The bunyip is a swamp-dwelling marsupial/seal-like hybrid originating in Australia.
Scoring: While visually interesting and scary to think about, the bunyip is found lacking in substantiated evidence, cool anecdotes, and modern-day application (the creature is largely a 19th century phenomenon).
16. Bear Lake Monster
The Bear Lake monster, residing in Bear Lake on the Utah/Idaho border, is said to, and I quote, “resemble a serpent, but with legs about eighteen inches long on which it marauds along the shoreline.” Also, its size is “at least ninety feet long, at most two hundred feet and certainly not less than forty.” Certainly not!
Scoring: The reporter of the original monster sightings, Joseph C. Rich, would later reveal that he made the whole story up, which is a bummer. Curiously, this did not stop sightings — the last reported incident was in 2002. A boat recreation of the monster (seen above) offered a scenic cruise around the lake for years, which is fun.
The Mothman was/is a tall, silvery, red-eyed winged humanoid seen by a number of separate witness groups around Point Pleasant, West Virginia between 1966-1967.
Scoring: The Mothman has had a strangely widespread pop cultural presence for something with such a narrow window of reported sightings, but for the same reason lacks the believability required for sustained interest.
14. Beast of Bray Road
The Beast of Bray Road is a very tall bear-ish or wolf-ish creature, depending on the witness, that lives for unknown reasons on the rural Bray Road in Elkhorn, Wisconsin.
Scoring: What the Beast of Bray Road lacks in compelling evidence, uniqueness, and consistent imagery, it makes up for in being a thing that supposedly just lives on this one road in rural Wisconsin.
The Wendigo is a creature born from Algonquin tribe legend, and was said to be what humans would turn into if they engaged in cannibalism and excessive greed. It is very, very scary-looking.
Scoring: The creature’s name influenced the disputed medical condition “Wendigo Psychosis” in which victims become insatiably hungry for human flesh. (*screams*) What a legacy!
12. British Big Cats (BBCs)
British Big Cats are uncommonly large black cats said to roam the British countryside. Dozens of sightings are reported annually.
Scoring: Working in BBCs’ favor is the fact that in 1988 the British Ministry of Agriculture sent a bunch of Royal Marines out looking for them, which is incredible. Working against BBCs’ coolness factor is the fact they are basically just a normal animal, but a little bigger.
11. Drop Bear
The drop bear, as shown in this helpful chart, is a koala bear that is either a little bigger or way bigger than a koala bear is supposed to be. They are also vicious murderers.
Scoring: Like British Black Cats, a drop bear is a normal animal that is just too big. Unlike British Black Cats, a drop bear will also kill you and eat you. Not likely to exist, but anything seems possible in Australia.
10. Montauk Monster
The Montauk Monster appeared on the beach near Montauk, New York, in the summer of 2008. It was really disgusting-looking and weird.
Scoring: Boring people eventually decided that the Montauk Monster was probably just a decomposed raccoon, but is it a coincidence that Plum Island Animal Disease Center, a government animal testing facility, is nearby? (I mean, maybe.)
The Kraken is an enormous octopus- or squid-like sea monster that lives off the coasts of Norway and Greenland, occasionally capsizing ships. (Or, in the above dramatic reenactment, lighthouses.)
Scoring: The Kraken lacks personality, but something like the Kraken is probably real. There is just no way there isn’t some huge sea creature somewhere in the ocean. It’s too big for there not to be. But I hope it isn’t real.
8. Jersey Devil
The Jersey Devil is said to live in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. It is maybe pictured above chasing a deer. It’s goat-y with bat-like wings, clawed hands, and cloven hooves.
Scoring: The Jersey Devil, which has a good arrangement of other animals’ various body parts, also has a very good backstory: in 1735, a woman (maybe a witch) had 12 children, and then her 13th child was this thing, which flew up the chimney and began its centuries-long mission of roaming the Pine Barrens in New Jersey.
7. Loveland Frogmen
The Loveland Frog (or Loveland Frogman) is a 4-foot tall humanoid with the face of a frog with “wrinkles instead of hair on their heads” who smell like alfalfa and almonds.
Scoring: Even among a list of monsters, the Loveland Frogmen stands out for bizarreness. The Google image search page for this one is just fantastic.
The jackalope, as it happens, is not “definitely a real animal” like you thought. You were probably thinking of jackrabbits. The jackalope is essentially a large jackrabbit with antlers.
Scoring: That jackalopes could be VERY easily confused with jackrabbits, by almost anyone really, is evidence of strong public image messaging by jackalopes. Jackalopes are also said to have the power of human voice and have “a taste similar to lobster.” I can’t really think of any downsides to this animal.
5. Loch Ness Monster
The Loch Ness Monster is our world’s preeminent mystery sea beast with a cute nickname (“Nessie”), first reported in 1933.
Scoring: The above photo, one of the most famous, was determined to have been hoaxed, but sightings of weird waves and blurry objects in the water continue. In anthropomorphized terms, Nessie seems fun-loving and very sneaky.
“Globster” is the name given to unidentifiable organic masses that wash up on shorelines and lie there grossly. Sometimes people think they are giant squids or octopi.
Scoring: “Globster” is the best name that has ever been given to anything, and their inherent un-identifiability lends itself to wild speculation the likes of which you can read about for weeks and honestly never get tired of it. Overall, good.
The coyote-like chupacabra (“goat sucker” in Spanish) has been seen all over the world in the past twenty-or-so years, but is most frequently reported in Puerto Rico and the American Southwest.
Scoring: In a world of oversized sea beasts and winged alien humanoids, the appeal of the chupacabra lies in its enduring simplicity (and reliably frequent sightings): it is just a smallish vampiric coyote and there is nothing wrong with that.
The Yeti, also called the “Abominable Snowman,” is basically Bigfoot in snow. I don’t mean that to be dismissive. One could also say that Bigfoot is Yeti without snow.
Scoring: The Abominable Snowman suggests that it is meaner than Bigfoot, or at least severely misunderstood. It is also EVEN HARDER to see. But otherwise, this is a perfect monster.
Bigfoot, also affectionately called Sasquatch, is a guy (or a bunch of guys) who are covered in fur and walk around woods in the United States.
Scoring: Bigfoot is vaguely threatening without hurting anybody, inspires many exciting hoaxes and charming local TV news segments, and is real. Jane Goodall says Bigfoot is real. He is real.