Somewhat less famous than its neighbor in Loch Ness, the Loch Oich Monster is known from the Great Glen of Scotland and Inverness-shire.
It was notably spotted on August 13, 1936 by Alderman Richards and his companions while out boating on Loch Oich near Laggan. They described the monster as a strange creature with two humps, like a snake’s coils, each three feet in height, three feet long, and three feet apart. The head was shaggy and like that of a dog. The entire body was black in color.
Fleming, M. (2002) Not of this World: Creatures of the Supernatural in Scotland. Mercat Press, Edinburgh.
MacGregor, A. A. (1937) The Peat-Fire Flame: Folk-tales and Traditions of the Highlands and Islands. The Moray Press, Edinburgh.
The Lomie is a beast found within the forests of Bohemia. It has a sac-like bladder under its neck. If pursued by hunters, it pauses at a nearby body of water to drink and fill up its neck-bladder. Then it runs, heating the water to boiling. When cornered by hunters and their dogs, it vomits the boiling water onto them, scalding them and making good its escape.
Heylyn merely refers to the water as boiling-hot. The Book of Marvels adds that the boiling water is incredibly toxic, causing incurable wounds and making skin and flesh slough off.
The name is derived from the Polish Lossie, the plural form of moose, while Los is singular. It is probably a typographical error on Heylyn’s part. Topsell lists Los and Lossie as synonyms for the elk or moose, and also ascribes the regurgitation of scalding water to the moose.
Heylyn, P. (1621) Microcosmus: A Little Description of the Great World. John Lichfield and James Short, Oxford.
Heylyn, P. (1636) Microcosmus: A Little Description of the Great World. William Turner, Oxford.
Heylyn, P. (1657) Cosmographie in Four Books. Henry Seile, London.
Topsell, E. (1658) The History of Four-footed Beasts. E. Cotes, London.
Various. (1996) Les Merveilles du Monde. Editions Anthese, Arcueil.
Off the shores of Andros Island in the Bahamas are the blue holes. These are deep submarine caves that appear as dark “holes” in the sea. Local lore claims that they are bottomless, and while it may be safe to sail over them, diving is perilous. The Lusca embodies the terror of these dark places and personifies their dangerous currents. The blue holes are littered with the skeletons of its victims and the wreckage of boats and outboard motors.
A lusca is a gigantic octopus or cuttlefish, sometimes said to be half octopus and half dragon. It is also known as a “giant scuttle”, where “scuttle” is the Bahamian term for octopus, and “Him of the Hands”, although it is unclear whether those are actual hands or merely a reference to cephalopod arms. Those arms can reach up to 75 feet (roughly 23 meters) long. They are dangerous because they can grab a boat or a fisherman from one end and anchor themselves to the bottom on the other; if they cannot make fast to the seafloor, they cannot pull their prey down.
The lusca shoots its “hands” out of the water to snatch anyone or anything that comes too close to a blue hole. A lusca can stop a two-master dead in the water, coiling its tentacles around the rudder while its “hands” reach up and feel around the deck. The moment the tentacles contact a human, they immediately pull the unfortunate sailor into the water.
George J. Benjamin and Jacques-Yves Cousteau were both warned of the dangers of the lusca, but failed to find any trace of the giant octopus. In fact, Benjamin succeeded in retrieving an outboard motor supposedly lost to a lusca, much to the bemusement of the motor’s proprietor.
Wood and Gennaro identify the St. Augustine blob, found on a Florida beach, as being the same animal as the lusca. As the blob was found to be a mass of connective tissue from a large vertebrate, probably a whale, this is unlikely.
Benjamin, G. J. (1970) Diving into the Blue Holes of the Bahamas. National Geographic, 138(3), pp. 347-363.
Cousteau, J. and Diolé, P. (1973) Trois Aventures de la Calypso. Flammarion.
Fodor, E. (1981) Fodor’s Caribbean and the Bahamas. Hodder and Stoughton, London.
Naish, D. (2016) Hunting Monsters: Cryptozoology and the Reality Behind the Myths. Arcturus, London.
