By Ethan Shea
You probably know Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster (as shown above), but what about some more local creatures?
Cryptozoology is a branch of pseudoscience that studies creatures who are not recognized by science and whose existence has not been proven. This could be because a creature has gone extinct or because it has never been proven to exist. These creatures are grouped under the overarching label of cryptids.
Just a few famous cryptids have taken the vast majority of the spotlight from the lesser known ones. That’s why for this week’s installment of Cat in the Stax, I’ll be calling attention to some of Pennsylvania’s hometown cryptids.
No, the Squonk isn’t just the sound of your dog’s battered squeaky toy. This cryptid is said to live in the Pocono Mountains of northern Pennsylvania. It is a pig-like creature with wrinkly, wart-covered skin and tusks. The defining feature of the Squonk is its ability to dissolve into a pool of tears when it is threatened, making it impossible to capture.
The Raystown Ray is Pennsylvania’s own Loch Ness monster. Residing in Raystown Lake, Ray has appeared as a large, blurred figure swimming just below the surface of the lake. Luckily, this Ray is most likely a herbivore, as there is no evidence of attacks. Despite its name, the Raystown Ray is not exactly any sort of ray, it seems to be similar in build to the aforementioned Loch Ness monster, but no one knows what it looks like in great detail.
Montgomery County Monster/Bryn Athyn Beast
This cryptid is of the “dogman” category, which essentially means it seems to be a large, bipedal canine. This creature was not spotted in Pennsylvania until the 1990s, but reports of dogman creatures in the United States date back to the late-eighteenth century. As recently as late 2022, paranormal investigators traveled to the region to search for the allusive Bryn Athyn Beast.
Okay, this animal is not actually a cryptid, but because of environmental threats, it could one day become one. Not to mention that because of its size, this animal certainly looks mythical. The Eastern Hellbender is both the Pennsylvania state amphibian and the largest amphibian in North America. These salamanders can grow up to 29 inches long and way more than five pounds. In some states, this creature is already extinct, and local populations have been declining for more than 40 years. Currently, land preservation and research on breeding Hellbenders in captivity are being carried out to protect these beautiful, slimy critters.
To learn more about cryptozoology, check out our collection here at Falvey!
Ethan Shea is a second-year graduate student in the English department and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.
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