Stories persist of a mysterious creature living among the densely forested Ozark Mountains in America. Living in remote and isolated areas across this land are people claiming that this strange beast is real. Roaming silently at night among the pine and oak trees of the forest. Some call it cat like, others dog like and some, even, bear like. A large animal, four feet tall to its shoulders, with a thick body, stocky legs and covered in black shaggy fur. Some even say that it has horns and that its eyes glow red. Perhaps most famed for its haunting, piercing, and terrifying cry, one many describe as a combination of a wolf’s howl, an elk’s bugle, and a hyena’s laugh. A legend of the Ozarks…
This legendary beast was first sighted back in the early 1800s. Back then, numerous locals reported stories of sightings of this ghastly foe. These small and local newspapers had no money to offer these locals. They certainly had nothing to gain by making up stories of some unusual sightings. They were honest and reliable folks. And it wasn’t just the locals. Tens upon tens of university students passing through the area, over many years, reportedly witnessed this animal. These newspaper articles paint a picture of a terrifying beast, one that the locals believed could cause the death of any human to catch the attention of the creature, merely with one fatal glare from it.
Many believe it’s a hoax. A series of emails were sent around to a variety of people, emails packed with ‘evidence’ of the animal’s existence. But these emails were traced back to a university student who reportedly had a bet that he could fool others with his tangled web of fiction. A fanciful imagination from an exuberant youth. But remember, the stories go back long before the digital age. Maybe this person ‘intensified’ the tale, perhaps reignited the fire, but he certainly didn’t invent it.
The sightings go back to the early 1800s. All the descriptions are similar, with many identical. There is a consistency between these sightings by many who swear by its existence. Many who hadn’t even heard of the Howler. And the sightings continue to this very day. There was one this year in Benton County, in Arkansas. Anthropologists say that the beast is some sort of unknown species of big cat or maybe even a misidentified big cat. Perhaps a cougar or a lynx. But there remains one final intriguing theory.
The first settlers of the area, who were the first to report the sightings, were Irish, Scottish and English. And they knew of a tale of the Black Dog of Death, a famed cryptid from British and Irish folklore. One that bears a striking similarity with the Howler. They do share many traits. Plus, the indigenous peoples of America had their own tales of sabretooth cats and other such animals that were either long extinct or had never existed. Some think the combination of two folkloric beliefs combined to create the Howler of the Ozarks. A new thing to fear.
Does it exist? Perhaps. Certainly some traits are exaggerated. It’s likely, if it does exist, that it’s something we already know about. But that doesn’t deter from the magic of the legend, does it? After all, many tales have elements of truth buried deep within them…
So I’ll give this creature a 75 on my patented Cryptid-o-Meter, putting it 6th in the list of 25, with the Basilisk still bottom and the Beast of Gévauden still holding top spot.
The Ozark Howler. A fascinating cryptid indeed.
Images (Click on Them to Enlarge)
1 & 2) Two very different artist’s impressions of the Ozark Howler
(credits: cryptidz.wikia.com/wiki/Ozark_Howler & mysteriousuniverse.org/2015/03/exploring-american-monsters-arkansas)
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