When it comes to cryptozoology, the big names get most of the attention – Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, el Chupacabra – but this is just the tip of the strange creature iceberg. The world is filled with creatures that science has yet to classify for one reason or another and here are a selection of other lesser-known cryptids we share a planet with.
The Buru could very well be a creature that science hasn’t categorised because it recently became extinct. It is spoke of by the tribes of the Apa Tani and Jiro Valleys of Assam, India and describe it as a large crocodile-like creature. Some sightings state it is between 11 and 13 feet long with a snout, four limbs and a tail around five foot long. It lacks the scales of a crocodile, rather having a smooth skin that is blue and white in colour. The creature also had a powerful bellow that could be heard over considerable distances when it raised its head above the water.
The locals were so sick of dealing with the Buru that they set about destroying it by destroying its swamp habitat. The last one was said to have died out in the 1940s, though some people believe it may have simply moved to a new location. The Daily Mail even sponsored an expedition in 1948 to try to find one but there was no proof found. Cryptids expert Dr Karl Shuker believes that the creature may even be a species of giant lungfish.
By its name, the Dingonek sounds like some weird long-necked type of wild dog but the description of an explorer who shot one in 1907 was more like a giant walrus crossed with a snake. John Alfred Jordan was exploring the River Maggori region of Kenya when he happened across a giant scale-covered creature that was around 18 feet long and had reptilian claws. It also had a spotted back, a long tail and a head that was out of proportion to its body with curved, walrus-like tusks.
The natives of the region were well aware of the strange creature’s present and added that it had a scorpion-like tail that was able to kill fierce animals such as hippos and crocodiles that came close to it. And there is even a cave painting in the Brackfontein Ridge in South Africa that appears to show the exact same creature, showing that at one time, perhaps the Dingonek had a far large range.
The Mokele-mbembe is a creature of the Congo River basin and is somewhat similar to the descriptions of the Loch Ness Monster, leading to speculation that it could be a similar species. It is an herbivore that lives in Lake Tele and the surrounding area, which has some deep water much like the Scottish loch. It has an elephant like body with a long neck and tail topped by a small head, sounds similar to a Sauropod type dinosaur, and is grey-brown in colour. Expeditions have tried to find the creature dating from as far back as 1776 and as recently as 2012 with varying results but no conclusive proof yet.
Elephants are pretty sturdy creatures so anything known as the ‘elephant killer’ sounds like a creature to be avoided. But this is the name of a swamp-dwelling creature described by the natives of the Republic of Congo. The creature was able to disembowel and elephant using a large bone horn on its head. This led experts to think that perhaps the creature was a distant relative of a dinosaur such as the triceratops or styracosaurus.
The description went on to add that the creature was a red-brown colour and had massive legs as well as the ability to hide beneath water, completely submerged. Also, while it did attack elephants, this was a defensive measure only and it did not eat the meat, instead being an herbivore. Something, I suppose.
There are stories from around the world of flying creatures that resemble what we believe the pterodactyls to look like and one of these comes from Zambia and Zimbabwe. Known as the kongamoto, the creature is not as large as some of the pterodactyl fossils, at around 4-7 feet compared with 33 feet on some fossils. But otherwise, it has the looks – a long tapered jaw full of sharp teeth, a general appearance of a lizard and bat-like membranous wings.
Other researchers think that the creature could be a member of the bat family while in 1923, explorer Frank Mellard showed pictures of a pterodactyl to locals and they identified it as the Kongomoto.
Worms are good for the garden, so all the garden books tell you. But when the worm in question is some 14 feet in length, I don’t suppose they would do much for the flowerbeds. In fact, the Minhocao is more like a gigantic armour-plated slug that is found across Uruguay and southern Brazil. As well as its length, it has a snout like a pig and two tentacles pointing from its head. It lives underground and occasionally surfaces, its progress marked by a deep trench.
There are various ideas as to what the creature could be, most of which are based around its size being exaggerated. Some think it could be a type of Horner viper while others go with a type of armadillo known as the glyptodont. Other suggestions are that it is an outsized caecilian, a worm-like amphibian that lives under the ground.