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21 Creepy Mythical Creatures from Around the World That Terrify

Scary creatures and legendary monsters have long captured imaginations and terrified locals.


We’ve all heard of Bigfoot and the chupacabra, but what about Almasty or the Bili ape? The world is full of terrifying, mythical monsters and scary creatures still awaiting valid discovery, but that doesn’t stop our imaginations from turning. Here’s a list of startling creatures each continent claims as their own. Some people wholeheartedly believe in these stories. Do you?



This dwarf-like creature is said to reside in the forests of Africa and are thought to be the ancestral spirits of the people who live in the area. The legend makes them out to be a kind of ghost, a being which haunts the forest because they have unfinished business with the living. They lurk in the darkest reaches of the trees and are generally considered to be malicious. 


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The jengu is a water spirit whose appearance shifts depending on the beholder. Common descriptions make them out to be a mermaid-like creature with long hair and beautiful gap teeth. Sound appealing? One of their most valuable features is their ability to cure disease, making them a favorite hunt for locals. To further their endearment, they’re thought to be the communicators between the living and spiritual realms. 

Related: 13 Best Horror Books of 2017 


This creature hinges largely on stories of large wounds and eyewitness accounts. These sightings originally came from explorers and the people living in the swamps of Western Zambia, Angola and Congo. Despite the many claims of kongomato sightings, there is a lack of physical evidence of the bird-like creatures. The bodies of supposed victims were never examined to confirm the creature. Most attribute the sightings to a misidentified bird or giant bat. 

Bili ape

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Originally thought to be a mythical creature, the Bili ape continues to stump scientists even today. Reports say that the ape-like chimpanzee walks upright at about five and half feet. The Bili's incredible aggression, including stories about the creature killing and eating leopards, have made it attain a mythical status despite their very real existence.



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The kappa is generally thought to lurk in the ponds and rivers of Japan and resemble a giant salamander. As if this wasn’t unnerving enough, they are also regarded as mischievous and sometimes violent tricksters. Their description does tend to change based on the region they are spotted in; however, they are consistently blamed for drownings. Children are warned to stay away from the water’s edge so that a kappa cannot lure them into the water and pull them under. 


This Mongolian “wild man” can be thought of as a version of the famed North American Bigfoot. It’s covered in reddish-brown hair and stands five to six and a half feet tall. Scientists have routinely discounted the sightings saying that while there could be something in these woods, the numbers would have to be too low to allow for the necessary breeding to sustain a population. Local descriptions tend to vary, but a common comparison likens the almasty to a neanderthal. 

Related: 23 Parents Describe Their Kids’ Creepy Imaginary Friends 

North America


You may already be familiar with the chupacabra thanks to its status as a favorite in popular culture. The name literally means “goat sucker” and was titled such after a series of fatal attacks in Puerto Rico which left the victims with three-holed bite marks and completely drained of blood. The most common sighting has it appearing as a reptile-like creature with leathery or scaly greenish-grey skin and standing at three to four feet tall. It’s been spotted anywhere from Maine to Chile. 


Made famous by its appearance in several Paul Bunyan stories, the hodag is a fearsome mythical creature, hailing from Wisconsin. According to newspaper reports in 1893, the creature had “the head of a frog, the grinning face of a giant elephant, thick short legs set off by huge claws, the back of a dinosaur, and a long tail with spears at the end.” Even with his mismatched description, the hodag has become a mascot for its hometown, Rhinelander. There are statues of the creature erected across the town, including in front of the chamber of commerce. 

Skunk ape

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As you may have guessed, this next creature is named for both its appearance and its accompanying legendary foul smell. Sightings have it living in the swamps of the south. Locals reported many sightings during the 1960s and 70s, which have since decreased. There is little explanation as to what it could have been or what may have caused the sudden decline in sightings. However, as recently as 2000, two photographs were taken by an anonymous woman of a skunk ape in her backyard. She claimed that it left a pile of apples on her porch; at the time, she believed it to be an escaped orangutan. 

Related: The Skunk Ape: Bigfoot’s Stinky Cousin 


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A folkloric favorite, Bigfoot is a famous resident of the dense forests in the Pacific Northwest. This tall, hairy humanoid creature has a plethora of sightings in the area. So much so that there are tourist attractions in the more remote parts of Oregon and Washington dedicated to the beast. Despite this, scientists today still regard the reported sightings to be a combination of misidentification and hoaxes due to the lack of physical evidence. 

