One of the elements of fantasy-fiction that makes it so popular and interesting, is its insertion of mythical creatures and legends. These creatures, and how the human characters interact with them, is part of the adventure that avid fantasy-lovers let themselves get carried away into. It's escapism at its best. It's what makes Game of Thrones one of TV's most popular TV shows today, and what keeps inspiring the supernatural craze that dates all the way back to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charmed.
If we go further back, we find that great literature was also populated with these legends, like Shakespeare's fascination with mermaids and fairies. When Disney got a hold of a few of these creatures, it held tight and never let go (commercials for Tinkerbell TV movies abound). At the end of the day, young or old, believers or skeptics, we can't help but get sucked into a good old fashioned fantasy-adventure, populated by all the things most of us will never see. But what about those who really do see and report their sightings? Read on to find out what the 10 most popular Mythical creatures ever spotted are.
Abundant in European folklore is the unicorn, a mythical horse-like creature used to symbolize purity and grace in popular fiction. The majestic creature, adored by little girls everywhere, has been hunted for centuries. Evidence of the unicorn’s existence was even fabricated in Germany, 1663. Under Mayor Otto Von Guericke, of Magdeburg, a unicorn skeleton was constructed out of prehistoric bones found, including those of a woolly rhinoceros and a mammoth.
Today, sightings continue, even though most conceded that the creature is purely mythical. Last year, an anonymous man claimed to have spotted a unicorn in Scotland. It was the first sighting for Northern Scotland, coming only a couple years after North Korea “confirmed” the existence of a unicorn lair. North Korea’s claim that unicorns exist empirically, remains very much doubted by skeptics. Sightings had always tended to occur in China and India, but have become more common in Canada over the last couple of years.
The Banshee is said to be a sort of spirit creature originating in Irish folklore. She is said to watch over a particular family, letting out a scream or cry when a member of that family is about to die. The foretelling of death has been seen as both a blessing, and a curse. After all, when you hear the banshee scream, someone you love will be lost. She is, in turn, a death omen.
Not surprisingly, the banshee has been featured in much of popular fiction, including TV shows like Charmed and Supernatural. But where there’s a legend, there’s the chance to “see”. In Ireland, hearing (or even spotting) a banshee is not by any means a rare occurrence. A woman contacted Crypto Crew to tell her own story, just last year. One night, she was forced to call the police after seeing a strange woman on her property screaming. The police found no one, and pointed out that they receive banshee-sighting reports often enough. The woman called to check up on her family, and was informed her mother had just passed.
Iceland is not without its mythical creatures. Much like Trolls in Scandinavia, and Leprechauns in Ireland, elves are the small mythic humanoids in Iceland legends. They are said to be territorial, and ill-tempered little buggers; so nothing like the happy toy-makers in Santa’s factory. Norse mythology has been populated with elves for centuries, while much of what other places know of them come strictly from Christmas tales.
But in Iceland, seeing an elf is nothing to sing a carol about. Yet, sightings are intriguing nonetheless. The Icelandic pianist, Erla Stefansdottir, famous for being a self-proclaimed seer, is among the many that claim to have crossed paths with elves. In Iceland today, tourists still line up to follow Erla on one of her elf-sighting tours, hoping to catch a glance at the small annoyed creatures. Many accounts of spottings have been posted about on various paranormal websites, including the Paranormal Phenomenon Forum.
In the 1950s, tales of a giant humanoid ape-man began to abound. The 1951 photograph of a giant footprint, taken by Eric Shipton, quickly took shape as one of the biggest, and most debatable, legends of all time. While most scientists credit the “creature” to be a combination of misidentification and hoax, there are many true believers out there.
In 2002, Ray Wallace (a Californian logger and WWII vet) passed away, leaving behind an unexpected legacy. According to his family, he was the original Bigfoot hoaxer. With his death, was effectively the death of Bigfoot. And yet, 2002 remained a big year for sightings, indicating that not even accredited hoax can kill a myth so deeply embedded into the popular consciousness. In fact, accounts continue as if Wallace’s truth was never revealed. Bigfoot remains one of the few legendary creatures that is so tracked, despite its youth.
