As you walk through the trails of UCSC’s campus, you hear a sudden stir in the dense forestry. You stop and think, “It’s probably just another deer. Maybe a raccoon, or even a coyote.”
But what if it was something stranger?
For centuries, we’ve come up with myths and legends explaining observations that stretch our sense of reality. A cryptid is born when a creature is popularized by local folklore and claimed to exist based on eyewitness accounts, but ultimately remains unconfirmed. When Puerto Rico has the Chupacabra, Scotland has the Loch Ness Monster, it raises the question: What cryptids do we have here in Santa Cruz?
A cousin to the famous Bigfoot, Largehand is a giant hominid localized to the Santa Cruz area. Reported to walk upright on its hind legs, the creature is roughly seven feet in height when fully matured with a stocky, ape-like build. The creature is covered in shaggy black hair except over its small, pointed face. Largehand and Bigfoot share many similarities in size and composition. However, the key distinguishing feature between the two is the relative sizes of their hands and feet. While Bigfoot is known for its large footprint, Largehand’s defining characteristic is its disproportionately large hands. When standing tall, its bulky hands begin at its waist with fingers dangling down several feet to the ground. This helps distinguish its footprints from those of other creatures. Evidence of Largehand’s knuckles dragging through the dirt is seen with every step as large continuous grooves in the ground.
Largehand is most commonly spotted at the Pogonip meadow or surrounding forest on Sunday mornings, especially following weekends of high party activity. Largehand is always seen maintaining the meadow, cleaning up trash and contraband left behind from the night before. Largehand is a gentle creature, only becoming hostile when it catches someone littering.
Sock serpents are a small, semi-aquatic pest notorious for disrupting laundry day. When laying flat with their flippers outstretched, these miniature serpents measure up to seven inches in length and four inches in width. Their long necks account for just under half their length. At the base of their necks are gills they can utilize when submerged in the soapy water of a laundry machine. Sock serpents have adapted thick, leathery skin to protect them from harsh detergents and turbulent spin cycles. Their skin is usually white or silver with a metallic sheen, which camouflages them as they hide in the back of washers or dryers. Sock serpents are characterized by their appetite for clothing. For this reason, they have developed long, pointed teeth to easily shred fabric.
While physical sightings of the Sock serpent have been few and far between, evidence of their feedings is seen nearly every day. Sock serpent feedings are often interpreted as the disappearance of garments such as socks, gloves, and face masks from laundry. While it prefers these bite-sized articles of clothing, serpents are also known to nibble on larger knitted materials, often fraying sweaters and other delicate clothes.
Mammoth slugs are giant terrestrial gastropods related to the commonly-known banana slug. They can grow to be as long as 30 feet from tail to antenna and weigh as much as five tons. These enormous slugs are usually yellow with occasional brown or black spots, and move at a rate that can only be defined as “sluggish.” They slither by contracting and expanding the large muscles of their foot, producing several gallons of slime per minute to help aid in motion. Despite having eyes the size of basketballs, these creatures exhibit very poor eyesight, only able to perceive light and simple shapes.
Mammoth slugs like to roam in the wide-open space of the Lower Quarry. They are commonly seen crossing the road on weekdays at times of peak traffic. Mammoth slug experts, or mammothrologists, hypothesize that slug crossings account for most delays in campus bus schedules. Due to the size and general shape of the buses passing through lower campus, juvenile Mammoth slugs sometimes confuse these vehicles with their mothers. The slugs will then continuously obstruct the bus’s path in order to be near it.
Two-headed turkeys are elusive birds born out of a genetic mutation in the common bronze turkey. The average two-headed turkey stands 48 inches tall and can weigh up to 18 pounds. When observed from afar, they are often mistaken as two separate birds standing close together. However, as its name would suggest, this creature is one turkey with two heads. Despite its odd appearance, the two-headed turkey has been able to survive in the gene pool because the two heads offer twice the peripheral vision to help it better evade predators.
So far, two-headed turkeys have only been spotted near McHenry Library and the Science and Engineering Library. Researchers predict that since a single bird carries and shares twice the brain matter, they exhibit more curiosity than normal turkeys and thus like to be near large sources of information. Two-headed turkey sightings have been said to bring good luck in academics. For instance, a student who spots one of these turkeys while studying will ace all of their finals.