24 Extremely Local Cryptids You've Probably Never Heard Of - Atlas Obscura

24 Extremely Local Cryptids You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

There are monsters seemingly around every corner.

Cryptids all around.
Cryptids all around. All Illustrations: Micky Walls

Full disclosure: I choose to believe in the possible existence of cryptids. Sort of. I like the idea that there are strange, undiscovered creatures hidden in the shadows of our world. I’m well aware of how utterly unlikely it is that cryptids and other folkloric creatures exist, but I’m certainly not alone in my blinding enthusiasm for them. We recently asked the readers in our Community forum to tell us about their favorite local cryptids, and to paraphrase a great (fictional) person, the responses make us want to believe.

From a creature that’s more rabbit than human, to a herd of extremely local Bigfoots, to a mad scientist’s escaped “Melon Heads,” our readers (and staff!) told us about a wide variety of incredible beasties from their regional folklore. You can see some of our favorite responses below. If you want read about more local cryptids, or tell us about a favorite unknown creature of your own, head to the Community forums and join the conversation! The truth is out there… but the myths are a lot more fun.


Old Ned

Lake Utopia, New Brunswick

“Apparently there’s a monster in that lake. ‘Old Ned,’ they call him, and sightings go back into local indigenous folklore. My grandfather claimed to have seen it as a boy, serpent-like and scaly and swimming very quickly across the lake. You can well imagine that hearing that story, the imagination of six-year-old me latched in to what that must have been like for my grandfather’s 10-year-old self back in the 1920s!” yodaddeo


Big Muddy Monster

Murphysboro, Illinois

“Murphysboro, Illinois, (near Southern Illinois University-Carbondale) has repeated sightings (and smellings) of the Big Muddy Monster. Many believe it may be related to (if not the same as) the Creve Coeur Monster, sighted near the St. Louis suburb. This is an animal often likened to Sasquatch in size and appearance, but with a distinct ‘skunky’ smell. Those who believe the two cryptids are the same surmise that the animal swam down the Big Muddy River in Murphysboro to the Mississippi River and, thence, north to the Missouri River, by which it swam to a bend in the river near Creve Coeur.” — flashgourd


Bunny Man

Northern Virginia

“Virginia, it’s the Bunny Man, but I don’t know if we can consider it a cryptid or a ghost story. One story is that he was a man who escaped a state facility and lived in the forest and wore rabbit pelts to stay warm. The other is the same except, there’s an experiment that goes horribly wrong (like all good cryptid tales) at the facility and he becomes … HALF MAN/HALF BUNNY!” — jonathancarey


Rougarou

Louisiana

“Here in Louisiana, the local cryptid is the rougarou, which has many spellings, and derives from the French loup-garou, which literally means ‘werewolf.’ Although relatively common across the French-speaking world, like so many things, it appears to have gained particular prominence in the swamps of Louisiana.” — theinsomniac4life


Lake Worth Monster

Lake Worth, Texas

“In the wilds on north Tarrant County roamed the Lake Worth Monster, supposedly caught on camera in 1969. Never saw it myself, but it caused a big scare in the area.” — bubbahargo


Grassman

Ohio

“Cuyahoga Valley National Park has a giant hominid called the ‘Grassman’ and he has three toes for some reason. I really hope he’s more Swamp Thing than Bigfoot.” Samir Patel


Goatman

Prince George’s County, Maryland

“A ‘lovers lane’–type of cryptid that reportedly attacks parked cars with an axe. An escaped experiment from the local USDA or University of Maryland laboratories?” mafisc


White River Monster

Newport, Arkansas

“In Arkansas, there is what is known as the ‘White River Monster,’ a large creature reportedly first spotted off the banks of the White River as far back as the Civil War. It’s a big, scaly, fish-type thing, about 12 feet long, with a single horn on its head, that supposedly sank a riverboat or two. — second8d


Hopkinsville Goblins

Christian County, Kentucky

“I grew up in Kentucky and heard stories about the Kelly Green Men, aka Hopkinsville Goblins. In 1955 two families were terrorized by aliens or goblins or something. They were assumed to be aliens and while they are called the Kelly Green Men, their skin was actually gray. There’s now a festival held in Kelly, Kentucky.”ohthesunshinesbright


Oklahoma Octopus

Oklahoma

“We’re all about some Bigfoot here in Oklahoma what with a festival and all, but my personal favorite is … the terrifying menace that is the Oklahoma Octopus (extra points for being alliterative)!” shatomica


Melon Heads

Kirtland, Ohio

“Growing up, we always heard stories about the Melon Heads that lived in the woods between Kirtland and Chardon, Ohio. The story was that there was a doctor who lived in the woods who somehow acquired a bunch of children, possibly from a mental hospital, and performed experiments on them that caused their heads to become bulbous and misshapen. One night, the children revolted and burned down the doctor’s house and they now roam the woods looking for human contact.” davekoen


Lizard Man

Lee County, South Carolina

“I’ve got an unusual one for you. As a child back in the mid-80s in South Carolina, I lived around the Lee County–Florence County border. This story erupted on the scene and stuck around for years. The report centered around a 7-foot-tall ‘Lizard Man.’ It was a huge thing. TV crews from all over the country showed up, people were selling merchandise on the side of the road, etc. […] Everything from ‘The Lizard Man ate my dog’ to reports of the Lizard Man running across I-20 carrying a deer. After one of the initial reports was proven false, chatter began to die down, but for years afterward it would fire up again if an unexplained event occurred. There was even a televised resurgence as recently as 2008 when CNN did a bit on. Crazy!” Bacon_McBeardy


Honey Island Swamp Monster

Louisiana

“The Honey Island Swamp Monster is basically a swamp Bigfoot from the area around Honey Island Swamp in southeast Louisiana.” HaleyJo


