You might have heard of the Loch Ness Monster of Scotland and the abominable snowman of the Himalayas, but the U.S. also has its own share of “monsters.” Here are some of the most popular ones.
Location: Northern California, Oregon, Washington, other states
What it might really be: Apes, hoaxes
Bigfoot or Sasquatch is seen in forests of the Pacific Northwest, but “relatives” have also been spotted in Florida, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas.
Ranging from 4 to 8 feet tall, these elusive creatures are reported to eat plants and roots, and almost never harm people. They’re often poorly photographed, but there’s no hard evidence of their existence.
Location: Atlantic and Pacific oceans, Gulf of Mexico, Great Lakes
What it might really be: Oarfish, sharks, whales, flock of birds, driftwood
As long as mariners have sailed the oceans, tales of sea serpents have been told. Although many of these creatures have now been identified, some strange cases remain. Among them, on Feb. 5, 1985, brothers Bill and Bob Clark claim to have seen a 60-foot serpent swimming among seals in San Francisco Bay.
Location: Southern Texas, Puerto Rico
What it might really be: Coyotes with skin disease
Spanish for “goat sucker,” many people claim to have seen the chupacabra and/or photographed it and, in at least one case, to have frozen its carcass. While there’s
little doubt that something is attacking goats and chickens, most evidence suggests the animal is a common coyote with a skin disease that gives it a bizarre appearance.
Location: Lake Champlain in New York and Vermont
What it might really be: Misidentifications of common animals, hoaxes
With well over 300 reported sightings of Champ during recent years, some believe it might be a plesiosaur similar to “Nessie.” Like Loch Ness, Lake Champlain is more than 400 feet deep. Champ believers claim both lakes support fish populations large enough to feed a beast. Scientists cite the fact that plesiosaurs died out about 65 million years ago.
Location: New Jersey Pine Barrens
What it might really be: Folklore, humans
With origins dating back to the 1600s, the Jersey Devil is described as “having the head of a goat, small arms with claws, leathery batlike wings, horns, hooves like a horse and a bloodcurdling scream.” Rewards have been offered for its capture, but none have been claimed. According to one outdoorsman who had covered himself with mud to fend off mosquitoes, a group of people saw him and ran away, and later claimed to have sighted the Jersey Devil.
Location: Point Pleasant, West Virginia
What it might really be: Unidentified flying object, traditional folk story
People who said they saw Mothman in 1966 claimed the 7-foot-tall winged creature with glaring red eyes gave them dreams about the collapse of Silver Bridge, which later occurred, killing 46 people. There have been few sightings in recent years, and most folklorists say Mothman is just a “localized urban myth” with no basis in fact.
THE MONTAUK MONSTER
Location: Montauk, Long Island, New York
What it might really be: A raccoon, dog, cat or rodent
The Montauk Monster was found dead on a beach in July 2008. Photos fueled speculation about the creature, including that it could be a mutant from nearby Plum Island Animal Disease Center. But we’ll never know for sure: By the end of July, the animal disappeared from the beach and has not been seen since.
Location: Western U.S.
What it might really be: Eagles, other birds
Legends of this amazing bird go back to Native American tribes that carved it on totem poles and sang of its great power and strength. The thunderbird was seen as battling the enemies of humanity and creating lightning storms by flapping its wings. In recent times, thunderbirds have reportedly been sighted and even accused of abducting animals.