Related: 30 Scary Monster Legends from Across the United States 

South America


True to its name, the encantado is fond of abducting humans with whom they fall in love, the children born of their illicit love affairs, or simply anyone lingering near the river. The fear of these dolphin-like creatures is so great that the people who live along the Amazon River are terrified of going near the water between dusk and dawn or entering the water alone. People who have encountered an encantado are said to have gone insane. 


Maricoxi is the name given to several ape-like creatures supposedly lurking in the jungles of South America. Reports say that, upon being sighted, these creatures charge any human they encounter. According to locals, there are five "types" of Maricoxi, ranging from two feet to 12 feet. One type supposedly has feet that face backwards.


According to legends, the yacu-mama dwells at the mouth of the Amazon River and reaches up to fifty paces long. This creature is said to suck up any other human or animal that comes within 100 feet of it. Locals say that the yacu-mama is the mother of all sea monsters. Because of its propensity to eat anything nearby, locals will blow on a conch horn before entering the water. Supposedly, the yacu-mama would show itself after being called by the horn.



Descriptions for this next creature vary more than most. Alpine folklore describes it as a stubby lizard-like creature sometimes taking the appearance of a cat with the hind end of a serpent and no rear legs. The first documented sighting was as early as 1779. Subsequent sightings, including the discovery of a body, gave rise to the popularity of the creature. Unlike the others on this list, the wealth of evidence surrounding it suggests it actually could have existed at one point. Scientists, however, remain skeptical of these claims.

Black Shuck

This ghostly black dog is said to roam the coastline of East Anglia. Recurring descriptions say that the shuck is a dog with shaggy black hair, red round eyes and sharpened teeth. The beast can vary in size and shape, ranging from the size of a large dog to that of a horse. Most legends say the black shuck bodes ill to the beholder, causing illness, the inability to lead a normal life and, in some cases, death. However, some stories say that the shuck will accompany lone women home as protection.

Am Fear Liath Mòr

Recorded encounters with this creature exist from as early as 1851, although they were not made public until 1925. A seasoned climber on the mountainside of Ben Macdui reported hearing footsteps trailing his own though he could see nothing through the dense fog surrounding him. Following cases include hikers claiming to feel a sudden, unexplained bout of fear or unease and seeing a dark grey figure in the seemingly unmoving mist encapsulating the mountain. There is still little explanation today for what these occurrences could be. Often called the "Big Grey Man of Ben MacDhui", this strange creature is described as standing 10 feet tall, covered in short, gray hair.


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This is the name Scots have given to a malevolent shape-shifting water spirit said to inhabit the lochs and pools of Scotland. Usually the kelpie is described as appearing as a horse; however, it retains the ability to adopt a human form. When the legend first arose, human sacrifices were made to gods associated with water, but contemporarily, narratives about the kelpie primarily serve to keep children away from dangerous waters. 



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Reported sightings from Japanese government-backed whale ships are what first brought attention to this creature. Eyewitness accounts describe their human-like shape, including legs, arms, and sometimes even five-fingered hands. Some reports say the ningen also have fins, large mermaid-like tails, or even tentacles. However, joining the growing list of the unexplained, to date, there is no solid evidence to confirm or deny the sightings. 


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You’re likely familiar with this one because of its repeated appearance in popular culture. This underwater monster is said to dwell off the coast of Norway and Greenland in the chilly waters of the arctic. Its primary depiction is that of a large squid-like creature with deadly spikes on its suckers. When the monster emerges from the ocean depths, the water bubbles or releases a sudden shift of currents, resembling an underwater volcano. The kraken has been reported to be the demise of many a ship in the area.


The Hawkesbury River Monster

Opinions are fairly split on this one. Some people living along the river are convinced this Nessie-like beast living at the mouth of the Hawkesbury River exists. Their descriptions entail it having a long neck, bulky body, four flippers, an eel-like tail and mottled-grey skin. However, there are an equal number of people who believe the stories are merely an exaggeration of folklore. 


This Australian water-creature is thought to inhabit the Murray River, specifically Lake Alexandrina. Accounts tell of steamboat attacks and pestering the locals living along the water. Large clumps of floating seaweed are rumored to hide Muldjewangks and are taught, especially to young children, to be avoided. Large footprints have also been seen along the water’s edge. However, most elders in the area claim that the creature no longer inhabits the river system. 

Photos via Goddesses and Gods, Science Heathen, Top 5s, Cryptids Wiki