Urban legends have enchanted people around the world for centuries.
Plenty of people are obsessed with the idea of spotting Nessie, or finding Bigfoot. In fact, some even study cryptozoology, which Merriam-Webster defines as the study of and search for legendary animals. Basically, folkloric creatures whose existence have yet to be proven.
Using analytics from Wikipedia pages of cryptozoological creatures, Insider Data determined which urban legends Americans can’t stop talking about, based on how many edits pages of cryptids received, as well as how frequently the pages are edited.
Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, and Yeti are among the most popular urban legends, according to the findings. Other cryptids that people can’t get enough of are the Mothman, the Mongolian Death Worm, and the Jersey Devil.
Keep reading to explore the stories behind 20 of the most popular legends and their accompanying cryptids.
Bigfoot is thought to be a large, hairy, ape-like creature that lurks somewhere in North America.
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One of the most infamous urban legends is the tale of Bigfoot, which is purportedly a large, hairy, ape-like creature that roams forests in the US.
The search for Bigfoot, also called Sasquatch, makes this legend among the most-discussed in America.
Using data from the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, which documents all reported Sasquatch spottings, Travel Channel found that there have been about 23,000 sightings of Bigfoot in the US over the years, with Washington having 2,032 reports, and California reporting 1,697 sightings.
There have also been hundreds of supposed spottings of the Sasquatch monster documented in Kentucky since the early 19th century – most recently by a couple camping in Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave National Park who were awoken by a man who claimed he saw the beast.
The Loch Ness Monster, or Nessie, is part of a famous tale about a sea monster that lives in Loch Ness, Scotland.
According to Scottish folklore, a monster known as Nessie, or the Loch Ness Monster, lurks in a lake called Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, sightings of her may go back to the Pict (ancient people who lived in eastern Scotland), as stone carvings of a “mysterious beast with flippers” have been discovered.
The earliest written mention of the legend comes from the year 565, when a man known as Saint Columba spotted a monster in Loch Ness that was going to attack a man swimming in the lake. Legend has it that Columba successfully commanded the monster to retreat, according to PBS.
In the 1930s, the legend of the Loch Ness Monster grew in popularity – and though some scientists claim the Loch Ness Monster may be a giant eel, the legend is still widely held onto today. In fact, Nessie has been estimated to bring Scotland £40.7 million ($50.6 million) in tourism money annually.
The yeti is thought of as a hairy, white-furred creature that lives in the Himalayas.
- Indian Army
Yeti, also known as the Abominable Snowman, is supposedly a large and hairy human-like entity that roams the Himalayas.
The Yeti creature is rooted in folk stories of communities in eastern Nepal that may have once been passed down among generations to scare people from wandering too far into the mountains.
The first supposed Yeti sighting occurred in 1921, when a British explorer, Charles Howard-Bury, climbed Mount Everest and found large footprints that apparently were described as belonging to a “man-bear snow-man,” according to BBC. The legend continued through the mid-20th century, with mountain explorers eager to come across the infamous creature.
DNA of supposed hair, teeth, fur, and feces samples of the legendary Yeti creature show that the folklore is likely based on Himalayan black and brown bears, according to National Geographic – but the legend of the Abominable Snowman continues to live on.
The first reported chupacabra attack was in Puerto Rico in 1995. Since then, there have been alleged sightings of the blood-sucking critter across North America.
The legend of the chupacabra, Spanish for “goat-sucker,” is believed to have originated in Puerto Rico, where the blood-sucking creature was reportedly first spotted in 1995.
When it was first documented, the chupacabra was said to have four legs, wide, dark eyes, and three fingers. It also was described as having spiky hair on its back and small air holes in place of a nose, and being a vampiric creature that drained goats and other small animals of their blood.
In the late ’90s, the story of the chupacabra became local legend in Puerto Rico, with stories of its original sighting appearing on talk shows and in the media.
The next sighting wasn’t until the mid 2000s, according to Benjamin Radford, a paranormal investigator and the author of “Tracking the Chupacabra.” That’s when the creature supposedly reemerged as a hairless, coyote-esque animal.
When alleged cupacabra bodies turned up, scientists DNA tested them, identifying them as normal animals that were affected by sarcoptic mange – their hair and fur had fallen out.
However, mysteries and theories about the creature keep the legend alive to this day.
Mothman is a winged creature at the center of an iconic legend from a small town in West Virginia.
- Amanda Voisard/Getty Images for the Washington Post
The Mothman is part of a local legend in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Made popular by “The Mothman Prophecies,” a book by John Keel, the Mothman is thought to resemble a cross between a man and a brown or reddish moth with wings.
Legend has it that the Mothman has been lurking around West Virginia since the 1960s. One of the first purported sightings of the winged creature was on November 12, 1966, when five men were working at a cemetery to prepare a grave for burial and spotted a “brown human being” emerge and fly out of the trees.
