The Jersey Devil and Other Monsters
There are many different unsolved mysteries that exist today. Some of these unsolved mysteries are the Jersey Devil, chupacabras, dragons, Unicorns, and Centaurs. Some say they are a hoax and some say they are real because they have seen them. Some monsters might be hoaxes, but it is true that some believed to be totally fake were real, like the coelacanth found in the Indian Ocean. By looking at their description, possible origins, and recorded sightings, we can get a better understanding of these "monsters".

The Jersey Devil
The Jersey Devil is reported to come from the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. It has haunted New Jersey and the surrounding areas for the past 260 years and has been seen by over 2,000 witnesses over this period. While descriptions vary, several things remain fairly constant. The Jersey Devil is commonly described as having a long neck, wings, hooves, a horse-like head, and a forked tail. Its height varies among sightings from about 3 feet to more than 7 feet tall. Most sightings report that the creature has glowing red eyes and emits a high, human-like scream or a bark. Many people believe that the Jersey Devil is a legend, a mythical beast, that originated from the folklore of the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Other people strongly believe that the Jersey Devil is real.

There are several theories as to the origin of the Jersey Devil. The first, and most popular, is that Mrs. Shrouds of Leeds Point, NJ declared that she wished her next child to be a devil. It happened that her next child was born deformed. She hid the child in the house until one stormy night when he flapped his arms, which then became wings, and flew out of the chimney. The family never saw him again. A similar story places the birth in Estelville, NJ where a Mrs. Leeds declared that she hoped her 13th child was a devil. This child was born with horns, wings, a tail and horse-like head. Burlington, NJ also claims to be the birthplace of the Jersey Devil. In 1735, a mother was giving birth on a stormy night. She was reported to be a witch, and the father was said to be the devil himself. While the child was born normal, supposedly it changed into a creature with hooves, bat wings, a forked tail, and a horse's head. The legend says that the devil was exercised for 100 years in 1740, and was not seen again until 1890.

The sightings of the Jersey Devil are separated into three categories, pre-1909; January 16-23, 1909; and post-1909. Supposedly, Napoleon's brother Joseph Bonaparte saw the Jersey Devil in Bordentown, NJ, somewhere between 1816 and 1839 while hunting. Between the years of 1859 and 1894, the Jersey Devil was seen many times carrying off anything that moved in Bridgeton, Brigantine, Haddonfield, Leeds Point, Long Branch, and Smithville. The last reported sighting before the turn of the century was by George Saarose, a prominent business man, at the New Jersey - New York border. In 1903, Charles Skinner, who wrote American Myths and Legends said that the devil had run its course and he would not be seen in the new century. New Jersey breathed a sigh of relief that only lasted 6 years.

There were so many sightings in January of 1909, that it has its own time period. More than 1,000 people would see the Jersey Devil, his largest appearance ever. It began on January 16, 1909 with Thack Cozzens of Woodbury, NJ, seeing a creature flying down the street that had glowing eyes. A number of others also saw a strange flying creature that had a piercing scream. In the morning light, the residents of Bristol found unusual hoof prints in the snow that even experienced trackers did not recognize. The next day, the Lowdens of Burlington, NJ, found half-eaten garbage with the strange tracks nearby, which led up trees, across roofs, and stopped in the middle of fields. The same tracks were also found in Columbus, Hedding, Kinhora, and Rancocas, but the hunting dogs would not even follow them. They tried again the next day, and professional hunters followed the tracks for more than 20 miles in Gloucester. The trail went under 8 inch spaces and jumped 5 foot fences. The hoof prints were found in many places in South Jersey. In Camden, NJ, a group of observers were barked at by the devil before they saw it take off into the air. The next day, three posses in Haddonfield found tracks that ended abruptly. In Collingswood, NJ, a posse watched the devil fly off toward Moorestown. Near Moorestown, John Smith of Maple Shade saw the devil at the Mount Carmel Cemetery. George Snyder saw it right after Mr. Smith and their descriptions were identiclal.

