Today's article has an intriguing title: the idea that there could be creatures deep below us - and we barely know about it. With that said, let's look into things. One of the most fascinating of all monster-themed stories comes from the renowned explorer, Marco Polo (1254-1324), who told of animals that eerily sound like dragons in the province of Carajan, which falls under the region of Yunnan, in southern China. Polo’s description of the beasts is as intriguing as it is bizarre and puzzling. In his own, legendary words: “In this province are found snakes and great serpents of such vast size as to strike fear into those who see them, and so hideous that the very account of them must excite the wonder of those to hear it. I will tell you how long and big they are. You may be assured that some of them are ten paces in length; some are more and some less. And in bulk they are equal to a great cask, for the bigger ones are about ten palms in girth. They have two forelegs near the head, but for foot nothing but a claw like the claw of a hawk or that of a lion. The head is very big, and the eyes are bigger than a great loaf of bread. The mouth is large enough to swallow a man whole, and is garnished with great [pointed] teeth. And in short they are so fierce-looking and so hideously ugly, that every man and beast must stand in fear and trembling of them. There are also smaller ones, such as of eight paces long, and of five, and of one pace only." Now, consider the following, intriguing words:
“The way in which they are caught is this. You must know that by day they live underground because of the great heat, and in the night they go out to feed, and devour every animal they can catch [italics mine]. They go also to drink at the rivers and lakes and springs. And their weight is so great that when they travel in search of food or drink, as they do by night, the tail makes a great furrow in the soil as if a full ton of liquor had been dragged along. Now the huntsmen who go after them take them by certain gyn which they set in the track over which the serpent has past, knowing that the beast will come back the same way. They plant a stake deep in the ground and fix on the head of this a sharp blade of steel made like a razor or a lance-point, and then they cover the whole with sand so that the serpent cannot see it. Indeed the huntsman plants several such stakes and blades on the track. On coming to the spot the beast strikes against the iron blade with such force that it enters his breast and rives him up to the navel, so that he dies on the spot and the crows on seeing the brute dead begin to caw, and then the huntsmen know that the serpent is dead and come in search of him." The story continues:
“This then is the way these beasts are taken. Those who take them proceed to extract the gall from the inside, and this sells at a great price; for you must know it furnishes the material for a most precious medicine. Thus if a person is bitten by a mad dog, and they give him but a small pennyweight of this medicine to drink, he is cured in a moment. Again if a woman is hard in labor they give her just such another dose and she is delivered at once. Yet again if one has any disease like the itch, or it may be worse, and applies a small quantity of this gall he shall speedily be cured. So you see why it sells at such a high price. They also sell the flesh of this serpent, for it is excellent eating, and the people are very fond of it. And when these serpents are very hungry, sometimes they will seek out the lairs of lions or bears or other large wild beasts, and devour their cubs, without the sire and dam being able to prevent it. Indeed if they catch the big ones themselves they devour them too; they can make no resistance.”
Now, to another underground enigma. Known and feared by those that call the Gobi Desert their home, the Mongolian Death Worm is a beast that has become legendary in monster-hunting circles. That, at least, is its westernized title. For the people of Mongolia, it’s Allergorhai horhai which translates into English as “intestine worm.” Its distasteful and monstrous moniker is derived from eyewitnesses to the creature, who say that it in physical appearance it resembles the stomach of a cow and is blood red in color. The Mongolian Death Worm can grow to lengths of five feet, is as thick as a man’s arm, and is best avoided at all costs. Indeed, it didn’t get its memorable name without reason. In addition, it predominantly lives underground. The creature has two ways in which it brings down its prey – which often includes people. It has the ability to spit, over distances of up to around twelve feet, an acid-like venom that can burn through clothing, skin, muscle, and right down to the bone; something which causes the skin of the victim to turn a sickly, jaundice-like yellow. The coiling terror can also emit a powerful and fatal electric shock that – in a fashion not unlike an electric eel – kills or stuns its prey, thus allowing it to move in and partake of a good meal. Now onto what we might term "ape men."
