Alabama is probably not be the first state that comes to mind when you think of cryptids. A cryptid, in case you aren't aware, is any animal or creature that people claim is real but mainstream science does not accept to actually exist. Creatures such as Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster, for example. Alabama is known as more of a football, barbeque and southern hospitality kind of state. We just don't seem to have our fair share of mythical beasts roaming around ....or do we? We do have a lot of "double cousins" in north Alabama....so anything's possible, right? I included the Chupacabra of Sheffield, Alabama, in my last article: "Urban Legends of the Shoals" (read it here) - but you might be surprised at just how many unknown and sometimes ungodly varmints roam our hills and hollers. Read along to find out about 5 of my favorites: Cryptids, Monsters, and Mystery Animals of Alabama.
1. Mobile Wolf Woman
This may fall under the "only in Alabama" category. According to reports, in early April of 1971, residents around Davis Avenue in Mobile spotted some kind of woman/wolf hybrid roaming the area. It wasn't just a couple of people who spotted the "she-beast," either. Apparently, there were so many people being approached, frightened and sometimes chased by her, that the Mobile Register covered the story - complete with an artist's rendering of her description. After the story was published, even MORE eyewitnesses came forward. Over 50 people, in fact. One witness said, "It was like a woman and wolf, pretty and hairy." So what exactly was this feminine looking 4 legged creature? We don't know. As suddenly as she appeared and was spotted for only a couple of weeks, she seemingly vanished...forever. At least when she did make her one and only big appearance, she was obviously looking her best. After all, it's not everyday that an unknown beast is described as "pretty." This was one cryptid that had it going on. You go girlfriend! My personal thoughts are that her description as "pretty" with feminine features and long hair sounds more like a mermaid - especially being spotted right on the Gulf Coast in Mobile. The only part that doesn't fit with mermaid mythology is her lower wolf body. Maybe she was a part dogfish...
2. Bigfoot in Alabama?
In November 2017, Evergreen, a small town along Interstate I65 between Montgomery and Mobile was designated as the "Bigfoot Capital of Alabama." Evergreen was already known as the "Collard Green Capital of Alabama," but as much as we love our collard greens in the south, apparently we love bringing attention to our bigfoot sightings, too - and Evergreen and the surrounding county of Conecuh has had it's fair share in the last several years. "We had so many sightings of Bigfoot we decided to have fun with it," Evergreen Mayor Luther Upton told local WSFA News, and although they are having fun with the city title, many residents swear by their sightings and take them very seriously. They say it's a massive 8 to 10 foot tall bipedal creature covered in dark hair with yellow eyes (read the WSFA article here). Evergreen is not the only place in Alabama where bigfoot may be roaming around. Sightings of a similar creature have been reported all over Alabama. The Bigfoot Field Research Organization or BFRO has a website which breaks down sightings that are reported to them by each county in Alabama (see it here) with the latest sighting coming from Baldwin County in 2021. Keep in mind that those are only sightings reported to the BRFO, however. There are many more serious Alabama sightings reported on social media platforms multple Facebook groups and pages dedicated to Alabama eye witness accounts. Bigfoot tales in our state are not new, afterall. Native American folklore of Alabama included many stories of creatures whose descriptions seem eerily similar to bigfoot and early settlers had many encounters, as well. Often, those cryptids are hard to find when searching for bigfoot sightings and legends because they were usually given regional and local names as this was prior to our modern moniker of "bigfoot."
3. The Alabama White Thang
That's no typo, by the way. We spell it like we say it in Alabama sometimes - and this one is a "thang." Peculiar to upper central and north Alabama tales have been told for well over a century about another large ape-like cryptid very similar to bigfoot - but with one glaring exception: the fur covering the creature is white. Also known as the "Hollering Thang," this beast emits a very loud scream or howl which many witnesses describe as sounding like a woman's scream. Although eyewitness accounts vary, the majority of descriptions are so similar to those of bigfoot that many researchers believe the Alabama White Thang could possibly be a related species or possibly an albino bigfoot. Until more evidence is found - we just don't know. In the meantime, I'd like to dedicate a song to my local crytpid: (singing) "White Thang...You make my heart sang...You make everything...groovy...White Thang. For more White Thang commentary and eyewitness accounts, Spectral Wolfpack Paranormal of Alabama has a great video (see it here).
