Skeleton of a vampire bat
They haunt our nightmares and fuel countless Internet stories. They make us shiver with fear and giggle with delight. These are cryptids, a catchall term for creatures whose existence has been posited but is highly unlikely, like the Mongolian Death Worm or the Loch Ness Monster. These creepy beasties have worked themselves into our imaginations to the point where they’ve become almost as familiar to us as cats and dogs.
Here’s a list of ten mythical animals – some based in fact, some completely imaginary – that we think are far more terrifying than the Mongolian Death Worm. Take a look and see if you agree!
Image: Pieter Dirkx
An artist’s interpretation of the Mongolian Death Worm
Before we get to the list, let’s have a quick look at the scary beast that inspired it, the Mongolian Death Worm itself. This slithering creature is definitely like something from a nightmare – reputably able to spit deadly corrosive acid and kill from afar with an electric shock. The Worm is reported to live in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia, where it is said to appear when the ground is muddy from rain.
As with all cryptids, there is no proof that the Mongolian Death Worm exists or has ever existed, but that doesn’t stop the speculation from abounding. After all, why let the facts get in the way of a good monster? Now, let’s get on with describing a few more nasty creatures that we think are even more frightening than this one.
A Brazilian postcard, circa 1932, featuring what looks like a giant snake
Many people are terrified of snakes. So you can imagine the fear inspired by the mythical giant anaconda of South America, known to some Peruvians as ‘Yacu-mama’ or ‘mother of the water’. Normal anacondas can grow to an impressive 6 meters (20 feet) long, but, according to believers, the giant anaconda can reach 50 meters (164 feet) or more in length! It’s said that the Yacumama lives in the waters of the Amazon and will swallow anyone who dares to come within snacking distance!
As far back as the time of the first European explorers of South America, many people have claimed to see giant anacondas. So far, however, no one has produced any proof of this terrifying creature’s existence – despite a reward offer of $50,000 from the Wildlife Conservation Society for a live specimen. In 2009, a father and son duo from Belfast claimed to have captured a giant snake on camera, but scientists remain unconvinced.