Learn about the logical explanations behind some of our world’s many monsters and bizarre legends.
When you were a child, did a fear of monsters keep you awake at night? While I can safely say that there are no monsters under your bed, I cannot assure you that your fears were without basis. Most legends do not materialize out of thin air; they develop from actual experiences and strange sightings. And while the reality might not be quite as scary as the myth, it is certainly just as interesting.
Stories of strange, primitive, human-like creatures are extremely prevalent. Whether you have heard about the Big Foot of California, the Sasquatch of the North-West United States, the Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas, the Mapinguari of the Amazon, the Yowie of Australia, or the Yeti of Asia, you are probably familiar with at least some ape-man legends.
Some people adamantly believe that these creatures exist among us. However, despite some suspicious videos and footprints, these claims have never been scientifically proven. No modern ape-man remains have ever been found, no ape-man has ever been captured, and no clear videos have ever been recorded. This is despite the existence of dedicated individuals and organizations, such as the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, who look for conclusive evidence nonstop.
But even if these ape-men no longer exist, their legends may still be based on actual creatures. The neandertals were a hominid species closely related to humans; they have been classified both as Homo neanderthalensis and as Homo sapiens neanderthalensis. They lived in Western Europe and central Asia until approximately 30,000 years ago. By this time, modern humans had already evolved; in other words, modern humans and neandertals coexisted. Although scientists are not sure how much these species interacted – some believe that the two species actually mated, whereas others believe that they generally kept their distance – it is likely that they were aware of each other. Therefore, it is possible that our modern stories of ape-men are based on the now extinct neandertals.
Not all mythical, human-like creatures are larger than humans. According to the legends of Indonesia, small, hairy, human-like creatures existed until about 100 years ago. These creatures were dubbed the Ebu GoGo, or greedy ancestors. They frequently stole from the humans living nearby and even kidnapped human children; eventually, the humans drove them into extinction. Most people considered these creatures to be purely fictitious, but now some scientists are rethinking this assumption. In 2003, the remains of a small hominid, named Homo florensiensis, was discovered on the island of Flores in Indonesia. The remains fit the description of the Ebu Gogo and date to approximately 13,000 years ago. It is possible, even likely, that the legends of the Ebu Gogo are based on this real hominid. Other stories of leprechauns and elves could have similar origins, as well.