On a rational level, most of us are aware there are no such things as monsters. But find yourself alone on a dark country road late one night, and you might find yourself having an unexpected change of heart. The following cryptids all have one thing in common: none of them can be reliably said to exist. But read the eyewitness testimony of frightened locals and listen to the circumstantial evidence, and you may just find yourself believing in monsters all over again. The Beast of Dartmoor (UK) Dartmoor may be the closest Britain has to an untamed wilderness. A vast desert of windswept rocks, fog-shrouded peat bogs and isolated villages, it feels like the perfect setting for an otherworldly horror film. All of which may go some way toward explaining the legend of the Beast of Dartmoor. Allegedly a giant cat or family of giant cats that were turned loose when the UK government passed the 1976 Dangerous Animals Act, the Beast has been sighted on-and-off for decades. Most locals have at least one story of encountering a giant paw print or a sheep killed and eaten in a particularly gruesome manner. And thanks to the sheer size and inhospitable nature of Dartmoor, proving or disproving the creature’s existence has proved impossible. So, is there a large, wild cat roaming the British southwest? It’s not as unlikely as you may think. In 1903 a wild Canadian lynx was shot and killed outside Newton Abbot, a town on the very fringes of the moor. Did it leave behind a family to terrify future locals? Who knows? Bigfoot (USA) Legends of ape-like wildmen living in the dense forests of the Pacific Northwest have been around for centuries, but none have been quite so prevalent as Bigfoot (aka Sasquatch). A shambling, Gorilla-like creature featured in one of the most-famous pieces of film ever shot, Bigfoot has been debunked more times than the JFK conspiracy. Yet still the sightings keep on coming. Every year across the United States, dozens of people who you’d assume had no reason to lie report strange encounters with these creatures. In 2007 an on-duty Californian cop claimed to have seen a 7 foot tall biped shambling through the undergrowth. In 2011, a Virginia farmer announced he’d startled and nearly been killed by one outside his family home. There are even honest-to-God scientists – experts in the field of anthropology – who are convinced the creature exists. At times you almost have to wonder if it’s the Bigfoot fanatics who are ignoring the evidence, or the rest of us. The Yeti (Himalayas) If you were to wander deep into the frozen wastes of the Himalayas, you might just encounter a creature beyond your strangest nightmares. Known as the Yeti, this bipedal creature has popped up in local folklore since time immemorial. There’s evidence that it was known to pre-Buddhist tribes in Tibet, while early Western explorers reported everything from hearing howls in the far distance to seeing terrifying footprints. Its legions of believers have included everyone from Jimmy Stewart to Brian Blessed… and there’s a chance they may just be right. Although it sounds incredible, in 2013 scientific evidence emerged that an unknown species was indeed stalking this forbidding mountain range. After DNA testing a Yeti hair, British scientists concluded it came from a previously undiscovered sub-species of brown bear – one that could have genetic links with ancient polar bears. It may not quite be the Abominable Snowman of legend, but it shows there are still corners of this world yet to be explored. 6 more via Urban Ghosts.
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