Contrary to popular belief, cryptids don’t have to be supernatural, mythical or even all that strange — though many popular creatures acquire these characteristics as their legends grow. In truth, the field of cryptozoology covers everything from scientifically plausible but poorly documented animals to demon-like monsters seen only in dark forests and shaky video footage. The term ‘cryptid’ can be applied to any of the following categories of unknown beasts:
Creatures from myth and legend
Supposedly supernatural or paranormal entities
Extinct creatures said to still inhabit specific areas
Known animals in areas they are not known to inhabit
Known animals of an unusual size or appearance
Animals that don’t resemble any known species
Known hoaxes, whether taxidermy, Photoshop, false accounts or otherwise
In general, a creature is a cryptid when there is some evidence for its existence — whether it’s photographic evidence, footprints, remains or even an eyewitness account. When irrefutable evidence of a creature’s existence is found, it ceases to be a cryptid and moves into the realms of science. While rare, this has happened a few times — think the platypus, or the okapi (known as the ‘African Unicorn’), both strange animals that were once considered to be hoaxes by Western scientists. Even the famous Komodo dragon was once thought to be a myth.
Hominids run the gamut from humanoid to giant apes, a category that is strangely over-represented in cryptozoology. Some of the best known cryptids in the world like Bigfoot and the Himalayan Yeti are hominids, but their human-like forms only add to the controversy around their existence. Many hominid cryptids are linked with ‘wild men’ legends, commonly found in the folklore of both indigenous populations and Western societies worldwide. Bigfoot is a North American cryptid, also called the Sasquatch after the name of a ‘wild man’ type creature in the local Halkomelem language. Stories of wild men are particularly common among indigenous populations of America’s Pacific Northwest, and Bigfoot researchers claim that the distribution of these tales follow the same areas as later sightings of the creature by white men.
The Dover Demon is a small humanoid reported from Dover, Massachusetts. It was the subject of an intensive scare during the 1970s, when multiple witnesses came forward with their sightings. The Dover Demon is described as looking sort of like the "gray" variety of alien, except that it has skin of a rosy orange instead of sickly gray. The Dover Demon has a large head on a small, stick-like body. It can be bipedal, but it often travels on all fours or switches back and forth between the two modes of locomotion. It has eyes that glow, sometimes orange, sometimes green.
Rougarou or Loup Garou (loup meaning wolf, and garou meaning a man who turns into an animal) is a shape-shifting monster that lives in the swamps of Lousiana. Rougarou is actually the Michif word for werewolf. It is like a werewolf, but it can turn into wolf form any time. This is what makes the Rougarou much more dangerous. Cajun folklore says that it stalks the swamps of Acadiana and Greater New Orleans.