On January 19, 1909, Mr. and Mrs. Nelson Evens heard a large animal on the roof of their shed, only to see a creature they described as about three and a half feet high with a face like a collie and a head like a horse. It had a long neck, wings about two feet long, back legs like those of a crane, and horse's hooves. It walked on its back legs and held up two short front legs with paws on them. The next day the Jersey Devil was seen by the Black Hawk Social Club. He was also seen by a trolley full of people in Clementon as it circled above them. The witnesses descriptions matched others from the days before. In Trenton, Councilman E.P. Weeden heard the flapping of wings and then found hoof prints outside his door. The prints were also found at the arsenal in Trenton. That same week, Mrs. J.H. White noticed a strange creature huddled in the corner of her yard where she was taking clothes off her line. She screamed and fainted. Her husband found her on the ground and the devil close by, spurting flames. They chased it over the fence and it vanished. The devil struck again, this time it attacked Mrs. Mary Sorbinski's dog in south Camden. When she heard the dog cry, she rushed outside and chased the devil away with a broom. The creature took a bite out of the dog before it fled. Eye witness accounts of the devil filled the newspapers along with photos. Then, as suddenly as it came, the devil disappeared

There were no more sightings until 1927 when a cab driver had stopped to change a tire, the vehicle began to shake violently. Berry pickers at Leeds Point and Mays Landing reported seeing the devil in August 1930, as it crashed through the fields, eating blueberries and cranberries. In November 1951, dozens of witnesses reportedly saw the Jersey Devil when it was cornered by a group of children near the Duport Clubhouse in Gibbstown. Sightings peaked once more in 1960 near Mays Landing when a group of people were terrorized by bloodcurdling cries. In 1987, in Vineland an aggressive German Shepard was found torn apart and the body gnawed upon. There were strange tracks around the body that no one could identify. The most current sighting was in 1993 by forest ranger John Irwin near the Mullica River in southern New Jersey. The Jersey Devil was blocking the road ahead of him, staring at him for a time before turning to run into the nearby forest.

Another mysterious creature is the Chupacabra. The most common description is a lizard-like creature with leathery or scaly greenish-gray skin, sharp spines or a ridge down its back, and sharp claws. It is about three to four feet high and stands and hops like a kangaroo. It has a dog-like nose and face, a forked tongue, large fangs, hisses or screeches, and leaves a sulfuric stench. It has been said to resemble the gargoyles seen in Medieval Europe. The Chupacabra originated in Canovanas, Puerto Rico and was believed to be El Vampire de Moco, a legendary mauler of animals, which turned out to be crocodiles illegally released onto the island. It has also been called "The Goatsucker" because it seems to like goats and other farm animals, and it drains its victims almost entirely of their blood. Another possibility involves giant vampire bats of which a few fossils have been found in South America. The theory that the Chupacabra may in fact be a close relative of the aye aye, Madagascar's equivalent to the racoon, is still being debated among scholars. There is also speculation that the Chupacabra's origin is an offshoot of an abandoned pet of other intelligent beings that came to Earth a long time ago. Some believe the Chupacabra to be the result of secret government experiments in genetics, perhaps crossing a dog with a reptile. Numerous sightings have also been made in the United States, Central America (Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala) and South America (Brazil, Chile). The Puerto Rican towns of Orocovis and Morovis were plagued in March 1995 by the killing of their animals. The bodies of goats, chickens and other small farm animals were found with their blood drained out through a neat single puncture wound. Additional sightings and dead animals were reported in a number of parts of Puerto Rico through the fall of 1995. Osvaldo Claudio Rosado, a 44-year-old in Guanica, said he had been grabbed by a gorilla, but Puerto Rico does not have any gorillas. Several other witnessess said they had seen the Chupacabra in broad daylight. The sightings of the Chupacabra and its reported killings are, however, not limited to Puerto Rico. Miami, New York, San Antonio, Cambridge, and San Franscisco have all reported sightings

Over the centuries, Dragons have been reported all over the world. There are 9 different types of dragons: Amphitheres (no legs, wings), Lindworms (2 legs, no wings), Frosts (4 legs, wings), Marsupials (4 legs, small wings), Asian Lungs (4 legs, no wings), Gargouilles (4 legs, wings), Knuckers (4 wings), Europeans (4 legs, wings), and Wyverns (2 legs, wings).

