Monday, 16 October 2017

Minor/Major Project: Creatures and Cryptids Research

Europe Based:
  • Spring-heeled Jack: Spring-heeled Jack is an entity in English folklore of the Victorian era. People claimed he often had the appearance of a gentleman, but could breathe blue smoke and jump extraordinary heights. He is also described as being very tall and skinny, with clawed hands and red eyes. Sightings of him largely began in London, but began to move around the UK, eventually reaching as far as Scotland.

  • Black Shuck: A ghostly black dog which is said to roam the coastline and countryside of East Anglia. The dog is described as horse sized, having shaggy black fur and large saucer-like eyes that are either red or green. By some, the dog is considered an omen of death, with either the person who witnessed it dying or someone close to them. For others, the dog works as a companion, helping and guarding women as they walk home and aiding lost travelers.
Black Shuck allegedly entered the Holy Trinity church in Blythburgh in 1577, killing two of the church's occupants and leaving scorch marks on the church door (seen below, left).

More recently, the remains of a large dog (above, right) were found among the ruins of Leiston Abbey in Suffolk. The dog would have been male, and around seven feet long. Archaeologists date the burial back to the 16th century, around the time sightings of Black Shuck started being reported.

  • Loch Ness Monster: The Loch Ness Monster (Nessie) is an aquatic being which reputedly inhabits Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. It is described as being large in size, with a long neck and humps protruding from the water (seeing as the word "monster" wasn't added to the creature's title until 1933, Adelaide will refer to it as "The Beast of Loch ness").
    Portrayals of the creature often resemble the Cryptoclidus, an aquatic reptile of the middle Jurassic period.

  • Fae folk: a type of mythical being or legendary creature in European folklore, a form of spirit. The term "fairy" can include gnomes, pixies, goblins, leprechauns and sprites, and fae folk are often described as mischievous and sometimes evil. Other stories of fae suggest they are willing to help people or grant them wishes in return for gifts and offerings. Fae are also known to steal small items, and can be particularly malicious. Though they would often take on the appearance of small people, it was also believed they could take on the forms of animals (usually deer).

  • Dobhar-chú: a creature of Irish folklore and a cryptid. Dobhar-chú is roughly translated into "water hound". It resembles both a dog and an otter though sometimes is described as a half dog, half fish.
    The most recent sighting was in 2003, where the creature was seen on Omey Island in Connemara, County Galway. It was described as large and dark with orange flipper-like feet, could swim very fast and made a screeching noise. 

  • Gargoyle:  It is believed that they were used to ward of evil and to act as guardians of the church to keep evil spirits away. They usually have the appearance of grotesque humans or dragon-like creatures, though can also just be real animals, like lions.

  • Bukavac: a creature in Slavic mythology, sometimes imagined as a six-legged monster with gnarled horns. It lives in lakes and pools, coming out of the water during the night to make loud noises (buka = noise), jump onto people and animals, and strangle them.

  • Leshy: The Leshy is a Slavic forest deity who protects wild animals and forests. It usually appears as a tall man, but is able to change size. He has hair and a beard made from grass and vines, is missing a right ear and is sometimes depicted with a tail, hooves, and horns (much like the pagan god Pan). He also has pale white skin that contrasts with his bright green eyes. The Leshy is known to have a close bond with wolves and bears, often being surrounded by these animals. It is also believed they have blue blood, making their cheeks blue.

US Based:
  • Wendigo: a mythical cannibal monster or evil spirit native to the northern forests of the Atlantic Coast and Great Lakes Region of the United States and Canada. It can appear as a monster with human characteristics, or as a spirit who has possessed a human being. It is historically associated with cannibalism, murder, insatiable greed.

  • Jackalope: The jackalope is a mythical animal of North American folklore (a fearsome critter) described as a jackrabbit with antelope horns. One of the alleged ways to catch a jackalope is to entice it with whiskey, the jackalope's beverage of choice. According to legend, jackalopes can imitate human voices. During the days of the Old West, when cowboys gathered by the campfires singing at night, jackalopes could be heard mimicking their voices or singing along.

  • Jersey Devil: the Jersey Devil is a legendary creature said to inhabit the Pine Barrens of Southern New Jersey. It's described as being kangaroo-like creature with the head of a goat, bat-like wings, horns, clawed hands, hooves and a forked tail. It has been reported to move quickly and often is described as emitting a "blood-curdling scream". It has also been said that the creature glows, can breathe fire or spit poison, and, like many cryptids, has red eyes.