Interestingly, just like Bigfoot in the United States, the Yeren of the wilds of Russia and China comes in a variety of colors. Its hair has been described as red, brown, black, and even – on a few occasions – black. As for its height, while most reports describe creatures of around the average height of an adult human male to about eight feet, there are a number of cases involving colossal mountain monsters in excess of ten feet. Despite their imposing appearances, however, the Yeren are said to be relatively placid, quiet creatures that shun humankind. Sightings of the Yeren cannot be blamed upon hype born out of the fascination for Bigfoot. That much is made abundantly clear by the fact that reports of these immense animals have been reported for centuries. A translated, 17th century document from Hubei notes: “In the remote mountains of Fangxian County, there are rock caves, in which live hairy men as tall as three meters. They often come down to hunt dogs and chickens in the villages. They fight with whoever resists.” Let's go further...
In 1916, explorer Irwin J. O’Malley told a fascinating story of his discovery of the fossilized remains of a massive animal. That the creature was never formally identified has led to rumors that what O’Malley came upon were the remains of nothing less than an example of a legendary Chinese dragon! His story goes like this: “During the latter part of a holiday trip to the Yangtze Gorges undertaken by my wife and self in November, 1915, we met Mr. M. Hewlett, British Consul at Ichang, and his wife, and in their company spent a day in the Ichang Gorge, landing at various points to climb the cliffs and explore some of the numerous caves. While exploring a large cave on the right of the bank of the river, and about one mile above the Customs Station at Ping Shon Pa, we discovered the fossils about to be described. The cave is reputed by the Chinese to extend some twenty miles to a point near Ichang [italics mine]. It is reported that a party from H.M.S. Snipe spent three days in the cave some years ago and that they failed to reach the end. Evidence that the party penetrated beyond the point where the discovery was made exists in the name of their ship painted on the cave walls at a point considerably further in."
In her 1933 book, Shetland Traditional Lore, the noted folklorist Jessie Margaret Saxby, wrote: “The Wulver was a creature like a man with a wolf’s head. He had short brown hair all over him. His home was a cave dug out of the side of a steep knowe, half-way up a hill [italics mine]. He didn’t molest folk if folk didn’t molest him. He was fond of fishing, and had a small rock in the deep water which is known to this day as the ‘Wulver's Stane.’ There he would sit fishing sillaks and piltaks for hour after hour. He was reported to have frequently left a few fish on the window-sill of some poor body.” Unlike the traditional werewolf, the Wulver was not a shape-shifter. Its semi-human, semi-wolf appearance was natural and unchanging. Moving on: In the latter part of the 19th century a British adventurer and explorer named Hugh Nevill was told of a race of creatures that were part-human and part-ape but which were, by the time Nevill heard the story, dead and gone – somewhere in the vicinity of five human generations earlier. They resided in the southeast corner of Sri Lanka and, before their assumed extinction, were constantly at war with another race of hairy humanoids known as the Nittaewo. Both types of creature were fairly small; around four to five feet in height. They also shared a liking for living in deep, natural caves and caverns [italics mine], and had a love of fresh, raw meat. They were not totally savage, however, as is evidenced by their apparent use of primitive stone tools.
It was not their constant warring with each other that wiped out the Nittaewo and their unnamed furry foes, however: it was man. Reportedly, the last of the Nittaewos were killed in a violent confrontation at a cave in the Kattaragama Hills. A very similar story was told to an explorer named Frederick Lewis, a story that also suggested the Nittaewos were long gone. In this case, the account came from one Dissan Hamy, whose grandfather reportedly helped build a huge bonfire at the mouth of the cave, as a means to kill the creatures by smoke inhalation. And, there is this: one of the most thought-provoking theories for Bigfoot’s overwhelming elusiveness suggests that the creatures spend a great deal of time living in natural caves and caverns, as well as abandoned, old mines. We’re talking about the deep and dark world of Bigfoot. In the early 1900s, a number of stories surfaced in the Oregon press that, upon careful reflection, just might offer a degree of support for this particularly intriguing theory that Bigfoot is very much a creature of the underground. The reports are made all the more significant because they reference in excess of a decade of sightings of large, hair creature, all in a specific vicinity where underground digging was known to be widespread.
