The Top 10 Most Famous Mysterious Monsters
Published: 11:37 AM - 09-13-11
Mongolian Death Worm
In August 2009, two New Zealanders carrying a video camera and a sack of explosives set off to a remote corner of Mongolia's Gobi desert in search of a creature few believe exist. The Mongolian Death Worm is known locally as the Allghoi Khorkhoi, or the "intestine worm," because it is supposed to resemble the intetestinal tract of a cow. (The accompanying picture is a sculptor's rendering of the beast.)
According to legend, the worm lurks beneath the sand of the desert, pouncing on unsuspecting victims by shooting bolts of lightning and acid from what appears to be a teeth-lined rectum. The Kiwi duo intend to lure it to the surface with tremors set off by detonating their explosives. Once it emerges, they hope to capture the worm on film, though not in the flesh. "I have no intention of grabbing it, stuffing it or anything like that," says the expedition's head, David Farrier, wisely.
Indigenous folklore of the Pacific Northwest told of cannibalistic hairy men and giants who roamed the great forests and mountains of the region, abducting children in the dead of night and sabotaging the salmon-catching nets of local fishermen.
America's interest in Sasquatch — later to become known as Bigfoot — grew after stories of its existence were serialized in newspapers at the turn of the 20th century. The craze went into overdrive in 1967 after two Californians screened a short documentary of footage they had allegedly filmed of the monster; the film filled out a few local movie theaters and scored them appearances on TV talk shows. This spawned decades of mostly fruitless Bigfoot hunts, as well a series of hoaxes, and led to the establishment of various societies devoted to the search.
A friend of the 1967 filmmakers later claimed that the creature had been him in an ape costume, roving through the woods, though competing theories still abound. Following suit, in 2008 two men claimed they had uncovered the body of a Sasquatch. Most of the U.S.'s major news networks sought images of the beast's corpse — only to find that its head was hollow and its feet were made of rubber.
Loch Ness Monster
Reports of a large, long-necked serpent loping around the waterways of the Scottish highlands date back as far as the 7th century A.D. The monster of Loch Ness — a deep freshwater lake in northern Scotland — has been seen crossing country roads and peering out from wooded glens, but its most famed habitat is the lake that spawned its name.
In the past century, dozens of scientists have conducted sonar scans and plunged inside submersibles into the lake's depths, sometimes picking up tantalizing, albeit inconclusive, readings of some mysterious, unusually sized object. However, a 2003 study commissioned by the BBC employed satellite tracking and took sonar readings from around 600 different locations in the lake and yielded nothing — consigning the fabled creature almost definitively back to the realm of myth.
In May 2001, India's capital became paralyzed with fear when an unidentified, unusually tall black monkey was reportedly terrorizing the population, sending a pregnant woman tumbling down a staircase and forcing two panicked men, in separate instances, to jump off a balcony. All three died, and dozens of citizens followed with reports of sneaky scratches and bites.
Rumors swirled about who this "monkey man" was — a new Pakistani plot, perhaps, or the avatar of a wrathful Hindu deity? For weeks, armed mobs guarded neighborhoods at night, and the city police even drew up a sketch of the suspect. As sightings and attacks dwindled, the creature disappeared into legend, later to return as a character (and song and dance number) in a 2009 Bollywood film, Delhi 6.
The vast, teeming Amazon rain forest can kill you in all sorts of ways, from encounters with ravenous piranhas to suspicious native tribes. But the most lethal terror reputed to be lurking in these parts is the giant anaconda, a lightning-quick snake more than 30 ft. (9 m) long, capable of capsizing and crushing wooden boats floating down the Amazon. Scientists believe that such a monstrous version of the anaconda — which in real life rarely grows beyond an already scary 17 ft. (about 5 m) — no longer exists, though that hasn't deterred generations of explorers. Even U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt put a bounty of $50,000 — a kingly sum in his time — on the skin of the first giant anaconda brought to the Bronx Zoo, which was then run by one of Roosevelt's close friends. That prize went uncollected, though the famous British adventurer Percy Fawcett claimed he spotted one in 1907 but apparently didn't have the means to overcome it and retrieve it. He disappeared during a later expedition in the Brazilian jungle, never to be heard from again.
