Nature’s Monsters, Giant Animals and Fantastic Beasts

Bigfoot, Mothman and the Chupacabra may be some of the most widely known cryptids in modern society, but another fascinating cryptozoological classification of mysterious “monsters” are giant animals. Contrary to popular belief, creatures that are considered to be cryptids don’t have to be of a supernatural nature.  They don’t all have to have some hidden power attributed to them. They don’t have to have the power to sense and draw out your deepest fears, to disappear on command or control the environment around them. Some of the paranormal attributes given to cryptids are most likely due to the emotional state or psychological upheaval experienced by the observer after witnessing something totally unexpected or unbelievable to them.  Sometimes, they’re just big.

In 2005, George M. Eberhart wrote an article in the Journal of Scientific Exploration in which he placed cryptids (or reports of cryptids) into ten distinct categories.  Eberhart explained his categorization in the article in reference to his book Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology. In this article we’ll focus on the category “Undescribed, Unusual or Outsized Variations of Known Species.” These may be common animals with notable deformities or attributes.  This may also include known animals that are the rare giant of that species, or suffer from a form of gigantism.


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Krystyna ‘Krys’ Pawlowski and the 28-Foot Crocodile

Krystyna Pawlowski

You may have seen this photo floating around the internet and thought it was a photoshopped crocodile.  However, this is not the case, and the story behind it is surprisingly terrifying. 

Ron and Krystyna Pawlowski were Polish immigrants who arrived in Australia in 1949.  The Pawlowskis struggled to make ends meet while caring for their children on a rural patch of land in Kaumba, in Queensland’s Gulf Country.

That all changed on a hot day in 1955. In a nightmarish scenario, three-year-old Barbera Pawlowski was playing near the water’s edge when her brother witnessed a horrific sight.  A massive crocodile was stalking the toddler, and was about to make her it’s next meal.

“My brother came out and saw it and yelled “Barbara, crocodile!” and my mother grabbed a rifle and shot it between the eyes…”

-George Pawlowski

Krystyna Pawlowski had never shot a rifle before in her life, but in that instant she managed to dispatch what remains to be the largest crocodile ever captured or killed in Australia, a monstrous 28-foot croc.  

“One Shot” became Krystyna Pawlowski’s famous nickname, and the family found fortune hunting crocodiles.

Additional link: The story behind the biggest crocodile ever caught in Australia: How a petite Polish immigrant with perfectly manicured nails nailed an 8.6metre monster – Daily Mail

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Hogzilla and Monster Pigs

There has been a noticeable increase in the number of media stories involving wild or feral hogs in recent years.  The latest story at the time of this writing is of a lethal attack in Chambers County, Texas by feral hogs on a woman arriving to work in the early hours of November 24, 2019

“Feral swine are the same species, Sus scrofa, as pigs that are found on farms. Feral swine are descendants of escaped or released pigs. Feral swine are called by many names including; wild boar, wild hog, razorback, piney woods rooter, and Russian or Eurasian boar. 

No matter the name they are a dangerous, destructive, invasive species. Feral swine were first brought to the United States in the 1500s by early explorers and settlers as a source of food. Repeated introductions occurred thereafter. 

The geographic range of this destructive species is rapidly expanding and its populations are increasing across the nation.”

United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

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Feral hogs, as their domesticated counterparts, if given sufficient food and cover can grow very large. To get an idea of how potentially large a feral hog can get, here’s a domestic analogy. Big Bill was raised from the runt of the litter into a record-smashing 2,552-pound hog. Big Bill’s incredible weight was validated in the Guinness Book of World Records. Bill met an untimely death in 1933 at the age of 3 while en route to the Chicago World’s Fair.  He was subsequently stuffed and put on display as his titanic carcass changed hands to various individuals willing to haul his earthly shell around for a quick buck.

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Buford Butler standing with “Big Bill” post-taxidermy

Domesticated hogs are not usually raised to achieve such great weights, as an agricultural commodity, larger pigs are more difficult to house, transport and slaughter.  Moreover, younger, smaller hogs are more appealing to the meat industry and have generally better quality than older, larger market hogs.  However, the outbreak of African swine fever has decimated the pork industry in China, and some Chinese pork producers are beginning to raise hogs “heavy as polar bears” in order to counter the significant losses of their pigs to disease.