Wood, F. G. and Gennaro, J. F. (1971) An Octopus Trilogy. Natural History, LXXX(3), pp. 15-24 and 84-87.
According to Pliny, the Lagopus (“hare foot”) or ptarmigan is so named because its feet are covered with hair like those of a hare’s foot. It is the size of a pigeon and white all over. While delicious to eat, the lagopus cannot be tamed or kept outside of its native land, and it putrefies rapidly when killed.
Thomas de Cantimpré misreads the allusion to the native ground of the lagopus, and instead deduces that the lagopus does not eat in the open air. Having made that conclusion, it is only logical that it must carry its food into a cave to eat it. Albertus Magnus makes the further logical deduction that the lagopus cannot fly well.
Although only the feet are described as hare-like, depictions show it with a hare’s head as well. It is often shown standing in front of a cave.
Aiken, P. (1947) The Animal History of Albertus Magnus and Thomas of Cantimpré. Speculum, 22(2), pp. 205-225.
de Cantimpré, T. (1280) Liber de natura rerum. Bibliothèque municipale de Valenciennes.
Cuba, J. (1539) Le iardin de santé. Philippe le Noir, Paris.
Magnus, A. (1545) Thierbuch. Jacob, Frankfurt.
Magnus, A. (1920) De Animalibus Libri XXVI. Aschendorffschen Verlagbuchhandlung, Münster.
Pliny; Holland, P. trans. (1847) Pliny’s Natural History. George Barclay, Castle Street, Leicester Square.
Unknown. (1538) Ortus Sanitatis. Joannes de Cereto de Tridino.
The Borana Oromo people of Ethiopia were once in thrall to the Liqimsa, “swallowers”. These were two vile man-eating monsters that looked like elephants, and they demanded a daily tribute of human flesh.
At this rate, the Borana knew they would be exterminated before long. Some fled their tormentors, settling in different areas and starting new lineages. Others went south, but the liqimsa followed them and swallowed them all.
Only thirty warriors survived and took refuge on the Namdur hill. Among those were two brothers – the elder was known for his cunning, and the younger renowned for his courage.
The older of the brothers faced the liqimsa and announced “By the grace of Waaqa, whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood will become immortal!” The two monsters began to argue, then fight, each claiming to more deserving of the gift of immortality. Soon they were uprooting trees and bludgeoning each other in their fury. This was the perfect opportunity for the younger brother to seize two lances, heat their points in fire, and run the monsters through their bellies.
With the liqimsa dead the Borana were free to repopulate and recolonize the areas they had lost, as well as conquer new regions and drive out their inhabitants.
Huntingford saw the legend of the liqimsa as a mythologizing of a historical event – namely, a series of military defeats inflicted by the Sidama people on the Borana.
The tale of Dhuga is probably derived from the liqimsa. Dhuga (“he drinks”) was bigger than an elephant and as tall as the Mega escarpment. A man would be sacrificed to him every day as food. This ended when a passing stranger released Dhuga’s current victim and attacked the monster while it was rolling in the dust to scratch its back and remove parasites. The stranger ran Dhuga’s belly through with a lance whose tip had been heated red-hot in fire, and that was the end of the monster.
Bader, C. (2000) Mythes et legendes de la Corne de l’Afrique. Editions Karthala, Paris.
Huntingford, G. W. B. (1955) The Galla of Ethiopia – The Kingdoms of Kafa and Janjero. International African Institute, London.
Nyanza is home to the Lukwata. The deeds and misdeeds of this great sea-serpent
are told on both sides of the lake, from Uganda to the Kavirondo (Winam) Gulf
in Kenya. The lukwata is commonly lumped with the dingonek, but the lukwata’s
pedigree is far older. Lukwata is also the name of a Baganda clay charm which,
when hidden in the king’s house, presents theft in the village, but this seems
has been around from time immemorial and makes occasional appearances. It is a
huge and terrifying lake demon, a serpent, a cetacean, or perhaps a giant fish.
It is associated with whirlpools in the lake. Ja-Luo fishermen have tales of
the lukwata attacking their canoes. The Baganda, Kavirondo, and Wasoga of the
north shore of lake Nyanza used to sacrifice livestock to it. The lukwata’s
disappearance coincided with the sleeping-sickness epidemic, and it was
believed that the muzungu
(foreigners) caused the disease by killing the lukwata, thus bringing its wrath
upon the people.
