The Yeti and Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and the chupacabra… these are all legendary animals we’ve all heard about. How about the beasts inhabiting the legends and beliefs of other cultures, though? Let me assure you, there are enough of them to go around, and few of them, if any, are exotic animals people keep as pets – some of them are outright horrific even for a legendary beast.
Although its name may sound cute, it is not something you’d like to come across. The bunyip is a large creature from the Australian Aboriginal mythology said to lurk in swamps, creeks, and riverbeds, waiting for the prey to come close. The accounts of its look vary – some describe it as a massive, starfish-like creature, others, as a beast with a dog-like face, a crocodile-like head, a horse-like tail, horns, flippers, dark fur, and a bill similar to the ducks.
Many explorers thought they discovered the mythical animal but no proof has yet been found of its existence.
The term “Dobhar-chú” literally translates as “water hound” or “water dog” from Irish, while in English, the creature bearing it is often called the “King Otter”. It is a mythical creature mentioned quite often in the Irish folklore, described as half dog, half fish (it is a bit similar to an otter, to be honest). The only written evidence of its existence is a headstone from the 17th century of a woman supposedly killed by this water monster.
“Dobhar” in old Irish means “otter”, while “cú” means dog or hound – so, Dobhar-chú might have been just a really big otter species that didn’t like the humans’ company and went extinct by now. Considering that otters have been spotted attacking alligators, this is not such a far-fetched idea.
The bigger the lake, the more horrific and mysterious the monster living in it. This is the case of Lagarfljótsormur (the Lagarfljót Worm), supposedly living in the lake Lagarfljót in Iceland. It is not entirely different from the Loch Ness monster – records of its sightings go back as far as 1345, and they still emerge today – the most recent is a video from 2012 supposedly showing the monster swimming in the lake.
According to the lore, Lagarfljótsormur has a head like a seal, several humps, and a length of at least 46 feet.
Many areas have their own man-ape that moves unseen through the forests, away from the eyes of curious humans. North America has Bigfoot, the Hymalayans have the Yeti… and Russia – near the Indigirka and Yana rivers – has Chuchunya. Chuchunya is described as a “well built, Neanderthal-like man wearing pelts as clothes and bearing a white patch of fur on its forearms” and, unlike its more cryptic counterparts from the rest of the world, occasionally consuming human flesh.
Last but not least, let us mention Minhocão, a legendary creature believed to live in the lakes of Brazil. It is described either as a big fish, measuring 20 to 50 meters (65 to 165 feet) that hides under the surface, catching unsuspecting animals – mostly cattle and horses – by their belly and pulling them under the water or as a massive earthworm, 50 yards long, covered in bones, that uproots trees and leaves trenches in its path. While most scientists are skeptical about its existence, a naturalist claimed to have been trying to transport the corpse of a dead specimen to Europe. There is no word on whether it actually arrived, though.