In 1900, the Curry County, Oregon newspaper reported on an amazing story: “The Sixes mining district in Curry County has for the past 30 years glorified in the exclusive possession of a kangaroo man.’ Recently while Wm. Page and Johnnie McCulloch, who are mining there [italics mine], went out hunting McCulloch saw the strange animal-man come down a stream to drink. In calling Page’s attention to the strange being it became frightened, and with cat-like agility, which has always been a leading characteristic, with a few bounds was out of sight.” Despite having been given the extremely odd nickname of the “kangaroo man,” the newspaper’s description of the beast is actually far more Bigfoot-like, as the following extract from the article clearly demonstrates: “The appearance of this animal is almost enough to terrorize the rugged mountainsides themselves. He is described as having the appearance of a man – a very good looking man – is nine feet in height with low forehead, hair hanging down near his eyes, and his body covered with a prolific growth of hair which nature has provided for his protection. Its hands reach almost to the ground and when its tracks were measured its feet were found to be 18 inches in length with five well formed toes. Whether this is a devil, some strange animal or a wild man is what Messrs. Page and McCulloch would like to know.”
Four years later, in 1904, the creature – or, at least, another, similar one of its kind – was yet again plaguing the mine-filled area. The press enthusiastically reported on the latest development: “At repeated intervals during the past ten years thrilling stories have come from the rugged Sixes mining district in Coos County, Oregon, near Myrtle Point, regarding a wild man or a queer and terrible monster which walks erect and which has been seen by scores of miners and prospectors. “The appearance again of the ‘Wild Man’ of the Sixes has thrown some of the miners into a state of excitement and fear. A report says the wild man has been seen three times since the 10th of last month. “The first appearance occurred on ‘Thompson Flat.’ Wm. Ward and a young man by the name of Burlison were sitting by the fire of their cabin one night when they heard something walking around the cabin which resembled a man walking and when it came to the corner of the cabin it took hold of the corner and gave the building a vigorous shake and kept up a frightful noise all the time — the same that has so many times warned the venturesome miners of the approach of the hairy man and caused them to flee in abject fear.
And, finally: "Dreaded Wild Men Strike Fear Into Indian Children was the eye-catching title of an article that jumped out of the pages of the March 3, 1934, edition of the Lethbridge Herald newspaper, which covered the Lethbridge area of Alberta, Canada. The story was a fascinating one, given that it focused on the often reported possibility that the Bigfoot creatures are able to remain out of harm’s way and detection by living in underground realms, such as ancient caverns and incredibly deep cave-systems [italics mine]. The article began by stating that Native American children in the vicinity of Harrison Mills, British Columbia, had been warned to stay close to “their mothers’ apron strings, for the fearsome ‘Sasquatch’ had returned to spread terror through peace-loving Chehalis tribes.” It was noted that although reports of the much feared creatures were all the rage in the area some three decades earlier, this was the first time, since around 1914, that they had been seen “on the prowl” in the area. It appeared that the first, most recent encounter came from a man named Frank Dan.
The Lethbridge Herald captivated its readers with the details of the uncanny event: “Investigating the persistent barking of his dog at night, Dan came face to face with a hairy giant who, according to Dan, was tall and muscular, prowling in the nude. He was covered in black hair from head to foot except for a small space around the eyes. Dan ran breathlessly into his house and secured the door. Peeking through the window, he saw the giant stride leisurely into the nearby bush and disappear.” The writer of the article noted something very interesting: “The Indians say the Sasquatch dwell in caves and subterranean caverns [italics mine] on the borders of lakes in the mountain vastnesses [sic]. Many strange tales are told of the appearances of the elusive people.” Despite the unsettling nature of the story, the newspaper finished on a humorous note, whether deliberate or not: “A Chehalis woman related that, when her husband was returning from the hunt with a score or more of ducks he had shot, a Sasquatch stepped out of the bush and took the ducks from him – except one, which the giant stuffed into the shirt of the frightened Indian.”
All of this tells us that perhaps, to find the cryptids in our world, we should be looking deep below, rather than in woods and forests.