Cryptozoology is the study of “hidden” animals whose existence has been rumored… but not exactly proven. Notable examples include Bigfoot, The Loch Ness Monster and The Jersey Devil. But don’t write them off jokes just yet. Just like them, these 10 real-life animals started out as laughable legends that would earn you raised eyebrows (or a padded cell) for stories of spying them out in the wild. This’ll make you think twice before rolling your eyes the next time your crazy uncle starts talking about finding the elusive “El Chupacabra.”
Devil Bird: Also known as “ulama,” Sri Lankan folklore believed its shrieking wails were an omen of death. The existence was written off by scientists until 2001 when they identified the spot-bellied eagle owl and noted several matching characteristics, including its shriek.
Ziphius: Medieval legend described this “water owl” as having a wedge shaped beak and massive wide eyes and was claimed to have attacked ships in northern seas. Likely inspired by what we know today as Cuvier’s Beaked Whale.
Bondegezou: The Moni people of Western Indonesia dubbed this marsupial the “man of the forests” due to its resembling a small man covered in black and white fur. In 1994, scientists confirmed it as a new species known as dingiso and it’s still difficult to catch them in action.
Kangaroo: If you didn’t know what a kangaroo was, you wouldn’t believe it when friends returned from Australia telling you they saw creatures with “heads of deer that stood upright like men and hopped like frogs” either.
Platypus: The infamously ridiculous looking monotreme was considered a hoax when first discovered in the late 1700s.
Sea Serpent: Stories of these terrifying sea creatures have been nightmare fuel for years, but they likely stem from sightings of the rare oarfish which typically dwell much deeper in the ocean.
Komodo Dragon: Pearl fisherman claiming to spot these large land lizards were laughed at in the early 1900s until scientists finally made an expedition in 1926 and saw for themselves.
Mountain Gorilla: Before the 1900s, stories about monstrous “ape-men” in East Africa were received with a heavy dose of skepticism. Today, less than 500 of the docile herbivores remain in existence due to poaching and civil unrest.
Okapi: Known as the “African unicorn,” it isn’t quite as mythical as its namesake and resembles a cross between a giraffe, donkey and zebra.
Giant Squid: This “kraken” was bumped up from legend-status when several carcasses were found on beaches of Labrador and Newfoundland in the 1870s.
(via Listverse.) Can you imagine going to the zoo and saying hey to Bigfoot before heading to the Komodo dragon exhibit? If this proves anything, it’s that proof isn’t everything! Share with your friends using the link below!