Modern Cryptids Hello everyone, welcome to Lukelore. A quick deep dive into a folklore topic, where I share some of the stories from around the world that have piqued my interest. We’re swinging for the fences on this one, and tackling some big well known subjects in a look at Modern Cryptids! It feels weird I haven’t done this yet. I occasionally pop in to more recent stories, but even when I take on something like Nessie they’re something with quite the expansive history. But this selection is among the true new wave, stories with very relatively recent histories. Where we will usually look at something with thousands of years of weight behind them, these young whippersnappers may not even have been around for a hundred years yet. Let’s take our first dedicated look at modern era cryptids. SECTION BREAK – The Big Guy Himself I can’t in good conscience approach this topic without going big out of the gate, and talking about Big Foot.
Which then becomes weird, when you try to talk about Big Foot in the context of a modern cryptid…
Wildman and apelike creatures, potential missing links, have been around for a long time.
By “around” I mean the whole world, and by “long time” I mean so long these could be actual oral tradition stories of other hominids passed down through the ages. Native Americans have assorted apeman stories with as many varieties as there are tribes, the Himalayas have the Yeti, the aboriginal Australians have the Yowie, European deep woods having many a strange Wildman story. There are some theories that these are just assorted bears across the ages, but that’s incredibly reductive and basically calling quote/unquote “uncivilised” people dumb. People who live in the wild know what a damn bear is.
The ones who didn’t ended up as bear food.
So potential missing links are as old as mankind, and may even have a basis in anthropology.
But something strange happened about 60 odd years ago. Americans started going fanatical for a modern interpretation of these stories, and modern day Big Foot was born. The sightings began, the stories were spread, and thousands of eyewitness accounts began to pile up of which only a handful of can be chalked up to confirmed hoaxes. Big Foot being the name that really stuck, as in 1958 a picture of a man named Jerry Crew was circulated holding up a plaster cast of an alleged Sasquatch track. The actual origin of the name is all over the place. Bears re-enter the story as there are two instances of rampaging killer bears getting the nickname, and there were some Native Americans who picked up the name due to their immense size. But once the wire service spread this story of the track being cast, Big Foot as we know them was brought into the mainstream.
Since then, who doesn’t know the big guy? Tracks and photographs tend to blow up in the press, even when they’re obvious fakes so long as they’re good to grab attention with. Pop culture has certainly embraced Big Foot! I grew up watching Harry and the Hendersons, which was a film so popular in the 80s it turned into a sitcom that got three seasons (and if there wasn’t proof online it existed, I would probably write it off as a fever dream).
Big Foot hunting remains incredibly popular as reality TV of very varied quality. I myself am not much sold on this branch of cryptozoology, which sounds odd given how much weird stuff I’m involved in. But one thing is totally undeniable: A lot of people absolutely LOVE Big Foot. They’re one of the best known cryptids, and I doubt we’ll ever see people tire of searching for them. The wild places of North America are vast, and only empty by a metric of how few people there are. Other things beyond the scope of human civilisation? Well, anywhere you could walk for days never seeing a sign of other people could hold literally anything.
