'I had one of them in a bottle of Mezcal...'
While every continent on earth (except Antarctica) has its own version of the ‘Bigfoot’ myth, nowhere has chased the shy, man-ape as hard as China. At the Shennongjia Nature Reserve in Hubei province fossilised remains of Gigantopithecus Blacki have been found, suggesting that the giant ape, an extinct distant cousin of the Orangutan which bore similarities to modern descriptions of an ape-like, ginger coloured hominid, once inhabited these mountain ranges. A 1976, government-sponsored expedition found huge footprints and orange hair samples which could not be identified as belonging to any known animal species and locals continue to report occasional sightings of the retiring creature.
Mongolian death worm
A purported inhabitant of the Gobi Desert, tales of this bright red, 5 foot (1.5 metres) long, poison spitting worm first came to the west after 1926 as a result of US Paleontologist, Professor Roy Chapman Andrews’ book ‘On the Trail of Ancient Man’. Although privately funded expeditions to the Gobi during this century have found no evidence of the existence of the Death Worm, local legend also attributes the worm with the power to kill animals from a distance using electrical discharge.
Giant Congo Snake
In 1959 Belgian helicopter pilot, Colonel Remy Van Lierde took a photograph of an enormous brown/green serpent, up to 50 feet (15.24 m) in length, while on patrol over the Belgian Congo (modern day Democratic Republic of Congo). At the time Belgian military experts pronounced the pictures real and Sci-fi author Arthur C Clarke threw his weight behind the photos. Since then zoologists have discovered species of Anaconda and Python which can grow to 30 feet (9 metres) in length.
Also from the Congo, Mokele-Mbembe is said to most resemble a brontosaurus and is reported to live among the swamps that surround Lake Bangweulu. US researchers, James Powell and Roy Mackal took expeditions to the region in 1960 and 1980, however no hard evidence for the beast’s existence has ever been produced.
A government-sponsored expedition found huge footprints and orange hair samples which could not be identified as belonging to any other known animal species.
With reported historical sightings in Austria, Bavaria, Italy and Switzerland, this mountain dwellingworm-reptile supposedly grows to 6 feet (1.8 m) in length, has the face of a cat and two short front legs. It also kills prey with poisonous fumes. A photograph was taken of a Tatzelwurm by a Swiss photographer in 1934, although to most observers it seems to more resemble a fallen log.
This monster headed shark had long been the subject of sailor’s tales around Hawaii because of its huge mouth and jaws (despite being a filter feeder like the harmless basking shark). However it was not officially discovered as a species until 1976 when a US Naval ship searching for unexploded torpedoes caught one of the enormous creatures in its deep water net. Since then only 47 specimens of Megachasma pelagios have ever been caught.
A Caribbean legend, Lusca are giant octopuses said to inhabit sink holes and other deep waters in the region. For years proof of the existence of these Jules Vern nightmares was based around images taken of the St Augustine Monster which washed up on the shores of Florida in 1896. In fact, the St Augustine corpse was a ‘globster’, or large mass of decomposing tissue, probably from a Sperm Whale. Never the less, giant octopuses have subsequently been found off the coast of California, Japan and the Aleutian Islands and the Smithsonian Zoo currently have a young specimen on exhibit.
The Loch Ness Monster
The most famous of the lake monsters, Nessie has competition around the world in lakes from Canada to Japan. The earliest report of a giant lake dwelling creature at Loch Ness comes from the Life of St Columba by Adomain, written in the seventh century, although modern interest in the beast was not sparked until 1933 when a sighting by George Spicer was widely reported in the UK press. This interest became global a year later after the UK’s Daily Mail ran a photograph of the monster, known as ‘The Surgeon’s Photograph’, supposedly taken by London Gynaecologist, Robert Kenneth Wilson. The photograph was however shown to be a fake in the 1999 book, Nessie – The Surgeon’s Photograph Exposed.
Beast of Bodmin Moor
A recurring British story, the Beast of Bodmin Moor is supposedly a big cat that periodically kills farm animals in the region. In 1995 a government sponsored investigation found no evidence of any big cats on Bodmin Moor, however a week after announcing its findings, a young male leopard’s skull was handed to the Natural History Museum in London by a schoolboy who claimed he had found it on Bodmin, in the River Fowey. The museum verified the leopard’s skull, but also found that it had been imported to the UK as part of a leopard skin rug.
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