman Prophecies. But this legend dates back well before Hollywood got their hands on it. The stories started in November 1966, and spanned through December 15, 1967. Five men who were digging a grave in West Virginia reported seeing a man-like creature flying low over their heads. Sightings increased, and on November 15, 1966, two young couples in Point Pleasant told police they saw a a “large flying man with ten foot wings” and glowing red eyes following their car while they were driving. After local firemen reported seeing the creature, Mason County Sheriff George Johnson blamed the sightings on a large heron in the area. But sightings of a very specific moth-like creature continued to haunt the area. After the December 15, 1967 collapse of Silver Bridge, which resulted in the death of 46 people, Mothman sightings abruptly stopped. This lead many to believe that the creature was in some way connected to the tragedy. A 1975 book, The Mothman Prophecies, written by John Keel, raised awareness of the creepy legend and said that the events in the area and related to the bridge collapse were a wide array of supernatural occurrences that were related to the Mothman. The Hollywood film was based on the book.
While Slenderman is undoubtedly a fictional character created by Eric Knudsen (Victor Surge) as an internet meme in 2009, it has actually manifested itself in reality, earning it the top spot on this list. You may have never heard of Slenderman until the character made headlines this year. He is a tall, thin man in a suit, with a gaunt and featureless face who haunts the woods to blend in with the trees and follows his victims home, usually children. Because there is no official “story” of origination, Slenderman has evolved as a character among multiple internet forums. He is most commonly known to be responsible for abductions of mainly children. Proximity to the creepy character is said to trigger the “slender sickness” in which the victim begins to rapidly suffer from paranoia, nightmares, delusions and nosebleeds. All of this, though, was just words on a screen. That is, until two 12 year old Wisconsin girls stabbed their classmate 19 times, in the name of what they said was to win the favor of Slenderman, who they believed to live in a nearby forest. Although their actions are based in delusion, one might say that the evil of Slenderman has manifested itself into the minds of anyone who gets too close.