Region of origin: Point Pleasant, West Virginia
Starting in November of 1966 in the area near Point Pleasant, there were numerous reported sightings of a large creature, black or dark brown in color with large glowing red eyes, with descriptions ranging from humanoid to a massive bird to something in-between. Most were just sightings but one couple said it chased their car down the road, keeping pace with them even as they reached speeds of 100 mile per hour. These sightings carried on for thirteen months, accompanied by phenomena like illness in witnesses, animal mutilation, technological malfunctions. One of the most widely-corroborated cryptid sightings, in all there were over one hundred people who had claimed they had seen the creature or otherwise experienced strange anomalous incidents that would get tied into the investigation. The sightings continued but slowed, and largely stopped around the same time as the collapse of the Silver Bridge into the Ohio River in December 1967, a tragic event that resulted in 46 deaths, for which many believe the presence of the strange creature had functioned as a omen or warning, and has since led to claims of similar creatures showing up in the time preceding other large disasters. Origins attributed to the creature range from the demonic to the extraterrestrial, or that West Virginia itself may just be a supernatural hotspot where reality is thin and extra-dimensional creatures like a Mothman may more easily slip through. Alternatively, many also write off the sightings as large bird such as a sandhill crane or maybe a giant owl obscured by the darkness, and connecting all the events leading up to the bridge’s collapse being a form of mass hysteria and apophenia fueled by Mothman coverage in the local papers. Imagined or not, Mothman remains a popular celebrity for Point Pleasant, receiving a statue and an annual festival in the city in 2002. Based on my research, I’m pretty sure everyone on the internet wants to date him.
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Region of origin: Greece
The harpies or harpyiai were half-women, half-bird creatures thought to be the personification of strong winds. They became associated with the underworld and meting out punishments, sent at the bidding of Zeus to attack or harangue people who had somehow offended the god, or people who had disappeared suddenly were thought to have been carried away by harpies to face the Erinyes. Earlier depictions described the harpies as beautiful maidens but over time their reputation worsened and they were increasingly described as ugly, vulturous beings. In Dante’s Inferno, the harpies made their home in a tree in the seventh ring of Hell and tormented the souls who resided there.
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The Ratman of Southend
Region of origin: Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England
The sound of nails scraping along the walls of an underpass in Southend may be a sign the Ratman is near. The urban legend tells of a homeless man who retreated to the underpass for the night, only to be accosted by a group of drunken teens who beat him and left him to a slow and painful death, still calling for help as a hungry pack of rats descended upon him and ate his face. His spirit remained to haunt the underpasses, access-ways and sewers, assuming a grotesque, rat-like form and attacking any who enter his domain. An alternate version of the tale tells of a previous mayor of Southend having an affair resulting in a child, and as a cosmic punishment for his infidelity the son was born with the appearance of a half-man, half-rat monster, who was then abandoned to the sewers and grew up into a dangerous feral man-beast.
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Region of origin: Arctic areas of North America
“Shadow people” of Inuit mythology, the tariaksuq are a race of beings, similar in nature to Iceland’s huldufolk, who lead comparable lives to the human societies they coexist alongside, but on a different plane of perception. They can never be directly observed and become invisible or formless when looked upon by a person, they or their shadows only ever caught as glimpses in the corner of one’s eye. They share this quality of obfuscation with the ijiraq, a malevolent spirit who hunts humans in the arctic forests, and the two have come to be thought of interchangeably, although the tariaksuq have been described as a half-human, half-caribou while the ijiraq is a shape-shifter taking on various animal forms at will. A tariaksuq may be rendered visible to humans after it has been killed.
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Region of origin: Thaton, Myanmar
The manussiha, literally a compound word meaning “man-lion”, was a guardian creature with the upper body of a man and the split lower haunches of two lions. It was said that every time a child was born inside the palace of the golden lands of Suvarnabhumi, believed in Myanmar to exist near the modern-day city of Thaton, demons would rise from the sea and besiege the city to kidnap and eat the child. This continued until Buddhist monks Sona and Uttara arrived as the queen was giving birth, and the two monks created the manussiha, monstrous and twice the size of the attacking demons, to scare them off and protect the city. Since then, the image of the manussiha has since been used to ward off danger, and statues of the creature are placed at the four corners of some Buddhist shrines and stupas facing outward for similar protections. They are also known by the Sanskrit or Pali word narasimha, also meaning man-lion, but as this term is alternatively used for an avatar of Vishnu some people not wishing to conflate the god with these monsters will use the word rakkhasimha, or “demon-lion”, instead.
Region of origin: China
Niútóu, or literally “Ox-Head”, is one of two guardians to Diyu, the Chinese underworld, accompanied by Horse-Face, who assist Yan Luo, the god of death and ruler of the underworld. They will meet newly-arrived souls at the entrance and escort those who had sinned to Yan Luo for judgement, then to the sites of their punishments, in some versions helping mete out the torture themselves. Stories differ on whether or not Ox-Head and Horse-Face are two individuals, or simply two classes of numerous underworld demons. In the early Chinese novel Journey To The West, Ox-Head and Horse-Face are dispatched by Yan Lao to capture Sun Wukong and his party and bring their souls to Diyu.
Originally posted on Tumblr on November 23, 2016
Region of origin: West Virginia, United States
Also known as “the White Thing,” the Sheepsquatch, so nicknamed for its shaggy white fur and horns, is a large creature spotted several times in the West Virginian wilderness since the mid-Nineties up until as recently as last year. It has been alternatively described as humanoid or bear-like, switching between bipedal and quadrupedal locomotion. Most sightings usually involved the creature investigating campers or stumbling across hikers and being startled rather than aggressive, retreating into the deeper woods, often accompanied by a terrible, loud screaming, though there have been the odd encounter where it turned aggressive or did a fair amount of damage to a campsite during its examination.
Originally posted on Tumblr on June 30, 2016