Chapter 5. Cryptids

Pearl givers

There’s a pearl diver in the Philippines who is no longer a young man. He has dived for many years only enough to feed himself and to lie in the shade with a margarita. He dives only once a week always in the same place because there underwater on a small rock shelf every week, he finds his pearls, sometimes two or three small ones, sometimes one larger one, and he doesn’t know how they get there, he doesn’t know what strange creature or what underwater society of water creatures has been providing for him for so many years or why he happens to be the receiver, and he has told no-one about his great fortune.

Water monsters

Most creatures of lakes and seas are unhappy and malevolent, like Storsjöodjuret who churned the waters of Lake Storsjöon and threatened any ferryman bold enough to cross the lake before its strength was tied by a powerful runestone. Nessie, the Loch Ness monster, may be an exception, maybe subdued by the strong tea of peat in her waters, since her power isn’t enough to frighten away the many hoaxsters who fabricate and float fake Nessies. There is probably no connection, ritualistic or otherwise, between Nessie and Cherry Island, the Loch’s only crannog, constructed by people during the Iron Age.

Terrestrial monsters

Although most water monsters are modeled after serpents or dinosaurs, on land, monsters seem to be modeled after primates or large cats. I’d like someone to explain why this is so if monsters are all imaginary.


Something mysterious and powerful lives quietly in the deep forests of North America. It appeared as a large hairy hominid in the legends of all native peoples of the continent. Carl Linnaeus coined the terms Homo troglodytes for wild bipedal primates found in caves and Homo sylvestris for those found in woods or forests. Most scientists attribute its persistence to folklore, hoaxes, and misidentifications. Others believe that Homo sapiens cognatus is descended from an early primate and are hurriedly searching for its DNA before the means of synthesizing DNA for imaginary creatures becomes widely available. Why, although it has been around for many centuries, its bones have not been found is difficult to say.


Yeti, the Abominable Snowman, inhabiting the remote heights of the Himalayas, may be related to Bigfoot; however, the Yeti has become less of a mystery since its appearance and kindness toward Tintin’s friend Chang Chong-Chen have been well documented by Hergé in his book Tintin in Tibet.


A less sympathetic cryptid is the chupacabra, originally from Puerto Rico but well known from Chile to Maine. The chupacabra are heavy creatures with spines from head to tail that drink the blood of pets, goats, and other livestock. The sign of the chupacabra is three puncture wounds in the chest of a dead animal completely drained of blood. Scientists say that the chupacabra is a street dog or a fantasy based on the creature Sil in the sci-fi horror film Species.


We make a distinction between cryptids, which are animals said to exist today in unexplored forests and waters, and creatures from legend and myth which are too varied and numerous to allow a fair accounting in a small book. Cryptids are also distinct from vampires, nachzehrer, and artificial creatures such as Frankenstein’s monster, which are humans (or assembled from human body parts) that are given powers resembling life and whose existence and persistence may be due more to superstition than science.