News Article

News Article

Cryptid Catalog: 'The Tsuchinoko'

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Like our last entry on the fabled "Lizard Man" of South Carolina, today's cryptid curiosity, which hails from the smaller islands of Japan, is also reptilian in nature: the weird, bloated serpent known as the Tsuchinoko (also known as Nozuchi, Bachi-Hebi and other names) is apparently much smaller, but according to legend it's often just as dangerous.
 
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Descriptions vary from one region to another, but most depictions of the Tsuchinoko portray it as a sort of bloated snake about a yard long, usually a dark color, and sometimes with demonic or human-like facial features and the ability to leap in the air and/or grab its own tail and roll like a wheel. In most tales, it's said to have huge fangs secreting deadly venom, but tends to avoid contact with humans. Some legends say it can mimic a human voice, and has a taste for alcohol, leading to stories of the Tsuchinoko tricking people into offering it booze.
 
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Accounts of the Tsuchinoko date all the way back to the 8th Century – the earliest known descriptions are found in the Kojiki, the oldest known book of Japanese history – and not only do sightings of the creature still persist today (there's even a long-standing reward for its capture in some towns), but like many legendary monsters, it's become a regular staple of Japanese culture. Fans of Pokemon claim it's the inspiration for the droopy-eyed  “Dunsparce” (pictured below); it's made appearances in anime shows like Uchurei; and gamers know the monster from Metal Gear Solid, in which a player wins a major trophy for capturing it. For a creature that is probably based on exaggerated accounts of various snakes and lizards, the Tsuchinoko legend has some serious staying power.
 
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