4. Black Panther
This one is complicated. Regular sightings of a large black panther persist across the United States - and Alabama is no stranger to these sightings. In May of 2018, several witnesses near Dadeville spotted what they described as a "black panther" in an area at Logan Martin Lake, according to WSFA News 12. A local recreational area, Bama Park, put a warning on their Facebook page: "Please be advised that there have been multiple confirmed sightings recently of a black panther in our area." The local police chief admitted that he had several calls and some of the photos he had seen looked compelling. (Read the full article here). There's only one problem with reports such as this of a black panther: experts say they don't exist. Supposedly, there has never been a black panther born and documented anywhere in the world in recorded history. Nowhere, none, nada. Panther is actually another name for the mountain lion or cougar - these big cats have several names - but they just don't come in black as far as we know (check here ). Now, about the mountain lion (the big tan colored mountain lion): people have been spotting those in Alabama for years, too, but the powers that be said that was impossible. There have now been documented sightings of tan colored mountain lions in Tennessee (see it here), so its very likely they are in Alabama in very small numbers (read it here). But there again - that big cat known by many names is not black. So what big cats can be solid black? The leopard can be black - but it's native to Africa and Asia. The jaguar can also be black - but it lives in South America and Mexico. The farthest north it's been spotted is just across the border of Arizona. I warned you that this was complicated. So, what about all these stories of black panthers? Many found online contain misinformation. In 2010, a story was widely circulated that a Marshall County man had been attacked by a black panther. Multiple news stories can be found online to this day stating that a black panther attacked Frank Harmes of Union Grove. However, if you dig deep enough for an accurate interview with Mr. Harmes, you'll see that he himself never said he was attaced by a black panther. He described the panther as tan and looking like a Florida panther which is also tan (read it here). So, what do we do with all these sightings of black panthers in Alabama? Wildlife officials say the sightings are misidentified bobcats and regular domestic housecats. Some, maybe - but I have a hard time accepting that every sighting is a case of mistaken identity. Many of the witnesses are very credible and seasoned outdoorsmen who would know the difference. In my opinion, there are several possibilities of what these solid black big cats could be:
▪︎ Escaped black jaguar or leopard from a private owner
▪︎ The black jaguar has made it's way from
South America and Mexico to Alabama
▪︎ There is an unknown species of big cat out there - possibly a hybrid such as the Pumapard which is a cougar/leopard mix (see it here).
Until one of these large mystery black cats is positively identified or captured, it will remain a mystery.
5. Coosa River Monster
In 1816, a letter was written to the Gadsden Times concerning an encounter with what local settlers called a sea monster. The monster was found half in the water and half on the bank and seemed to be sick. It was killed by the locals who then began to cut the monster open. To their surprise, they found the monster had eaten and swallowed what they described as "an Indian, a canoe, a bow and arrows, a deer and a rifle." In 1862 the serpent was spotted again by a woman in the area who said it floated on top of the water, made a hissing sound and terrified her. Two more eyewitnesses including a local judge saw it soon afterward and also noted a hissing sound. A few years later, even more sightings occurred. Marcus Foster, a respected young resident, thought he saw a man standing in a boat across the water and rowed over in his own boat to meet him. As he came within 50 feet of the man, he realized that it was a large creature instead with it's head and neck protruding from the water around 3 feet. He said it had a horse-like face, a fiery red tongue and big glowing bulging eyes. Three more times that year the serpent was spotted in the Coosa River and described as black in color. In 1882, a Gadsden Times reporter came to the area to investigate the monster himself. While in a rowboat, he saw a large clump of dark leaves and grass rise to the surface of the river, bubbling with gases and foam caused from their deterioration in the water. He promptly reported that he had solved the mystery. This put an end to the stories for a long time and certainly halted the paper from reporting any new sightings. However, to this day the people who live along the Coosa will tell you that the sightings never really stopped. Reports of alligator like creatures and sea serpents continue to this day. It's been said that the native Americans who lived on the Coosa long before the settlers also told stories of a large serpent type beast who lived in the river. I found an interesting legend that originated with the Muskogee-Creek tribe of lower Georgia that describes a hissing sea monster with bulging eyes. Georgia borders Alabama near the Coosa River and long ago the area around Gadsden on the Coosa was inhabited by a band of the Muskogee-Creek. Could it be the same creature in both stories? Read more of the Muskogee-Creek legend here. Could something ancient and unknown reside deep in the Coosa River? If you live nearby, keep your camera ready!
Those are only 5 of the cryptids and mystery animals spotted in Alabama and only a fraction of some of the truly odd and interesting things found in our state. Follow me to see what I find in the future!