Hogzilla

Hogzilla male hybrid of wild hog and domestic pig that was shot and killed by Chris Griffin in Alapaha, Georgia. On June 17, 2004, on Ken Holyoak’s fish farm and hunting reserve, Griffin shot the beast and reported it to be at least 12 feet long and over 1,000 lbs. Photos of the kill went viral and caused an overnight media sensation.

A forensic investigation of the animal was conducted revealing it was around 8.6 feet long and approximately 800 lbs.  Although this diminished the initial report, “Hogzilla” was still an unusually large specimen.

 

Giant Hogs Worldwide

There is also a recent report of a massive wild boar shot in Chelyabinsk, Russia by hunter Peter Maximov on November 13th, 2015. If the report is accurate, the hog weighed an astounding 1,179 pounds and had a shoulder height of 5.5 feet.

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“King Kong Hog” with Peter Maximov, a pig hunter from Chelyabinsk, Russia

In 2018, another feral hog of incredible size was captured on video in Hong Kong by Facebook user Tu Dong and it quickly went viral.  There are various estimates of the hog’s size and weight but it is difficult to nail down its dimensions exactly from the video.  That being said, it is also an unusually large specimen as it easily accesses rubbish from garbage dumpsters with smaller (still big) piglets below.  This video was taken near a school in Hong Kong, and the area continues to have problems with these large, destructive and dangerous feral swine inside the city.

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Police trying to capture a boar in Hong Kong’s financial district in 2017. Source: CNN

 

Related: list of pigs of significant size.


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Monsters In Print: A Collection Of Curious Creatures Known Mostly From Newspapers

by Adam Benedict

This collection of over 170+ articles, direct from newspapers of the 1800s and 1900s, brings some of the most bizarre, amazing, and incredible stories of true monster encounters out of the past and into your hands! Presented with zero spin or bias, this book delivers just the facts and allows you, the reader, to decide for yourself if the stories within actually happened or not.
From the funny to the frightening, the sincere to the weird, there is something for everyone within these pages!


Giants of the Deep: Giant Squid

kraken-getty

Maritime legends depict all manner of sea monsters from the terrifying to the fantastic.  One of the most famous monsters from the lore of seafarer’s is the Kraken.  Described as a giant, multi-tentacled cephalopod that could wrap its incredibly strong arms around any vessel it desired and drag it and her occupants to the depths of the ocean.  Many now believe that the Kraken of sailor’s stories are most likely sightings of the Giant Squid, genus Architeuthis.

Giant Squid usually reside deep in all of the world’s oceans, and are rarely seen near the surface.  It is estimated that Giant Squid can reach lengths of over 40 feet long and they have the largest eyes in the animal world.  However, being so elusive and mysterious, it is impossible to tell how big Giant Squid are capable of growing. One of the best video close encounters with the giant squid occurred on Christmas Eve 2015 in Toyama Bay, Japan (video clip below) when a juvenile made a rare visit to surface waters.


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Giant Discovery Channel Hoaxes vs Real Giant Sharks

Remember when MTV played music videos?  Also remember when the Discovery Channel used to feature science documentaries and not “mockumentaries” like Animal Planet’s “Mermaids” embarrassment? During “Shark Week” in 2013, the Discovery Channel aired a segment called “Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives.” In the segment, there is a grainy photo that you may have seen floating around the internet.

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Still from “Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives”

The photo was alleged to be taken on December 18, 1942 near Capre Town, South Africa gathered by “Nazi archives” and displays a dorsal and tail fin behind a few U-boats with a measurement marker of 64 feet. Without knowing the documentary was fictional, many viewers assumed this photo was powerful evidence for the existence of the Megalodon in modern times.  However, there were also those who questioned the photo, and ultimately proved it to be phony.

George Monbiot of the Guardian began investigating the claims made by the Discovery Channel show, and with a little help from his readers, managed to debunk the photo as a total fabrication.

“Before I wrote the article I conducted an image search, and found nothing. Now I know why. It wasn’t a still picture. A sharp-eyed reader found the frame in some footage of U-boats on Tarrif.net. The footage was shot in the Atlantic. Take a look 12 seconds in.

It’s the same shot. But guess what? No shark. And no swastika. And not off Cape Town. Or anywhere near.

I wrote to the company handling media inquiries, putting it to them that the production company which made the film, Pilgrim Studios, doctored the image and misled the audience. I have not heard back from them.”