And there sure are plenty of eye witness accounts. So who knows? I think I’ll leave this one as the bigfoot overview. I could easily do just a show on variations alone! I haven’t even touched upon the Florida Skunk Ape, the Malaysian orang minyak, or the Mapinguari of South America. These just being the regional variations, there are even weird stories within the subsets such as the bigfoot that was throwing snakes at human observers. Sorry to tease these and run, but I’ll be back to them one day and we have plenty more cool modern era cryptids to cover. SECTION BREAK – The Prophet of Doom Now this is something of an odd one, even by Cryptid standards, and digging into their history recently is what inspired this episode. The Mothman of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Here’s the first odd thing about the Mothman, and they’re definitely a weird one even by Cryptid standards. Mothman? Not a moth. The first report in 1966 with the incredible newspaper heading: "Couples See Man-Sized Bird ... Creature ... Something". Had the couple who went to the press to describe a tall grey figure with ten foot wings, the eyes of this figure lighting up red when they caught the light of car’s headlights before flying away. As soon as this first reported story hit the local papers, more sightings began to flood in. Some people just reported a giant grey bird, others leaning more into a humanlike figure, yet all had the iconic red reflective eyes in the night. None actually included any moth characteristics though. Blame the press for calling them the Mothman, but that well and truly stuck. Half a century of pop culture osmosis means that depictions of the Mothman well and truly look like a moth now, but that’s on the journalists looking for a catchy hook. If anything, they’re more like an owl, and could have deeper ties into Native American folklore that sees owls as a bad omen, since there’s the next odd thing about the Mothman… They’re supposedly a portent of doom. Not one that messes around either, this isn’t stub your toe lose your car keys levels of doom. This is collapsing bridge with mass fatalities levels of doom. The 1975 book ‘The Mothman Prophesies’, plus later the film of the same name which followed journalists covering the 60s sightings, has a pretty dark theory. The claim being that the Mothman either predicted or else possibly even caused the 1967 collapse of the Silver Bridge crossing the Ohio River. Even with this much time, it’s a rough topic to raise. This is the deadliest bridge disaster in US history. It was like an opening out of a Final Destination movie. A crack only millimetres in length resulted in a single eyebar suddenly fracturing, which dislodged the pin holding it in place, then the whole thing, this massive bridge, unravelled. A quote from a witness at the time, Charlene Wood, gives me chills over this: “It was like someone had lined up dominoes. I could see car lights flashing as they were tumbling into the water. The car in front of me went in. Then there was silence.”
Carlene Wood was pregnant at the time, and she reversed her car when the bridge started swaying. Swaying so badly the movement of the bridge stalled her car, ultimately leaving her and her unborn baby 4 feet from the precipice when the whole thing went. I mentioned the eyebar that cracked… This was a case of the lowest bidder getting the job. These things were used instead of the steel cables you would see on suspension bridges, and they weren’t possible to check and maintain properly. This resulted in 46 people lost to the freezing waters below. This went darker than I intended sorry, let’s get back to the Mothman. The author of the ‘Chronicles’ book insists that the Mothman was spotted on the bridge right before the disaster, this linking the cryptid to the disaster itself. The consensus seems to be they were an omen of the disaster and not a cause, which makes the connection a lot less uncomfortable. Modern sightings do still occur, although what exactly the modern photographs are is heavily debated. Some UFOlogists have embraced the Mothman, and claim there were Russian sightings ahead of the 1999 apartment bombings in Moscow. But the primary Mothman story remains pretty firmly fixed as a town in West Virginia between November 15th 1966 and December 15th 1967. Point Pleasant has a permanent museum celebrating the cryptid and an annual festival, the Mothman being a firm favourite of locals. Spoilsports will insist that the original sighting was probably just a confused giant sized heron with reddish eyes that strayed off of its migration path, and that modern pictures must surely be those of an owl carrying something. But the Mothman is ultimately a very popular piece of modern folklore with fans around the world and statues in their honour where their story began. SECTION BREAK – A vampire for livestock If someone hasn’t heard of La Chupacabra, it’s probably because they simply know it as the Goat Sucker. Despite how well known they are, this is an incredibly recent cryptid on the scene with stories emerging in the late 90s. Although, now I say that, I realise that’s over 20 years ago so excuse me while I crumble to dust from being ancient… ANYWAY! This began in Peurto Rico in 1995. A woman named Madelyne Tolentino spotted something monstrous outside of her window, which was at least fortunately as scared of her and ran for it. From there, the bodies began to drop. Again, fortunately, not people. Sucks to be the goats who got sucked, though, and other assorted livestock to boot. Animals