The story goes that a few nights later, two young couples spotted the mysterious Mothman creature during a night drive just north of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. The Mothman has been a local legend ever since, and the town draws thousands each year to the annual Mothman Festival.
The Jersey Devil, a horned, winged, horse-like creature, is thought to roam somewhere in New Jersey’s forests.
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Also dubbed the Leeds Devil, this creature is thought of as a winged bipedal horse – a combination that could be described as a horse-like creature with wings.
The story of the Jersey Devil has been around since the 1700s. The legend states that a woman named Mother Leeds became pregnant with her 13th child, and said “Let this one be [a/the] devil.” Once the child was born, it grew hooves, wings, horns, and a tail. It’s believed that the legendary animal is indestructible and cannot die, despite being exorcised, shot, incinerated and declared dead.
The Kraken is described as a sea monster or giant squid-like animal that lurks in the oceans.
- Edgar Etherington – Gibson, J./Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
According to legend, the Kraken is believed to be a giant sea creature with tentacles that lurks in the depths of the ocean.
The story of the Kraken supposedly stems from Nordic tales that describe monsters with huge tentacles that roamed the sea. A Danish historian, Erik Pontoppidan, described the creature in detail in an account from 1755, saying the monster was “round, flat, and full of arms.”
Then, in 1857, the remains of a creature believed to be a giant squid were spotted by a Danish naturalist, Japetus Steenstrup, who supposedly saw the large sea creature’s beak that had washed up on the shores of Denmark.
Steenstrup’s observations of the giant squid are believed to be connected to early descriptions of the Kraken – but the tale of the cryptid is still very much alive today.
The Bunyip is believed to be a giant cat-like creature with horns that is the subject of Australian Aboriginal folklore.
The Bunyip is said to be a lake and cave animal that lives somewhere in Australia. It stems from an Aboriginal folktale, which describes the creature as a monster that lurks around swamps and lagoons, described as having a long neck and a body similar to that of an ox, hippo, or manatee.
Ogopogo is supposedly a lake monster that swims in the Okanagan Lake, Canada.
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Canada’s lake monster, known as the Ogopogo and also referred to as N’ha-a-itk or Naitaka, is supposedly lurking in the Okanagan Lake, near Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada.
Though the legend of the Ogopogo has been around for centuries, one of the earliest modern mentions of it was in 1978, when self-proclaimed legend hunter Bill Steciuk spotted what he believed was the mysterious creature while driving over the lake on a floating bridge.
Steciuk now runs Ogopogo Quest, which documents what he calls “credible reported sightings.”
Legend has it that the Mongolian Death Worm is a headless worm found in the Gobi Desert that emits electricity and a lethal venom.
Also known as Allghoi-khorkhoi or Olgoi-khorkhoi, the worm-like creatures are believed to roam the Gobi Desert in China and Mongolia.
They are described as a red-colored, headless worms that emit electrical charge and a poisonous venom that can lead to instant death for any other creatures that come close. According to Mongolian folklore, the worms hide in the sand, creating underground tunnels of sorts.
Though it appears there has yet to be a documented sighting or encounter with one of these cryptids, lore surrounding the infamous creature lives on.
Massive felines known as British big cats are said to roam the English countryside.
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Called British big cats or phantom cats, these legendary creatures have been aptly described as very large cats that resemble mountain lions, pumas, or panthers.
In 1983, a farmer in the southern English countryside supposedly found that 100 of his sheep had been killed over a period of three months by a mysterious animal. The slaughter was said to confirm many people’s suspicions of the legendary British big cats, of which sightings have been reported since the 1970s.
It’s believed that the legend comes from a wildcat species that roamed England in medieval times, but some studies from more recent times suggest that the British Big Cat might just be a descendant of the Canadian lynx, a giant cat brought to England more than a century ago. Either way, fears and tales of the large feline figures are still discussed to this day.
A hairy, human-like creature known as a Yowie is believed to roam around Australia.
- Barry James Gilmour/Fairfax Media via Getty Images
The Yowie is described as a “large, hairy, human-like entity” that roams Australia. The legend of the Yowie stems from Aboriginal tales that describe the beasts as “hairy men” lurking around different parts of Australia in the 1820s and 1830s.
Australia’s Woodenbong village in New South Wales was supposedly the site of an early Yowie sighting in 1928, when a man named Bob Mitchell supposedly spotted a hairy, gorilla-like monster that was about seven feet tall.
There were two other reported Yowie spottings in the 1970s in the same region, which has led to Woodenbong being dubbed the capital of Yowie country.
The giant anaconda was supposedly spotted only once, but it’s said the 130-foot-long snake is still slithering around the Amazon Rainforest today.