Mermaids: Mermaids and mermen have persisted in being among the most popular mythical creatures, both in popular fiction, and in real life. Stories of sightings date back to long before Shakespeare ever wrote the romantic creatures into his play, A Midsummer’s Night Dream. People have been claiming to spot mer-people for longer than scholars can keep track of; Ancient Greece and Rome, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance — you name a time period, and a mer-person was spotted in it.
For those who believed the mermaid was nothing more than a beautiful fictitious creature with red hair and a beautiful voice brought to life by Disney, a 2012 docu-fiction changed everything. Animal Planet aired the special, which claimed to uncover the truths behind an unidentified marine body. Although marketed as a documentary, it was a work of fiction -- one which stirred much controversy. Still, sightings all over the world continue happen, and the mer-people remain the most fascinating creatures of popular imagination.
The ancient legend of the werewolf is perhaps one of the most commonly re-told in popular fiction. From An American Werewolf in London, to Teen Wolf, to Ginger Snaps, and then to the Teen Wolf reboot -- it never seems to end. And neither do the sightings, especially in Wisconsin.
According to legend, the area now called Wisconsin used to be populated by a Native American tribe endowed with the gift of the werewolf. Today, old Bray Road remains one of the most (apparently) werewolf infested spots in the world. Although the stories date back to the 1930s and further, a 1999 case got a lot of attention when a young woman claimed to have been attacked by the beast while driving down Bray Road on Halloween night. Since then, the stories flow at an alarming rate, with others finding the strength to come forward.
The ghost of the North first appeared in the popular imagination in the classic horror tale, The Wendigo, by Algernon Blackwood. Despite its firm grounding in fiction, many Northerners believe the story to be based on a scary reality. The legend holds that a Wendigo is born out of anyone who resorts to cannibalism, a very real fear in the bitter cold of the backwoods. It makes perfect sense then that the story is rooted in a collective fear, specific to the region.
The fear continues, because people continue to claim they have seen a Wendigo. Over the century, the tales have persisted. In fact, it has spread. In 1997, Northern Ontario, a Wendigo was seen by an American trucker passing though. It is described by many as a large humanoid, wild in appearance, and not so unlike bigfoot. Campers, beware.
Another recent American legend, first ‘discovered’ in the 1960s, is Mothman. What makes this mythic creature all-the-more intriguing, is the cluster of sightings upon its arrival into the public consciousness. Late in 1966, a West Virginian newspaper reported that a young couple had seen an unidentified man-like figure, with glowing red eyes, flying around. Over the next year, sightings were frequent, and the descriptions consistent. Although this may have been because the newspaper publicized the event, complete with a description, people panicked.
Today, the creature continues to be spotted. In Tennessee, a paranormal investigator claimed to have come in contact with a being that seemed to be Mothman himself. He pegged him at roughly eight feet tall, glowing red, with webbed arms. In Texas, a grown man has been haunted by the memory of Mothman from an encounter when he was just a boy. It has been speculated that the sudden appearance of Mothman indicates he was an alien visitor, and in 1975, the popular book The Mothman Prophecies was born.
Walt Disney did not invent the fairy, in fact, in the 1920s he belonged to a prestigious Faery Investigation Society. The mythical creature was said to be friendly, and sightings of fairies were quite frequent. During the 1990s however, interest died down and the Society closed up shop. Recently, Dr. Simon Young re-launched only to find that fairy sightings are back with a vengeance — and fairies seem to have changed. The once benign creatures are now being reported to be aggressive and ill-tempered; scary even.
Dragons populate the stories of many ancient tales. The often vicious fire-breather has been linked to natural disasters all over the world, and continues to be seen all about. They have become a necessary ingredient for good period-fantasy fiction, like Game of Thrones. But dragons are not just being seen on TV these days. Modern dragon sightings are actually reported regularly.
Back in 1976, a winged reptile thought to be a dragon took up residence in Texas for some time. In Tibet, people feared a scaly, house-sized, dragon that was apparently eating fisherman. And in China, 2002, 500 witnesses identified a horned, black-scaled, dragon as the unidentified creature in Lake Tianchi. Not to mention YouTube’s many dragon caught-on-tape uploads. If you ever wanted to see what may be a dragon, the internet has made it wildly possible.