Provincial Commissioner of Jinja, saw a lukwata swimming down the Napoleon
Gulf; its head was out of the water but it was too far to make out its
features. Clement Hill of the Foreign Office had a far closer encounter when a
lukwata off Homa Mountain tried unsuccessfully to seize a man on the bow of
Hill’s ship. He saw a lizard-like head, roundish and dark-colored, on a
four-foot-long neck attached to a large, rounded mass that formed the body.
Some sort of tail seemed to be trailing behind.
Wayland, head of the Geological Survey of Uganda, claimed to have heard the
lukwata’s distant bellowing. He was shown pieces of lukwata bone, and was told
that the lukwata fought epic battles with crocodiles. Pieces of skin lost in
those struggles were used for potent amulets.
complete account of a lukwata’s appearance is recorded by H. Bell, who shot one
on the western border of Uganda near the Semliki River and Lake Albert. The
creature, which was identified as a small lukwata by a native boy, was deemed
to resemble Hill’s serpent. It had a snakelike head, a neck several inches
long, a tail a few inches long, and flippers like a sea turtle’s. Instead of a
hard shell, the lukwata had a thick, soft, rubbery carapace. Bell believed that
the lukwata – evidently an odd species of turtle – would, at the surface, give
the impression of a bulky, long-necked animal.
are not particularly smart. A Baganda folktale tells of the friendship between
a lukwata and a monkey. It came to pass that the King of the balukwata took
ill, and his wizard told him to eat the heart of a monkey as a cure. The King
offered great rewards to any of the balukwata who would bring him the heart of
a monkey. So the lukwata went to the home of his friend the monkey and hailed
him. “How are you? You should come visit me, my wife and sons want to see you”.
“But I cannot swim”, said the monkey. “I’ll carry you on my back”, said the
lukwata, and they were off. Halfway across the lake, the lukwata, having a
crisis of conscience, decided to tell the monkey the truth. “I’m really sorry,
but our King is sick and needs your heart”. The monkey thought fast. “You silly
thing”, he told the lukwata, “I don’t have my heart with me. I leave it behind
so I can jump through the trees. Take me back and I’ll fetch my heart from the
branch where I left it”. Of course, the unsuspecting lukwata swam back, and the
monkey escaped to safety in the trees – but not before mocking his erstwhile friend’s
(1948) Witches & Fishes. Edward
Arnold & Co., London.
B. (1910) In Closed Territory. A. C.
McClurg & Co., Chicago.
Cunningham, J. F. (1905)
Uganda and its peoples. Hutchinson
& Co., London.
Hattersley, C. W. (1900)
An English Boy’s Life and Adventures in
Uganda. The Religious Tract Society, London.
B.; Garnett, R. trans. (1958) On the Track of Unknown Animals. Rupert
W. (1913) On Some Unidentified Beasts.
The Journal of the East Africa and Uganda Natural History Society, III(6), pp.
H. (1902) The Uganda Protectorate.
Hutchinson & Co., London.
G. L. (1911) A Hand-book of Luganda.
Richard Clay & Sons, Limited, London.
The Loðsilungur, or “Shaggy Trout”, is one of
the most toxic fishes to inhabit Iceland. The earliest accounts date from the
mid-17th century, where it is obliquely referred to as the
“poisonous menace”. Illness and death follow the consumption of a loðsilungur.
The appearance of the Icelandic shaggy
trout varies, but a trout-like shape and the presence of hair are diagnostic.
Loðsilungurs tend to be ugly and strange. The one described in Nordri in 1855 had a beard of reddish
hair on its lower jaw and neck as well as hairy patches on its sides and hairy
fins. Another account distinguishes between trout with shaggy hair near the
front of their head, and trout with hairy manes on either side. The adipose fin
is either reduced or absent, and scales may not be present. The most detailed
description specifies that it is no bigger than an Arctic char, and is often
the size of a man’s finger. The tail is narrower and the front thicker than in
other trout. The small, deep-set eyes are set ahead of a bulbous skull. The
short snout has a distinctive overbite. The teeth are pitch black. Finally, the
loðsilungur is covered with fine, downy, cottony-white hair. This hair, the
namesake of the trout, resembles mold and is visible only when the fish is dead
and in the water; on dry land it lies flat against the scales and becomes
invisible. This makes it easier to confuse with edible trout – and makes it
that much more deadly.