-George Monbiot

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Another photo that has been misrepresented as a Megalodon is the now-famous “Sleeper Shark” video.  Having been re-edited and re-packaged by YouTube as “The Mariana Trench Megalodon,”

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The Pacific Sleeper Shark

The claims that this is a shark of stupendous size comes from the assertion that the cage in question was a large diving cage when in acttuality it is a small bait cage designed to draw in sharks and fish within the range of the camera.  Also, this was not filmed in the Mariana Trench, the encounter was actually recorded by a submersible in Japan’s Suruga Bay and uploaded in 2008 (see video below).


Thete are many historical accounts of giant Great Whites.  In the 1870s, a 36 ft specimen was captured in southern Australian waters, near Port Fairy, and an 37 ft shark  was trapped in a herring weir in New Brunswick, Canada, in the 1930s. Both of those size estimations remain unverified.  However, there are still giants that roam the water to this day.

The largest Great White ever captured on video so far has been Deep Blue, and she’s our modern equivalent to a real-life “Jaws” with the exception that she’s pretty tolerable about having divers around her.  Deep Blue is approximately 20 feet long and weighs an estimated 2 tons, making her the largest known Great Whites sharks alive. She’s estimated to be around 50 years old and the first documented encounter with this particular shark was about 20 years ago.

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41w5KHjzq+L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_The Lake Michigan Mothman: High Strangeness in the Midwest

This book represents over two years of research by a dedicated team of investigators who have taken dozens of reports of a weird, winged humanoid seen around Lake Michigan. Author and investigator Tobias Wayland has collected these reports for the first time in one volume, along with his analysis and insider perspective as a member of the investigative team. The phenomena described within represent the continuation of a decades-long series of events first recorded in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, in the late ’60s, but that has likely been with humanity since our advent, and seems just as likely to be with us until our end.


Giant Snakes

On September 15, the Facebook page CAN Borneo posted a duo of photos showing the charred remains of a python, alleging that the snake was around 33 feet long.

Roughly translated excerpt:

“A large, 10 meter long python was roasted on a land owned by residents around the back of the MHS 1 High School, Samuda, East Kotawaringin (Kotim), estimated around two days ago.

Citizens care about the fire who see the condition of the land that is still on, trying to extinguish it. But residents who took part in the extinction were shocked to see a large python or python of large size burning in the land.

Python carcasses the size of an adult’s thigh would have been 20 centimeters in diameter in a stiff circular. As a result of the burning flames that burned the land…”

Although there is no verified measurements for this snake, if accurate this would be one of the longest Indonesian pythons on record.

The largest known snake ever was the (presumed) extinct Titanoboa.  The Titanoboa lived around 58 to 60 million years ago and was estimated to grow to around 42 feet long and preyed on just about anything that it could crush and kill.

1920px-Eunectes-murinus_-Broghammerus-reticulatus-_-Titanoboa-2.svg

Lucky for us, it’s not around anymore. Or is it? Just kidding… no it isn’t with us any longer.  Which is a shame because it would have been amazing to see this thing in action.

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On 22 March 2012, a full-scale-model replica of a 14.6 m (48 ft), 1,135 kg (2,500 lb) Titanoboa was displayed in Grand Central Terminal in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, New York. It was a promotion for a TV show on the Smithsonian Channel called Titanoboa: Monster Snake which aired on 1 April 2012.

Even though Titanoboa is no longer with us there are still tales of gigantic snakes that slither about the world.  One such is Remy Van Lierde’s giant snake of the Congo.

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Colonel Remy Van Lierde’s photo of the alleged 50 foot snake of the Congo, 1959

Colonel Remy Van Lierde (14 August 1915 – 8 June 1990) was a Belgian pilot and fighter ace who served during World War II. On an episode of Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World entitled “Dragons, Dinosaurs and Giant Snakes”, Van Lierde claimed that in 1959 he encountered a giant snake in the Katanga region of the Belgian Congo while returning from a mission by helicopter. He claimed to have then turned around and made several passes over the snake to allow another person on board to photograph the creature.

Van Lierde describes the snake as being close to 50 feet in length. He claied it was a dark shade of brown and green with a white colored belly. He claimed the snake’s head was 3 feet long and 2 feet wide, and that the jaws were of a triangular shape.

Van Lierde claimed that as he flew lower for a closer inspection, the snake rose up approximately 10 feet, giving the impression it would have attacked the helicopter if it had been within striking range.

While there are no verified accounts of giant snakes the size of the above mentioned otherwise, there continue to be sightings of magnificently large specimens to this day.


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