Australia Based:
  • Bunyip: The bunyip is a large mythical creature from Australian Aboriginal mythology, said to lurk in swamps, billabongs, creeks, riverbeds, and waterholes. Common descriptions of the creature include a dog-like face, a crocodile like head, dark fur, a horse-like tail, flippers, and walrus-like tusks or horns or a duck-like bill, though it is believed to be a spirit that can take many forms.

Asia Based:
  • Yali: mythical creatures seen in many Hindu temples, often sculpted onto the pillars. Often has a cat-like body, but the head of a lion with tusks of an elephant and tail of a serpent. Other depictions suggest it has the head of an elephant, horse, human or dog and griffin-like wings. These mythical creatures are believed to protect temples.

  • Manticore ("man-eater"): The manticore is a Persian legendary creature similar to the Egyptian sphinx. It has the body of a lion, a human head with sharp teeth, and a scorpion tail. The manticore can shoot poisonous spines that paralyze its victims, before swallowing them whole, leaving nothing behind.

  • Tikbalang: The Tikbalang is a creature of Philippine folklore said to lurk in the mountains and forests of the Philippines. It is a tall, bony humanoid creature with the head and hooves of a horse and disproportionately long limbs, to the point that its knees reach above its head when it squats down. Tikbalangs are known to scare travelers, lead them astray and playing tricks on them. This can apparently be prevented by wearing one's shirt inside out or asking permission out loud to pass by or, being as quiet as possible while in the woods in order not to offend or disturb the tikbalang. It's believed they keep to dark, sparsely populated areas.

  • Yeti: an ape-like entity, 8-10 feet tall, that is said to inhabit the Himalayan region of Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet. The names Yeti and Meh-Teh are commonly used by the people indigenous to the region, and are part of their history and mythology. In Buddhist mythology, the Yetis were peaceful creatures, that were very shy, and lived in dense snow caves on the glaciers which form the Ganges River in India, though other depictions of the creatures tend to lean towards the malicious.

  • Dragons: A dragon is a legendary creature, typically scaled or fire-spewing and with serpentine, reptilian or avian traits, that features in the myths of many cultures around world. Asian dragons are usually more serpent-like than European dragons, that have shorter bodies and more lizard-like qualities. 

Africa Based:
  • Man-Eating Tree: A carnivorous tree large enough to eat humans and large animals. Descriptions of the trees vary, but artwork shows them to tons of writhing vines to capture victims.

  • J'ba Fofi: a cryptozoological creature that is said to exist in the Congo, possibly representing a new species of arachnid. The spiders are described as weaving lairs made of leaves and spinning a circular web between two trees. The animals are said to prey upon birds and other small game animals.

Jamaica Based
  • Rolling calf: A huge, calf-like creature which rolls along the road, blocking the way of night-time travellers, and chasing them with a wicked intention. It has blazing red eyes that gash fire, and a chain that it drags behind it, making an unnerving clanking noise. To escape a rolling calf, the victim can do a number of things - drop objects for it to count (most supernatural creatures in Jamaican folklore can be escaped in this way), get to a cross roads (road junction) before it, open a pen knife and stick it in the ground. They are believed to be the spirits of people (particularly butchers) who were wicked and dishonest during their lifetimes.

  • River Mumma: a female water spirit who is said to guard Jamaica’s rivers. Legend has it that she sits on the banks of the river combing her long hair, and leaves her comb on the rock to entice victims who she then draws into the water.

  • Mer: A mermaid is a legendary aquatic creature with the head and upper body of a female human and the tail of a fish. Stories of merpeople exist all over the world, and often portray mermaids as malevolent creatures who seduce pirates and sailors in order to drag them to the bottom of the ocean.

  • Kraken (also Leviathan): a legendary sea monster of giant size that is said to dwell off the coasts of Norway and Greenland. Since the late 18th century, kraken have been depicted mainly as large octopus-like creatures. In the earlier descriptions, they were more crab-like and often possessed traits that are associated with whales rather than giant squid. Some noted behaviours of kraken resemble undersea volcanic activity occurring in the Iceland region, including bubbles of water and sudden, dangerous currents.

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