Around the world we find reports of fantastical beasts. Many of these are certainly real only in the imagination. Floating heads attached to intestines? Not likely to turn up as a museum specimen. Monsters bigger than any living or extinct animal? Probably not being missed by all the people running around right now. Weird, but realistic, creatures hiding in plain sight by virtual of their lifestyles? Sure, that might be.
We discover near animals all of the time. Most of these are small or so similar to other, known species that they don't make headlines. When a scientists realizes a little spider or small brown bird is actually 2 species, no one notices. But if you find a 7 foot fish in a river near a major city, that might be newsworthy.
If I were a betting man, these are the weird creatures that I'd put money on being real.
TRINITY ALPS GIANT SALAMANDER
There are several species of large salamanders in the world. In the Eastern US, we have the hellbender. In Asia they have the Japanese and Chinese giant salamanders. All of these beautiful, strange creatures are closely related and share a few characteristics. They can get big. In the case of the Chinese giant salamander, 6 foot isn't unheard of. They are classically shaped like a salamander, with 4 legs and a round head. They all have loose, folded skin and they all inhabit clear, clean waterways.
In Northern California, infrequent reports of a giant salamander filtered in throughout the early to mid-1900's. The Trinity Alps giant salamander could exist, and if it does it would be a whopper. Various reports put the beast at 5 feet or so, and living in clear, cool waters in the Trinity Alps region... Which is part of a massive wilderness area seeing minimal foot traffic.
Frank L. Griffith went hunting in the 1920's and his report of monster salamanders in the water lead to several scientific expeditions, but to no avail. Are there giant, undiscovered salamanders in California? Probably not, at least not currently extant, but there COULD be a few holding on in a small population, inhabiting deep, clear water. Or they could be recently extinct. Either way, be careful if you swim with your chihuahua in the New River. It just may be lunch...
MONGOLIAN DEATH WORM
The Mongolian death worm doesn't sound anything like a real animal. Various reports say it might shoot acid, or be electric, or kill with a touch, or be a worm, or be some monster, or have skin that bursts with poison, or...
That doesn't sound likely to exist at all. Ever. Even animals having one of those abilities are rare, especially an electric animal on land in the desert. That just doesn't happen. So why does the olgoi-khorkhoi ("intestine worm") make a list of realistic monsters that could exist? I mean, a giant worm that's deadly to the touch isn't very reasonable, especially not for the Gobi Desert. The Gobi Desert isn't exactly a tropical rain forest or coral reef or other place you'd expect a giant worm.
Well, maybe the Mongolian death worm is real but isn't deadly, and isn't a worm. More realistic reports put the death worm around 2 feet and maybe just be venomous. That certainly sounds like it might just be a rare snake, like some kind of spitting cobra or something similar, that's a specialized burrower. It won't be a giant, electric monster from anyone's nightmares, but it would still be a cool discovery.
Source: Encyclopedia Britannica.
Brazilian native folklore speaks of a harry, ape-like animal dwelling deep in the Brazilian jungles. It has giant claws, one eye, impenetrable scaly skin, and smells terrible. It isn't overtly aggressive, but can be dangerous when stumbling upon it in thick vegetation, skewering a man with it's giant claws. It apparently avoids deep water and has a mouth on it's stomach. Sound like an ex's of yours?
There's no way such a ridiculous chimeric thing could exist. Right?
Well, what if the mapinguari DID exist but died out, and has since been confused with folklore and myths. There's a very good chance that humans, giant ground sloths, and glyptodons (giant armadillo-like creatures) exists in the Americas for a while together. Giant ground sloths could certainly fit the smelling bad, giant massive claws, and walking mostly upright thing. Oh, and why not reddish fur and weird calls? They clearly didn't have extra mouths on their stomachs or scaly, armored skin... but glyptodons DID have almost impenetrable skin covered in scales. The ancestors of the current Brazilians could've passed down stories and tales of these animals, evolving like a game of telephone into the mapinguari beast. Some of these animals may have even held on to historic times, with great great grandparents catching a glimpse of one in the forest of seen a recent skeleton beginning to fossilize.
Are giant ground sloths still running around in the rain forest? Honestly, probably not. They were huge, bear-like creatures and not particularly built of sneaking and hiding.
The yeti - also known as the abominable snowman - is a mythical beast dwelling high up in the Himalayas. According to legend, it's a man-ape-thing... Half-man, half-ape, half-magical? This humanoid has appeared in Nepalese folklore going back hundreds of years.
Well, there almost certainly isn't a giant ape-man running around anywhere in such a snowy, desolate environment. But the word for Yeti is aparently derived from the word for "bear" as well. And, wouldn't you know, a DNA analysis of supposed yeti samples revealed there may be a mysterious (or not so mysterious) bear high up in the mountains being confused with local folklore. So, it's probably nothing but it COULD be a rare, undiscovered bear.
This is a bit of a cheat and also a very real entry. See, the Tasmanian tiger (aka thylacine) did exist but it sadly went extinct in Australia and Tasmania due to humans persecuting them and converting their habitat to farms. This is an all too common problem in the world. Officially, the last living example of this beautiful species died in the Hobart Zoo in 1936. Unofficially?
Sightings of this and other extinct animals continue to this day. The Tasmania tiger might have the most likely claim if a handful of individuals hang on in remote locations. It's unlikely, but possible. Of course, there's another way this species could still exist.
DNA! Some scientists are working to revive species that we killed out of existance through DNA.If we can extract DNA from museum specimens, we could hypothetically use that in a surrogate mother to create new Tasmania tigers. Should we? Well, we all saw Jurassic Park... Still, I'm all for fixing our mistakes.
Will YOU be the one to find some rare or undiscovered species?
Which unknown or rumored animal do you want to see alive? Let Nerdbot know in the comments!