would be found dead from loss of blood, with puncture marks on their necks and no clear sign of the missing blood. It seemed pretty obvious from there. You begin to see strange monsters, and then animals turn up drained of blood, then you’re adding 2 and 2 to get creepy Dracula thing on the loose. The stories spread around the island, then over to the rest of Latin America, then up into the southern United States, looking alarmingly like a spreading invasive species. Descriptions can vary wildly, beyond just a general size and freakiness. They come in at 4-5 feet tall, standing bipedal either like some sort of weird kangaroo or just a hunched over humanoid. They’re usually gray or green, sometimes described as lizardlike, usually with convenient for goat puncturing fangs, and sometimes with spikes going down their body. All I can say to that is I’m glad they’re skittish in nature, behaving like wild animals that want nothing to do with us. Especially when you get stories of them running around on rooftops. They’re definitely not a visitor I would want to wake up to in the bedroom, and if that did ever happen I would be very happy that it went back out the window and off into the night AWAY from me. This being a recent story, the UFOlogists have tried to claim them as alien visitors, but their behaviour seems to track with wild animals making them an alarming to encounter Cryptid vermin more than anything else. La Chupacabra panics do sometimes end up with mundane explanations,though. I think it was episode 102 of the main show where it was “only” a marauding pack of coyote with mange in one instance, which is somehow not that comforting when you say it out loud. But murdering packs of ill and pissed off regular wildlife don’t come close to answering every case of sightings, with the thankfully shy blood suckers managing to avoid much in the way of being caught on camera so far. But when you look at the big picture, they do look an awfully lot like something weird came out of the jungles and found easy pickings to spread into. Should you find yourself with a visiting La Chupacabra, please don’t try and make friends with it. My gut is telling me here it’s for the best to keep them wild and scared of humans, just leave them to it while locking up your animals at night. SECTION BREAK – Weird legs taking themselves for a walk This is the most obscure offering this episode, the other three being cryptid superstars, but I have a soft spot for these little weirdos… Nightcrawlers. Not the band, nor the bugs. The Fresno Nightcralwers. Sometimes also called the Fresno aliens, because recent cryptids have a huge problem with fans of the X-Files trying to claim them as proof of visiting life from another world, when they’re most likely just something weird from ours. (seriously, even Big Foot isn’t safe from this) They don’t seem to do much, by any report. They just walk across open spaces looking weird. But it’s the fact they happily do it on camera that makes them so interesting. When Moist Bob the town drunk stumbles into the Liquor store yelling about legs walking on their own, he gets to sleep it off in the cells and no one pays the tale any mind. But when videos turn up showing something this strange it has a little more credibility. It’s pretty easy to find pictures and videos of them online, they certainly aren’t shy creatures. They stand out, parden the pun, as they have no torso no arms and no head. They’re just legs going for a wander. It’s possible they’re weird wind powered art installations, stuff similar to this has been unleashed upon beaches around the world to inject a little wonder into life, but they tend to end up crashing into a hedge somewhere with examinable remains and an artist to claim them. The Fresno Nightcrawlers just kind of… Turned up, stretched their legs, buggered off, and no one has so far managed to grab one. Which seems sensible, really, as while they may only be legs they’re quite a lot of leg. Estimates have them at 5’ tall, and there’s just something uncanny enough about them that would even give me pause before poking them with a stick to see what happens. They’ve only been sighted three times since 2010, although their videos get heavily circulated since they’re so damn weird and as yet unexplained. First in Fresno, California. Then in Yosemite Park, California again. Then, weirdly, and harder to verify due to extreme shakey cam, they have apparently gone for a stroll in Poland. Being an Internet age cryptid, the Fresno Nightcrawlers have enjoyed a whole heap of random misinformation from bored people muddying the water. People joining in making their own videos with either CGI or by puppeteering pairs of pants. Some git tried to make up a story tying them in to local Native American folklore, but that was handily debunked and boooooo on that person. But the imitators are always pretty easy to shoot down, and the main videos have been stubbornly difficult to easily explain away. Nothing worrying about them. Just some legs stretching themselves. Wait and see now, for if any further footage or information comes to light. SECTION BREAK That’s all for this episode. I doubt this is the last we’ll hear from these Cryptids, both in the wider world and on LukeLore. The Missing Links from around the world easily could be revisited as their own showcase, so definitely let me know if that’s something you would like sooner rather than later and also drop any tips of what stories you would like me to look into.
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