THERE ARE CREATURES that lurk out there in the dark, that haunt the isolated forests of the world, that hide in the icy depths of the deepest lakes. They appear unexpectedly and inexplicably, then vanish just as mysteriously, usually leaving witnesses dumbfounded, frightened and, unfortunately in most cases, without a shred of evidence. Yet the eyewitness stories of these creatures persist, haunting the darkness as well as our imaginations. Here, for your consideration (and in no particular order) are the top 10 most mysterious, unexplained creatures of all time. Some are more likely to really exist than others, but we'll leave that judgment up to you.
1. Bigfoot / Sasquatch / Yeti
These hairy apemen are probably the most consistently witnessed unknown creatures in the world. Whether they are called Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Yeti, Skunk Ape or Yowie, they have been seen in isolated woodlands and mountain areas in virtually every corner of the globe. And the descriptions - from the North American northwest to Florida to Australia - are remarkably consistent:
- taller than an average man (seven to eight feet)
- covered with long brown or auburn hair (or white hair in the case of the Yeti)
- a strong, repugnant odor
- large feet, as evidenced by castings of footprints
- an aversion to man
- a piercing, eerie howl
The vast number of sightings, many by highly reliable witnesses, gives Bigfoot, in my estimation, the best likelihood of being a real creature as yet unknown to science. But what is it? A missing link? Some ancient relative of humans that somehow has survived in the wilderness? An unknown species of ape?
We may find out someday soon. Sightings seem to be on the increase as mankind encroaches deeper and deeper on the wilderness. And technology may aid in the search. The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization recently announced its intention to place motion-triggered digital webcams in various areas of US forest where the hairy beast has been seen. This 24-hour surveillance with potentially thousands of computer-based witnesses looking on will dramatically increase the chances of obtaining credible evidence.
For the diehard skeptic, nothing less than a captured specimen will do - or at least some other tangible evidence. And one that could qualify has recently emerged: an impression of Bigfoot's butt. No kidding. Researchers in the American northwest have found what appears to be the impression in the ground of where a large hairy primate has sat. Hey, he's got to rest those big feet sometime.
2. Loch Ness Monster (and other Lake monsters)
Despite excellent expeditions with sophisticated electronic equipment, the lake monsters of the world continue to elude scientists. Yet spontaneous sightings by good witnesses, although rare, persist.
The Loch Ness monster, or Nessie, is undoubtedly the most well-known of these aquatic mysteries. But other deep, cold lakes around the world have their own legendary beasts: Chessie in Chesapeake Bay, Storsie in Sweden's Lake StorsjÃ¶n, Selma in Norway's Lake Seljordsvatnet and "Champ" in New York's Lake Champlain among others.
Descriptions of this creature, too, are amazingly similar:
- a large creature with a long neck
- a horse-like head
- a humped back
Most sightings report the humps protruding from the surface of the water (which skeptics dismiss as being almost anything, from schools of fish to floating logs), but occasionally a lucky witness will see the creature stretch its neck high above the water and look around a bit before submerging.
Photo and video evidence is rare. And although some of the photos are tantalizing (most notably the famous "flipper" photo taken by the Rines expedition in 1975), most such "proof" is fuzzy or inconclusive at best.
If the creature does exist, many researchers suspect that it could be a kind of plesiosaur - an animal from the age of the dinosaurs that is thought to have become extinct more than 66 million years ago. Could a lineage of these incredible creatures possibly have survived?
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