10 Lesser Known Cryptids That Could Be Utilised By Writers
My first column (is that what I’m doing here? writing columns?) for the Horror Tree was my list of 10 mythical creatures that I felt were just ripe for using by some wonderfully talented author (https://horrortree.com/top-10-mythical-creatures-that-deserve-their-own-books-or-films/). Now, I don’t know how many people actually bothered to read that column, but some must have because I received a DM over on the Twitter thing suggesting two other creatures for a second list, should I be so inclined.
Wonderful, I thought… except they were not mythological creatures. These were cryptids.
What the…? was the response I received.
Now, I am sure hard-core readers of the paranormal will know the difference. A Cryptid is something that could conceivably exist, based on terrestrial science (such as it is used here). So, an extraterrestrial is not a cryptid, a dragon is not a cryptid, but a bigfoot is a cryptid. One other thing is that evidence of its existence should have been seen, but not everything claimed to have been seen is a cryptid (mothman is an example of this). Cryptids could be creatures out of place, creatures out of time, or creatures that evolution had a field day with.
Does that make sense? Too bad if it doesn’t, I guess, because that’s another essay for another time (and I have indeed written just such an essay about what makes a cryptid a cryptid… sad, I know).
So, this list is about those lesser known cryptids. No lake monsters, no bigfoot-style apemen (even if the Australian Yowie is little known), and no prehistoric creatures. Still, 10 animals for your reading pleasure. Maybe one of these beasts could make an appearance in some-one’s fine work!
- Ahool (also known as Athol)
What is it? A large bat, found primarily on Java (the Indonesian island). Its wingspan is about twelve feet or so and it has a flat face, more like a monkey than a bat. Its cry gives it its name and it is said to feed primarily on fish.
Story concept? Come on, this is essentially a winged monkey. Up the ante and make it decide that feasting on humans is a good idea. And it is huge. Imagine a cloud of these attacking a cruise liner or something like that.
- Artrellia (also known as Papuan Dragon)
What is it? Essentially, an enormous monitor lizard found in Papua New Guinea, up to 30 feet in length and with a venomous bite (which it appears many monitors, including the Komodo dragon, do possess). It attacks by climbing trees and dropping onto prey, which its weight crushes, and it then eats.
Story concept? It was first recorded in the 1930s, and was still being noted in the 1980s. In World War Two, two soldiers were reported as having been eaten by an Artrellia. Set your story back then. Think Predator with killer lizards in a Papua New Guinea jungle in 1944.
- Dobhar-chú (also known as Dobarcu or Doyarchu)
What is it? While a part of Irish folklore, there are cryptozoologists who consider it real – a crocodile-sized dog with the head of an otter, flippers instead of legs and a vicious streak. Sightings have persisted into the twenty-first century.
Story concept? A standard monster tale, set in a remote part of Ireland, with these animals attacking the group of teenagers. Different monsters always make the old tropes better.
What is it? Known from corpses washed up in Gambia, the most notable being in 1983. Four and a half metres long, four flippers, tapered short tail, dolphin like head with more teeth than any dolphin, and nostrils on the end of the snout. It seemed to confirm long-told stories of sea crocodiles in the area.
Story concept? Sea crocodiles? Come on, this writes itself. A whole bask of these things attacking shipping, coastal towns, whatever, and you can’t kill all of them, wipe out an entire species… can you?
What is it? Reported as recently as 2011, this is a winged possum with horns and protruding fangs, possibly omnivorous, found in the Catlins in the south of New Zealand’s South Island.
Story concept? Killer possums? A part of the world not completely explored, with very little human habitation? This thing writes itself!
What is it? Found in many countries in southern Africa, this swamp-dwelling creature is a bipedal lizard that shows human traits, including weapon usage.
Story concept? This is a real-live lizard-man, living in the swamps of southern Africa! Not a dinosaur remnant, but a highly evolved reptile. How advanced is their civilisation? How long have they been there? Do they pre-date humans? How much of human history was influenced by them? Did humans drive them into the swamps? The possibilities are endless.
What is it? Seen in the Republic of the Congo and other sites in western Africa, this is an enormous eagle, with a wingspan of four metres or more (to give context, the largest known eagle wingspan is 2.5 metres, Stellar’s sea eagle, but a wedge-tailed eagle in Australia was measured at 2.8 metres), that is known for eating monkeys. Its claws and talons are comparable in size to a man’s arm and hand.
Story concept? A legitimate huge bird, known for eating monkeys. What if, due to man’s interference, they run out of monkeys? And humans are just there? Who would believe (to paraphrase Lindy Chamberlain), “An eagle stole my baby!”?
- Peel Street Monster
What is it? In the 1930s, in Wolverhampton, England, this creature appeared, attacking and biting children – a four foot long rat. Extremely aggressive, the people kicked it to death. But where there’s one…
Story Concept? Four foot long rats living in populated areas of England. Think about that. Not the rats in the walls of Lovecraft or the creatures in any of James Herbert’s vermin-themed books, but real large rats in large cities attacking people in broad daylight. To tell the truth, the idea of this gives me the willies. And I live in Australia where 90% of the wildlife actively tries to kill you.
What is it? First seen in the 1920s off the coast of South Africa, two whales were fighting this thing. It’s the size of a whale, covered in white fur and with a long, flexible trunk. Its carcass was subsequently washed up on the shore, measuring 47 feet in length. 10 years later, a smaller one was washed up on the Alaskan coast.
Story concept? What is it? How many are out there? Is it good or bad or just an animal? Should it be hunted or studied? So many story arcs open up with this strange, unknown sea creature.
What is it? Known to Westerners as the giant shrieking centipede. About a foot long, pale green, living in Sumatra and with a very painful, venomous bite. But it also makes a loud call or shriek, sounding somewhat like a cat in distress. It has been reported all the way into the twenty-first century.
Story concept? There are not many arthropod cryptids, so having one that could be poisonous, living on a jungle-covered island could surely open up for some-one to have fun with. Next to nothing is known about them. How many offspring do they have? How often do they breed? What are their predators? If you took one away from Sumatra and its predators, how soon before they overtook a city? As a writer – go for it!
So, there you have it. 10 creatures that cryptozoologists legitimately believe could well be living out there in the wide world, and which could be perfect for a creature feature story, screenplay, film or whatever other form of art you want to go for. All of them have some great possibilities for narrative; it’s up to the creators to take the ball and run with it.
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S.Gepp is an Australian who has been writing for a number of years primarily in the horror, fantasy, sci-fi and humour genres. Tertiary educated, former acrobat and professional wrestler, a father of two and well past 40 years old, he hopes to be a real writer when he grows up.
His latest book is available here: https://www.amazon.com/Sins-Fathers-S-Gepp-ebook/dp/B07XBDP2RF/.