The American Amphithere lair is nestled among giant boulders. It is 15 feet long and 8 to 10 feet high. It is a rainbow of colors, and it eats buffalo, mustang, or other large plains dwellers. The Mexican Amphitheres are very solitary creatures. They do, however, gather each year in a huge flock for breeding purposes. After just a short time, they go back to their individual lairs. Their wingspan reaches nearly 30 feet. They also have enormous tongues -- up to 6 feet long.

Marsupials live in rocky caves in Blue Mountain eucalypt forests. They are 25 feet long and 15 to 18 feet high. They are green or bluish in color. Their food is any large marsupial, sometimes smaller prey.

Asian Lungs live in underwater caves and can be up to 40 feet long and 12 to 15 feet high. They eat mainly fish and birds. Coloration can be blue, white, red, or yellow. People in China say that an Asian Lung gave the gift of writing to the emperor. A note of interest, the oldest dragon was an Asian Lung who lived to be 730 years old.

Gargouilles live among tree tops or sit unnoticed atop the walls of castles and cathedrals. They eat rats, bats, and cats, and can be slate, gray, or green.

Knuckers live in damp locations near food sources, like a pond, well, or "knucker hole". They also cannot fly. They eat rabbits, deer, farm animals, and stray children. Their coloration varies from leathery brown to dull red to greenish blue. Europeans live in mountains or sea caves in Europe. They can be up to 45 feet long and 17 feet high. They are usually red, green, black, or gold and eat cattle, sheep, and humans (if no other food is available, due to bitter taste).

Wyverns live in Africa and eat elephants, hippos, rhinos, or other large herbivores. They also can grow 50 feet long and 18 to 20 feet high. They can be muddy brown to lime green in color.

One of the oldest mysterious creatures is the Unicorn. It has been in Chinese mythology for thousands of years. Its most familiar form is a beast with the body of a deer, tail of an ox, horses hooves, and a single horn growing from the center of its forehead. The hair on its back has the 5 sacred Chinese colors of white, black, red, yellow, and blue. To the Chinese the Unicorn was a symbol of good, but to the Japanese it was fear. It was said that the Unicorn could recognize guilt, and would carry out the execution by spearing the guilty party with its horn. Kardadann, an Arabian Unicorn, supposedly had magical qualities. Its horn was a good-luck charm against scorpions, and demons could be gotten rid of by eating its meat.

Probably the earliest mention of the Unicorn was by Herodotus in the 3rd century B.C. The writings of Ctesias, a Greek physician and historian who traveled to Persia, provide an account of stories from India about a creature the size of a horse with a white body, red head, blue eyes, and a horn on its forehead a cubit long. Ctesias portrayed the Unicorn as very swift, untamable and almost impossible to capture. Leonardo da Vinci wrote that the Unicorn's intemperance, lack of self-control, and love it has for fair maidens will cause it toput aside its fear. It will go up to a seated damsel, go to sleep in her lap, and then hunters could attack it.

This beast was said to have special attributes. According to Sir Thomas Browne in his Pseudodoxia Epidemica, poison could be neutralized by drinking from a cup made from its horn. Ground Unicorn horn was claimed to cure fever, plague, epilepsy, rabies, gout, and many other ailments. Unicorn leather made into shoes would assure healthy feet and legs, and as a belt warded off plague and fever. Jewelry made from the horn would protect the wearer from evil. Belief in the Unicorns power was widely accepted in England until the mid-1700's.

The Unicorn's horn was so expensive that only royalty or the very rich could afford it. Needless to say, many such horns were actually made from bull, goat, or exotic animal horns. Complete Unicorn horns often turned out to be the long, spirally twisted tusks of the male narwhal (a large marine animal). The only known land animal to have a single horn is the rhinocerous, so some presume that the legend comes from European encounters with these animals during their travels through Africa. Another theory is that the oryx, an antelope with two long thin horns on its forehead, when seen from the side appears to have only one horn.

