We all know the big ones. Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, Mothman. A good creepy story about a twisted, gangly figure sitting in the shadows has always captured the imagination, sending a chill up many a spine.
These popular names aren’t the end-all that be-all when it comes to cryptids, though. A cryptid straddles the line between a mythological creature and simply an animal with no conclusive proof it exists. Bigfoot isn’t meant to be magical or something supernatural; he’s a big monkey whose existence has never been proven. That’s all it takes. The Griggstown Cow was a cryptid, after all, and that was literally just a cow someone had lost track of.
With a net that wide, ranging from mistaken identity to literal legend, there are far more things to have entered the modern mythological catalog than you would ever believe. So here are 10 stories of obscure cryptids.
10 The Fjörulalli
Let’s start off small. The fjörulalli, or the beach walker as I’ll now be calling him—for the sake of me writing this and you pronouncing it—hails from Iceland.
Looking like the lovechild of a beaver and a pug, this odd creature could be seen wandering the coasts of Iceland, often being mixed up for a dog or similar animal at a distance. Creepily, myths around this one take a strange turn where it’s described as having a perverted thing for sheep, often producing odd hybrids. Maybe I hit a little too close to home with that “lovechild” joke.
Tales of it never really broke out of Iceland, with it being somewhat mundane and with most simply writing sightings off as being a sea otter.
9 The Pouakai, Haast’s Eagle
A funny entry here from New Zealand is the pouakai. However, it could honestly be called a former cryptid, as it was actually ironed out as a real bird, potentially the largest species of eagle to have ever existed: Haast’s eagle.
At one point, these creatures, standing nearly 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall and with a wingspan of almost 7 feet (2.1 meters), straddled the line of legend. They appeared in Maori myth as a man-eating monster that could swoop down from high and snatch up other creatures in its immense claws.
Unfortunately, the reason you’ve never heard of them is straightforward in a very grim way. The pouakai was a major victim of overhunting, being driven to extinction. The last potential sighting of these amazing birds came from one Charles Edward Douglas, an explorer from the 1800s. Douglas described them as “immense raptors” whose scale and stature could “scarcely be believed.”
Shortly after seeing them for the first time, Douglas shot and ate both specimens. Thanks, Charlie.
8 The Adjulé
From Mauritania in western Africa comes the adjulé. A creepier cryptid of the canine variety, this desert dog is suspected to be a rare or very out-of-place breed of wolf.
At first glance, there seems to be nothing too special about these creatures, with many writing them off as an offshoot of African wild dogs. However, this doesn’t hold up to a world of scrutiny, as these sightings, starting in the early ’90s, often placed them in the deserts of the Sahara, far from where those dogs would roam.
So if these mysterious mutts bounding across open sands strike up questions, why no fuss? Well, to put it simply, if you throw a stone at a shelf of cryptids, you’re liable to find a story of mistaken doggy identity. Wolves and dogs are everywhere, in all shapes and sizes, and prefer to move at night. They’re mistaken for a new and mysterious breed throughout history, and without something to add that extra touch of panache, the adjulé is just one more weird wolf to add to the pile.
7 The Ohio Grassman
Taking a turn back into weirder territory, we have the Grassman of Ohio, USA. This creature walks on two legs, looks a little like a great ape, and is often seen coated in green slime and… you guessed it, grass.
Sightings obviously trend toward being blamed on other large animals or even just people seen at a distance in poor lighting. You know the drill with this sort of thing.
As for why he’s more obscure, well, as any amount of research into our big green friend will tell you, he’s just another bigfoot, albeit with a new vogue color palette.
6 The Akhlut
From the northern Arctic tundra, we have the akhlut. More legend than anything else, this is the bizarre combination of a wolf and a killer whale or an orca.
Beginning as a shapeshifter in Inuit folklore, this creature was first thought up as a shapeshifter, the idea stemming from where the pawprints of wolves in the snow would stop abruptly on reaching the sea. Stories cropped up about something that would change from wolf to whale to continue its hunt.
After a point, when Westerners picked up on the legend, this was confused into a creature that’s both at once, quite literally a four-legged whale monster.
Skepticism abounded, and any hopes as to the creature’s validity quickly fell apart when those mysteriously ending pawprints were put down to ice breaking apart and drifting away, cutting the tracks of wolves in two.
5 Guai Wu, the Lake Tianchi Monster
About as obscure as we can get from a Western perspective, this involves a trip to Heaven Lake between China and North Korea. Big, aggressive, seal-like creatures, all in grey, wallow about in their volcanic lake home.
With sightings reaching as far back as 1903, the creature or creatures are said to be huge “buffalo” sized things that have been known to attack people before usually being scared off.
The language barrier is the obvious reason news of this one never got far afield. However, it’s quite a popular tale in its local region. It’s a regular Loch Ness, just for a whole other culture.
4 Air Rods
Rods are a worldwide phenomenon based on strange optical illusions. Typically, when a picture is taken in a certain way, fast-moving, small objects like insects get stretched out in the final product.
When this comes together, they give the impression of long, bumpy living creatures that only appear in still images. Thus, the theory of the “rod” was born.
It’s a doozy why you’ve never heard of this one. Rods are a very technical thing; hardcore cryptid fans are really the only people who pick up on them, and they’re just a wee bit too easy to explain to go mainstream.
3 Devil Birds
Screaming through from Sri Lanka comes the devil bird, something halfway between folklore and simple wildlife. This owl cryptid made its way into local lore for one simple reason. It’s noisy, really, really noisy.
With detailed reports going back hundreds of years, locals reported banshee-like cries at night, linking them to oncoming death.
As for why he’s on the obscure side for such an ominous myth, we can put that down to the cries and, indeed, the rare sightings of the bird matching some of the local wildlife. After all, no matter how you spin it, it is just an owl with a very noisy nightlife.
2 The Skrimsl
And we’re back to where we started. For such a small country, Iceland’s got a lot of myths to go around. And that’s not getting started on all the sightings of elves—that is another list altogether.
The skrimsl has been reported several times, but one particular sighting in 1862 made for a detailed description. Over 40 feet (12.2 meters) long with a bulbous body with no flippers or fins, it’s like an amphibious snake crossed with a seal.
While it’s more than likely that the group of farmers who reported this was simply seeing some seals playing in the water, Alfred Newton, the man who took their testimony, found it oddly detailed. While this sighting was particularly vivid and detailed, with multiple witnesses backing each other up, it was one of very few, consigning its odd appearance to an obscure track record.
1 Deep Sea Abominable Snowman
No, you read that right. This is as obscure and odd as it gets, and I feel almost lucky that I stumbled across this while researching for this list.
In 1968, Bruce Mounier, a diver based in Miami, described his experience of testing a new diving suit. The only thing I can really do is quote you his words directly from the journey and let the image come to mind.
“I went lower to get a good look. It turned and looked at me at a 20° angle. It had a monkey’s face with its head protruding out in front… it rotated its neck like a snake as it watched me. The eyes were like that of a human being but enlarged. It looked like the face of a monkey with specially adapted eyes for underwater vision. When it got a good look at me, it took off—using some form of propulsion that came from underneath.”
Mounier describes his experience, saying that he was certain it was no creature that had yet been recorded. In a disturbing summary that belies the amusing title, he said, “I think it is some unidentified species. It may be a newly developed one or a very old one we haven’t seen before.
Given that this bizarre encounter is the only testimony we have of the Deap Sea Snowman’s existence, that should explain why you’ve definitely never heard of it.