Cryptozoology is the pseudoscientific study of animals that the general scientific community does not believe exist. As a rule, the general scientific community is right and the conspiracy-theory oddballs on the cryptozoological fringe are wrong. But not always: the gorilla, the giant squid and the sea serpent were all once thought to be the stuff of fiction, and no self-respecting biologist would now doubt their existence.
If you keep your feet planted on rational ground, then the world of cryptozoology is a fascinating place, with a lot to tell us about the fantasies that humans erect to explain the terrifying world around them. And you can forget about Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. These freakish beasts might not get as much PR as Nessie or the Yeti, but they’re every bit as fascinating as their more famous cousins.
Of course, we’re not saying we believe any of these cryptids exist. And yet there are few things more pleasurable than imagining that they are out there, somewhere, lurking on the fringes of the world. And who knows what undiscovered monsters prowl the depths of the Amazon Basin or move unseen through the depths of the Pacific Ocean?
10. Mongolian Death Worm
Let’s start with a nasty one. The olgoi-khorkhoi is said to be 1.5 metres long, with the ability to kill both by spewing highly corrosive acid into its victim’s face and by releasing an electric discharge lethal enough to send anyone in its immediate vicinity into fatal spasms.
The blood-coloured brute lays its eggs in the intestines of camels, and according to other reports then it is covered in razor-sharp spines. Another cryptoworm of note is the South American minhocão, which local legend reports can reach a length of up to 50 metres.