- Sylvain CORDIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
The legend of this massive snake stems from a reported sighting in 1948, when a group of Brazilians supposedly captured a 131-foot-long snake in the Amazon Rainforest. Thus, the legend of the giant anaconda, or megaconda, was born.
The world’s largest documented snake is the green anaconda, but it’s not to be confused with the legendary snake that is said to still exist somewhere in the Amazon – much of which is still undiscovered.
The Fouke Monster is described as a primate creature that was reportedly spotted in the city of Fouke, Arkansas, in the 1970s.
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Also called the Southern Sasquatch, the Boggy Creek Monster, or the Jonesville Monster, this legendary creature has reportedly been spotted in and near the town of Fouke, Arkansas, multiple times over the years.
The first sighting of the hairy monster was supposedly in 1946, when the creature was seen in nearby Jonesville, Arkansas. It was spotted again the 1960s, according to Animal Planet, but it didn’t make headlines until the early 1970s, when it supposedly attacked the home of a local family.
The Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp is said to be a scaly reptile creature that lurks in the town of Bishopville, South Carolina.
- Tracy Glantz/The State/Tribune News Service via Getty Images
The legend of the Lizard Man started with a strange occurrence in the town of Bishopville, South Carolina, in 1988.
The story goes that a man named Christopher Davis got a flat tire while driving near the Scape Ore Swamp. Davis supposedly exited his car to fix the tire when he spotted a slimy, green creature about seven feet tall. It’s said that the vicious lizard monster attacked Davis’ car, which he reported in detail to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.
Other reported sightings of the town’s infamous Lizard Man have described him as a dark, scaly creature with a tail, or an alligator with a short nose and long legs.
An ominous creature known as the Mogollon Monster is believed to live somewhere in Arizona.
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Legend has it that the Mogollon Monster lives somewhere along the Mogollon Rim, a rock that stretches 200 miles across Arizona – though it’s also reportedly been spotted in the Grand Canyon and in the city of Prescott.
An early spotting of the cryptid was allegedly in 1903, when a man told a local newspaper that the monster had “long white hair and a matted beard that reached his knees. He wore no clothing and upon his talon-like fingers were claws at least two inches long.”
According to a recounting of a supposed spotting of the creature in the 1940s, the Mogollon Monster was described as being huge, with deep-set eyes, a hairless face, and massive shoulders and a chest.
To this day, the Mogollon Monster legend continues to linger around the region in Arizona.
The Monkey-Man of Delhi is said to be a tall, gorilla-like creature that bites, scratches, and chases people.
- SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images
According to the Hindustan Times, in 2001, dozens of people in Delhi, India, reported that they were being terrorized by a tall ape-like figure who supposedly bit or scratched them before disappearing.
It’s said that three people died due to encounters with the mysterious Monkey-Man of Delhi – including a pregnant woman who was chased by the creature and died falling down a staircase, and two men who jumped from balconies, according to TIME.
Reports of the creature became less common following the alleged attacks in 2001, but the mystery surrounding the cryptid still keeps people talking today.
The legend of the Thunderbird, supposedly a giant bird with an 18-foot-long wingspan, has been captivating people for decades.
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The legend surrounding the Thunderbird is believed to stem from Native American folklore about flying animals of the same name.
One of the earliest and most famous documented sightings of the mysterious flying creature dates back to 1860, when Arizona newspaper The Tombstone Epitaph published an article about men on horseback who shot a “winged monster” out of the sky.
The creature, thought to be a Pterodactyl-like animal with an 18-foot-longer wingspan, became known as the Thunderbird.
Cadborosaurus, also known as Caddy, is thought to be a snake-like sea creature that is 30 to 70 feet-long.
The legend of the Cadborosaurus, also called Caddy, dates back to 1937, when what’s believed to be the creature’s carcass was discovered in the stomach of a sperm whale in Naden Harbor off the coast of British Columbia, Canada.
Canada’s Victoria News reports that sights of the Cadborosaurus describe it as a 30- to 70-foot-long, snake-like sea animal with webbed feet and a head shaped like that of a horse.
It’s believed that Caddy lived in the Pacific Ocean, and many followers of the folklore believe that his descendants and relatives still lurk in those waters.
Champ is supposedly a lake monster that’s lurking somewhere in Lake Champlain.
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Champ, also referred to as Champtanystropheus Americanus or Champy, is thought to be North America’s version of the Loch Ness Monster.
Champ is named after its alleged location – Lake Champlain, between Vermont, New York, and Canada. The story goes that in 1977 a woman named Sandra Mansi spotted what she thought was a school of large fish coming out of the water of the lake, but it turned ut to be a long-necked creature that grew bigger and bigger as it emerged from the surface of the water.
Sightings were frequent after this – they peaked in 1992, when there were an alleged 180.
After three new sightings in 2003, Discovery Channel did a special on “America’s Loch Ness Monster,” which has since been protected by law by the state of New York and Vermont.