Dire Wolf

Uintah County, Utah

“Not sure what it was called, but I listened to a podcast about cryptids and it talked about basically a modern day, dire wolf/human combo that lived on a ranch somewhere in Utah. A family moved into an old ranch and noticed that all the windows and doors were tightly secured and that there had been wolf sightings years ago in that area. The new owner didn’t think much of it until they found some dead cows with holes in them. No blood. Then the owner saw what looked like a wolf from far away. The wolf creature basically ends up running up to him and he shoots it. The gun does no visible harm even though it made a hole in its shoulder. Then the wolf creature casually walks away. The guy ends up looking for one of his missing cows and finds it dead. He also finds a calf getting attacked by the thing and being carried off. If I remember correctly he tries chasing it down and it outruns him on his horse. The guy doesn’t know what he’s up against so he tells a local wildlife expert who shows him different species of wolves. They pass a picture of the creature and the wildlife expert tells him that it’s a dire wolf and it hasn’t been alive for thousands of years. This one freaked me out because bulletproof giant wolves that were supposed to be dead is something that would definitely take advantage of my mild fear of dogs.” AloiPokie


Loveland Frogman

Loveland, Ohio

“The Loveland Frogman, from Loveland, Ohio, is one of my local favorites. […] I love how they have been reported to wield sticks as tools, and somehow make them emit sparks, meaning they must have some kind of magic! Such a quirky and random cryptid.” TThom2007


Michigan Dogman

Wexford County, Michigan

“In the woods of Northwest Lower Michigan there is said to be a bipedal dog creature that has a howl that (conveniently) sounds of a human shriek. It’s so entrenched in local folklore that there is actually a song about it that is played on the radio every year. Also a local filmmaker made a movie about it starring Larry Joe Campbell! It even appeared in episodes of the shows Monster Quest and Monsters and Mysteries in America.” TD24601


Bullebak

Amsterdam, Netherlands

“The Bullebak lives under a bridge across one of the many canals in Amsterdam. Children are told that the Bullebak might come out of its hiding [place] and grab them, so they better behave. The Amsterdam Council, not to be outdone, actually named two bridges after the infamous Bullebak. So a visitor might try out the bridge in the Marnixstraat crossing the picturesque Brouwersgracht canal. Or [they] can choose to admire the view from the bridge to the equally enjoyable Bloemgracht canal, just a bit farther up the same street. Take care though, since the Bullebak seems to have an equally voracious appetite for unwary travelers.” Ben_Bugter


Mogollon Monster

Arizona

“In the mountains of central Arizona we have the Mogollon Monster, a Southwestern variant of Bigfoot. First sighting seems to have been by Boy Scouts in the Payson, Arizona, area in the early 1940s. Other tales involve attacks on prospectors in remote cabins, harassment of campers in the Sierra Ancha, etc. When I was a Scout in the early 1960s, tales of these encounters were told around the campfire to mutually scare the bejeezus out of one another. Good luck getting to sleep in your tent!” — Joe_Schallan


Beast of Bray Road

Elkhorn, Wisconsin

“There are several encounter stories about it, ranging from a dog-like humanoid running across a road to three of the creatures hunched over a watering hole, observed in secret from a distance. The beast seems to be a human-canine hybrid, not a werewolf. It was first reported in 1935 but I don’t know that there has been any activity lately.” Rugglesby


Taniwha

New Zealand

“In New Zealand we have many taniwha. They are beings that live in deep pools in rivers, dark caves, or in the sea, especially in places with dangerous currents or deceptive breakers (giant waves). They may be considered highly respected kaitiaki (protective guardians) of people and places, or in some places as dangerous, predatory beings. They often have a row of spines along their back. Many Pacific peoples from around the South Pacific also have taniwha. I have never seen one but they are taken very seriously here. Even the government takes it seriously. If they are building a new road and a known taniwha is present they will build around it.” — maxbrownnz


Tokoloshe

South Africa

“In South Africa, the Tokoloshi is an evil creature, about a foot high, resembling an evil monkey. Locals believe that raising the bed above the ground will keep you safe. As a kid, I loved climbing onto the beds raised up on bricks or empty paint tins.” martin_9cb0ad49


Bunyip

Australia

“The Bunyip is a First Peoples legend, a creature who generally lives around waterholes and billabongs. Traditionally, they are scary creatures, often translated as “evil spirit,” but there are also stories of friendly bunyips, and almost all kids who grew up here are familiar with the children’s book Alexander Bunyip. There are some theories that it may be based on one of the many megafauna that populated Australia for thousands of years, but it is also likely that it is completely fictional, and related to the many well known Dreamtime stories of our First Peoples that explain the world and its wonders.” — xenchik


Snallygaster

Maryland

“Even though I had grown up in Maryland (Baltimore County), I first learned of the legend of the Snallygaster just a few years ago as its latest incarnation, as a D.C. beer jamboree of the same name. A snallygaster is dragon-like beast that was known to inhabit Central Maryland and the Middletown area of Frederick County out on the Maryland panhandle. It would fly around, quietly snatch people, and was also reputed to use its sharp teeth to suck the blood of its victims. Seven pointed stars—still seen on barns to this day—were thought to keep the beast at bay. There were local newspaper articles about it in 1909, which were later revealed to be a hoax used to drum up subscriptions for the publishing newspaper. The snallygaster even makes an appearance in Fallout 76. […] I’m just glad I never saw it.” — Theomurgy


Bête du Gévaudan

Lozère, France

“In France we had the ‘Bête du Gévaudan,’ the Gevaudan beast. Half-real, half-myth, we are not sure yet of what it was, but learning this story at school in history class got me a bit frightened.” — Enzo_RhodeHagen