Now and again I get asked something along the lines of: “What strange creature, which you haven’t yet searched for, would you like to chase down?” Well, it’s a good question. The world is a very big place and there are a lot of weird beasts out there. But, there are a few specific and amazing animals I’d like to go looking for which, so far, I haven’t had the opportunity.
Imagine coming face to face with a ferocious, carnivorous monitor lizard with a length of somewhere between fifteen and twenty feet – maybe even closer to twenty five feet – and a weight in excess of at least a ton.
Not in times long past – since the creature under the microscope is widely assumed to have become extinct around 40,000 years ago - but right now, deep in the heart of the sub-tropical rainforests of Australia. You think it couldn’t happen?
Many cryptozoologists say it has, time and time again. As for the creature in question, its name is Megalania prisca, a title created by Richard Owen, a 19th Century paleontologist, who also famously came up with the term Dinosauria, or terrible reptile.
And that Megalania prisca, very much a Komodo dragon-like animal, translates as ancient giant butcher or ancient great roamer gives a good indication of its less than hospitable nature.
For years, reports have surfaced of creatures sounding suspiciously like this violent, huge beast in the wilder, denser parts of Australia. As far as I’m concerned, to go on a quest in search of this deadly and massive predator – if it still exists, of course – would be very near the top of my list. Maybe it would be right at the top.
Then there’s Morag, the lesser-known cousin of Scotland’s famous Loch Ness Monster. Pretty much everyone has heard of Nessie. But, when it comes to Morag – the rumored lake-monster of Scotland’s Lake Morar – it’s a creature that pretty much falls way below the radar.
Interestingly, the 12-mile long Loch Morar is the deepest body of water in the British Isles: it extends to a depth in excess of 1,000 feet. As for the sightings of the beast, they date back to the 1800s and number in dozens. Like Nessie, Morag is described as being serpent-like.
While I know Loch Ness very well, I’ve never been to Loch Morar. But, one day, I hope to, and perhaps spend a week or two hanging out with the locals, camped out near the loch, and armed with cameras and night-vision equipment. You know, just in case something large and monstrous breaks the surface of those deep waters.
Most people will be familiar with Bigfoot and the Abominable Snowman. The former is reputed to be a giant ape that haunts the forests of the United States, while the latter is a somewhat similar creature that roams the mighty and frozen Himalayas. But have you heard of the Yeren?
The Yeren is the legendary, large and lumbering hairy wild man of China. Although it’s nowhere near Bigfoot in terms of fame, the Yeren is a creature that deserves our attention, nevertheless. Indeed, if time and funding weren’t a problem, I’d be over there right now, eagerly seeking the truth behind the stories.
So, that’s my top three. Of course, there are many other unusual animals out there, some of which may one day be proved real. Others may become extinct before we have chance to find them, in which case we’ll never get the answers to those. And, inevitably, a certain percentage will continue to languish in the realms of folklore and myth.
But, if we don’t go looking for the terrible things that are said to dwell in our lakes, forests and mountains, then we’ll never get any real, substantial answers at all. When it comes to monsters, expeditions are essential.
Nick Redfern is the author of many books on unknown animals, including the forthcoming Monster Files.