Lastly, the eland (a large antelope) of Southern Africa has been associated with mystical connotations because it will defend itself and others against lions, even killing them. In the area of Cape Town, one-horned eland are known to occur naturally, perhaps as the result of a recessive gene. The Unicorn really became a part of Western culture mainly because of its associations with the Bible. According to the book of Genesis, God gave Adam the task of naming all of the animals. In some translations of the Bible, the Unicorn was the first animal named, elevating it above all other beasts in the universe. When Adam and Eve left paradise, the Unicorn went with them. The Bible also offers an explanation about why the Unicorn has not been seen for so long. During the flood that covered the earth for 40 days and 40 nights, Noah took 2 of each kind of animal to safety; but Unicorns were not among them.

Greek Mythology
There are a number of creatures in Greek mytholog including the Centaur, Argus, Cerberous, Chimera, Cyclops, Echidna, the Eumenides, Harpies, the Gargons, the Sirens, Scylla, and Sphinx. Centaurs are creatures that are half-man and half-horse, and which grazed in the plains of Thessaly. Hercules killed the evil centaurs, but the good centaurs instructed heros. There was even one, named Chiron, who was so good that he was made the personal physician and tutor of the gods. There is a permanent exhibit at the University of Tennessee's Hodges Library entitled "Do you believe in Centaurs?"

Argus is probably best known for his 100 eyes, which are said to have been put on the peacock's tail by Hera after Hermes beheaded him. Cerberous was the three-headed dog with a serpent tail that guards the entrance to the mythological underworld, Hades. Chimera was Cerberous' sister. She was part lion, part goat, spits fire, and had a serpent tail. Cyclops was a one-eyed monster. Echidna was the mother of Cerberus, Chimera, Hydra, Orthos, and the Sphinx. She was half-woman and half-serpent.

The Eumenides were three sisters, Alecto, Tisiphone, and Megaera, who had serpent-hair and used whips. In Roman mythology they were called the Furies, and they pursued and punished evildoers. Harpies were vultures whose faces looked like hungry old women. They smelled even worse than they looked. The only thing that would scare them away was the sound of a brass band. The Gorgons were three sisters named Medusa, Stheno, and Eurate. Stheno and Eurate looked like elephants with wings, and Medusa had been transformed by the jealous goddess Athena from a lovely maiden into a hideous creature that no one could look at without being turned to stone.

The Sirens were a couple of sea nymphs with feathers and fish tails. Their song was said to be irresistible to sailors, who would go so far as to abandon their ships and die in the current surrounding the Sirens' island. Scylla was turned into part woman, part fish, with five heads and the heads of dogs growing around her waist by a sorceress named Circe. She lived above the Strait of Messina in a cave, where she ate any sailor who came too close. The Sphinx had the head of a woman, the body of a lion, a serpent's tail, and wings. She sat outside the city of Thebes, ready to pose a riddle to any wanderer who came by. If they did not give the correct answer, she would eat them.

Other Monsters
There are a few additional miscellaneous monsters I would like to mention: the Bunyip, mermaids, Ogopogo, Manicore, and griffons. The Bunyip was an Australian water devil. Sailors would often mistake manatees for mermaids, half-woman and half-fish. In Canada, before Europeans moved to North America, Ogopogo was named Natiaka or Lake Monster. The Manicore had the body of a lion, a man's face, and a scorpion's stinger on its tail. Griffons were half-eagle, half-lion, and about 8 times bigger than a regular lion. Their claws would change color when they come into contact with poison. They ate horses and fed humans to their young. They laid their eggs in nests made of gold, and the eggs themselves were precious stones.

These "monsters" all have one thing in common, some people have doubts about their existence. Out of all of the monsters mentioned so far, the Jersey Devil has the most sightings and therefore is most likely to be real. Some of us have our doubts, but as for me, I believe they all exist, one way or another.

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