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Mankind has always had a fascination with monsters. Mythologies from around the world include stories of strange and terrifying creatures, including the half-bull, half-human Minotaur of Greek myths, the living clay Golem of Jewish traditions, British elves and Chinese dragons.
Though these monsters are obviously fiction, only a century or two ago belief in the beasts was common. Modern monsters aren't quite so fantastic, and while most people doubt their existence, some are certain that unknown monsters inhabit our pale blue dot. It seems that every few months, monsters of one kind or another make the news. Sometimes it's a new fuzzy home video of something in the water at Loch Ness; other times it's a hunter's photo of what could be a Bigfoot — or a mangy bear.
Whether these monsters exist or not, the mysteries will always be with us.
BigfootSlide 2 of 21
Bigfoot is of course the world's marquee monster, having had pizzas and monster trucks named after it. Bigfoot is known not for what it is (since no one knows for certain what it is, or if it even exists), but what it supposedly leaves behind: large footprints. Bigfoot's high profile is largely due to a short film taken in 1967 in Bluff Creek, Calif. This is the classic footage of Bigfoot, showing a furry, man-sized creature walking across a clearing. The film has never been proven authentic, and many suspect a hoax.
It is also odd that the film remains the best evidence for Bigfoot 40 years later, despite the fact that video cameras are better, cheaper and in more hands than ever before; surely if it was not a hoax someone would have recorded a film as good or better since then. Perhaps Bigfoot's most amazing quality is its ability to leave no hard evidence of its existence. No teeth, bones, live nor dead specimens have been found. By one estimate, there should be hundreds of thousands of Bigfoot in North America, yet not one of them has been hit by a car, shot by a hunter, or found dead by a hiker.Slide 3 of 21
VampiresSlide 4 of 21
A century after Bram Stoker modeled his Dracula character after Romanian national hero Vlad Tepes, interest in vampires has never been stronger. From Dracula to the "Blade" films, from Anne Rice novels to "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," no single monster has captured the public's imagination the way vampires have. At once both sensual and scary, vampire lore has inspired a thriving goth subculture. Despite strong evidence that vampires are a fictional creation, some people even claim to be vampires, conducting arcane rituals and consuming blood from willing donors. Let's hope they show up for the blood drive!Slide 5 of 21
WerewolvesSlide 6 of 21
The fearsome werewolf is a fascinating blend of man and beast. Some believe that a werewolf terrorized the French countryside in 1764, when a strange wolflike creature killed dozens of villagers; the fictionalized story was depicted in the film "Brotherhood of the Wolf." The werewolf is only one variation of lycanthropy, the ancient belief that certain people have the ability to change into animals, either at will, on certain dates, or on full moons. Witches and vampires, for example, are said to become cats, bats, and wolves on occasion.
While the werewolf's origins are unclear, an unusual disease that causes excessive body hair (called hypertrichosis) may have contributed to belief in werewolves — in fact sideshow performers with the disease were once exhibited as werewolves or "wolfmen." The connection with the full moon likely came about because of wolves' and dogs' tendency to bark at the moon. But stories of silver bullets didn't arise until much later.Slide 7 of 21
Loch Ness MonsterSlide 8 of 21