This impish monster — whose name means "goat sucker" in Spanish — allegedly looks like a giant rodent with palsy, a kind of half-reptile, half-kangaroo mutant.
It first drew the world's attention in 1995, when residents of the Puerto Rican town of Canovanas claimed that chupacabras were behind a spate of attacks that killed more than 150 of their livestock, each drained of its blood. Ensuing reports claiming that some chupacabras were winged like gargoyles and blinked glowing-red eyes in the dark heightened the sense of supernatural menace surrounding the creatures.
Over the years that followed, chupacabra sightings continued to spread across Latin America and into the U.S., providing the popular TV show X-Files fodder for an episode.
From the black-and-white creepiness of early silent films to the campy kitsch of television series today, these bloodsuckers are so diffuse in popular culture that they might as well be real. Of course, the most famous vampire of all remains Bram Stoker's Dracula, the shadowy, insidious Transylvanian count all too fond of necking. Stoker apparently developed the story of Count Dracula after a chance meeting with a 19th century Hungarian writer and traveler. Ármin Vámbéry was famed for his journeys dressed in native garb throughout the Middle East and Central Asia. But he also chronicled the dark tales and superstitions kept alive in the Balkan valleys closer to his home in Hungary. The legend of Dracula likely emerged from Vámbéry's wanderings by the Carpathian mountains, hiking across stark terrain and hearing from local gypsies the secrets of the land's often gruesome histories.
For more than 200 years, expeditions have set off into the jungles of the Congo River basin in search of the mythical Mobele-Mbembe — the "one who stops the flow of rivers," in a local Bantu dialect. The lake monster, like that of Loch Ness, is supposed to be akin to a plesiosaur, a kind of a long-necked aquatic dinosaur thought to have been an herbivore. Colonial explorers reported large footprints and grumbling roars and recounted stories from pygmy natives about a possible "half-elephant, half-dragon" swimming in nearby swamps and lakes. A photo released by a 1981 expedition of the monster floating in Congo's Lake Tele has been largely discredited.
In 1832, James Prinsep, one of colonial India's most venerable scholars, kept a British trekker's account of his trip through Nepal, where he reportedly saw a tall, hairy, bipedal creature that fled upon being detected. This first recorded modern sighting of a yeti (ancient-Roman historians also told of cave-dwelling "satyrs" in India's mountains) made Bigfoot's Himalayan cousin a household name around the world.
The Abominable Snowman moniker came in 1921, when a British army colonel translated the phrase his Sherpa used for a creature that left behind huge footprints in the mountains. Indeed, many mountaineers, including Everest conquerors Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, reported unshod footprints far larger than human feet dotting snowy trails. Another traveler's tale described a massively muscled, hairy beast clutching a primitive bow. A 1954 expedition commissioned by the British Daily Mail retrieved dark brown hairs from a supposed yeti scalp kept in a secluded Buddhist monastery. The yeti was the subject of a rich vein of mid–20th century adventure fiction and still spurs contemporary explorers: a 2008 Japanese expedition turned up more alleged yeti footprints.
The valleys and jungles of Papua New Guinea are known to hold a treasure trove of undiscovered and unclassified species of flora and fauna. Among them, suggest some, is the ropen, a winged reptilian creature that resembles — or perhaps is — a pterodactyl. Indeed, the ropen has become the flying hobby horse of creationists, who seek to find living dinosaurs as proof that the earth is far younger than evolutionary scientists lead the rest of the world to believe. In 2006, a Texan named Paul Nation traveled to Papua New Guinea's mountainous interior and set camp in a local village near a rumored ropen roost. He never saw the creatures directly but captured footage of their "lights" in the sky. (The ropen are supposedly bioluminescent.) After a few nights of observation, Nation left his post, having seen only the aura of myth rather than the thing itself.
Edited by: Brenda Booth
permanent link: http://www.mysterycasebook.com/2011/top10monsters.html
source & references: By Ishaan Tharoor
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