When it comes to the matter of Cryptozoology, the word “monster” pops up on so many occasions. I have to admit I use the word myself, a lot. In all probability, though, the vast majority of those “monsters” are real animals that have survived extinction, against all of the odds. For example, there is the Abominable Snowman (also known as the Yeti). We’re talking about a large (very large!) ape that roams the Himalayas. Certainly, today, there aren’t as many reports as there were in the 20th century. However, that doesn’t mean that the creatures are now extinct. There is another angle to this: China also has its very own equivalent of Bigfoot and the Yeti. Next to the legendary fire-breathing dragon, it’s China’s most famous monster: the Yeren, a huge, unidentified ape that almost certainly – in terms of its close proximity – has connections to the Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas, and the various, large and similar animals said to roam the huge mountains, such as the Nyalmo. While Yeren have been seen in a number of areas of China, certainly the one area – more than any other – that is a hotbed for sightings is Hubei, a province located in central China. It’s a vast place dominated by numerous mountains – including the Daba Mountains and the Wudang Mountains – and the Jianghang Plain. Hubei is also a province through which flows the massive, near-4,000-mile-long Yangtze River. It’s specifically the western portion of Hubei in which the Yeren has been spotted – an area noted for its dense forest and treacherous mountains. As for what the Yerens are, that is the big question: at the top of the list is Gigantopithecus, a massive, presumed extinct, ape that existed in China hundreds of thousands of years ago – and that, perhaps, may not be quite so extinct, after all. Could the Yeren, the Yeti, and Gigantopithecus all be one and the same? All having survived extinction? Maybe. Now, let’s look at another creature that is supposed to be long gone, but might not be.
The creature in question went by the name of Megalania prisca, a huge, vicious monitor lizard that roamed Australia at least as late as 40,000 years ago. It got its name thanks to one Richard Owen, a paleontologist of the 1800s. He was the man who has gone down in history as coining the term “Dinosauria,” or, “terrible reptile.” As for Megalania prisca, it very appropriately translates to “ancient giant butcher,” and/or “ancient great roamer.” Many might consider it utterly absurd to believe that significant numbers of thirty-foot-long monster-lizards could exist in stealth, in the wilds of Australia, and not be found, captured or killed. But, let’s take a look at what we know of this undeniably controversial saga. For years, reports have surfaced out of Australia of such creatures. Some of the old reports cited by Weird Australia sound very much like surviving examples of Megalania. Aaron Justice, in an article titled “Megalania Prisca: Dragon of the Australian Outback,” notes: “Megalania might not be constrained only to Australia – some sightings suggest it may live in New Guinea. A French priest in the 1960’s was traveling up river with a native guide in order to reach his mission. During the trip he spotted a large lizard lying on a fallen tree in the sun.”
Now, we come to a creature that certainly cannot be termed a “monster.” It has, however, been debated for a very long time as to whether or not it’s still around. Or not. It’s the Thylacine. Their correct title is Thylacinus cynocephalis, which translates as pouched dog with a wolf’s head. They are dog-sized, striped marsupials, with jaws that have the ability to open to almost 180 degrees. While the thylacine is generally accepted to have died out in Australia thousands of years ago, history has shown it clung on in Tasmania – roughly 150 miles from Australia – until quite recently. Not everyone, however, is so sure the creature is completely gone. How do we know? All thanks to the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service, and the Australian Government’s Freedom of Information Act, that’s how. Both the TPWS and the Australian government have declassified their files and records on the creature; they are filled with credible sightings of thylacines in Tasmania, and all of which post-date the 1930s; in some cases significantly so. In the TPWS’ own words: “Since 1936, no conclusive evidence of a thylacine has been found. However, the incidence of reported thylacine sightings has continued. Most sightings occur at night, in the north of the State, in or near areas where suitable habitat is still available. Although the species is now considered to be ‘probably extinct,’ these sightings provide some hope that the thylacine may still exist.”