Across Iceland the tale is told of a
tragic group poisoning. In 1692 the inhabitants of the farm called Gröf were
found dead around a table with a cooked loðsilungur. Two brothers in a hunting
lodge near Gunnarssonavatn Lake died with plates of trout on their knees. The
most notorious poisoning incident is that of the Kaldrani farm, where an entire
household were killed by a meal of loðsilungur. Only one young pauper girl had
no appetite at the time, and avoided a terrible death.
birds of prey, normally indiscriminate in their eating habits, will refuse to
eat a loðsilungur. The shaggy trout are also
tenacious and will cling stubbornly to life as long as possible. A group of
fishermen in Hoffellsvatn Lake found that out the hard way; they left a catch
of fish out overnight, only to find a live loðsilungur squirming on top of the
pile. The entire catch was discarded and the lake abandoned.
O. (1900) The Folk-lore of Icelandic Fishes. The Scottish Review,
October, pp. 312-332.
J. B. and Aegisson, S.; McQueen, F. J. M. and Kjartansson, R., trans. (2011) Meeting
with Monsters. JPV utgafa, Reykjavik.
The Làlomèna is found in the waterways of Madagascar. It has two very red horns and looks like an ox. It is among the strongest of aquatic animals, but little more is known of its appearance and attributes.
Sub-fossil remains of Madagascan hippos have been referred to as làlomèna bones.
Sibree, J. (1896) Madagascar Before the Conquest. Macmillan, New York.
[Guest art courtesy of the awesome Arlyn Reid! Let them know how much you like it!]
South of the Niu-Trees Mountain in China has red metal on its southern slope and white metal on its northern slope. It is also home to the Lushu, which looks like a horse with a white head, a red tail, and stripes like a tiger. Its cry is like a human singing. Wearing the lushu from one’s belt ensures the conception of many descendants.
While the Shan Hai Jing is unclear on the subject, Guo Pu clarifies that a piece of the lushu’s skin and hair ensures fertility. Its red tail may be a symbol of its vigor and potency.
The stripes suggest that the lushu may be inspired by a number of striped ungulates – zebras, wild donkeys, or even okapis. Mathieu cites the polygamy of zebras and the historical virility of donkeys, but it probably is not an extinct species of red-tailed zebra.
Mathieu, R. (1983) Étude sur la mythologie et l’ethnologie de la Chine ancienne. Collège de France, Paris.
Strassberg, R. E. (2002) A Chinese Bestiary: Strange Creatures from the Guideways Through Mountains and Seas. University of California Press.
Sometimes the toxicity of reptiles and amphibians was so powerful that their breath became a deadly weapon. The rarely-seen toads and salamanders in particular were blamed for all sorts of evil deeds.
The Lebraude is a sort of large lizard or salamander with black and yellow skin. It breathes once per day, and anything that contacts its noxious exhalation dies instantly. Humans perish, livestock expires, and even trees and grass wither up. In Puy de Dôme the Souffle (“Breath”) is a small snake or salamander whose breath kills anyone it sees first. Toads in Provence kill birds with their breath. In Vaucluse a salamander’s breath will cause humans to swell up until they die in their skin. The Souffle, Soufflet (“Bellows”), or Enfleboeuf (“Ox-sweller”) of Auvergne inflates and kills cattle.
Sometimes it is not the exhalation, but the inhalation that is feared. In the Cher, it was said that toads sucked bees out of hives, opening their mouths wide for the insects to come in. Reptiles born from a rooster’s egg in the Hautes-Pyrénées can inhale and swallow anything nearby, including birds and children.
Sébillot, P. (1906) Le Folk-lore de France, Tome Troisième: La Faune et la Flore. Librairie Orientale et Américaine, Paris.