A luminescent slug slimes across the deep seafloor. A stray dog with two noses sneezes to camera. An underwater worm seemingly disintegrates in mid-air. It’s what they do to release eggs and sperm, apparently. This is what you see when you enter @crypt0cryptids, the fast-growing Instagram account documenting strange and surreal creatures from across the world.
For those who don’t know, a cryptid is the name given to a creature whose existence hasn’t been proven by science, so as you can imagine, what classifies as a cryptid is pretty vast – they span anything from mythological beasts and folk monsters to deep-sea creatures yet to be discovered by humans. Admittedly, most of the animals featured on @crypt0cryptids aren’t actual cryptids – they’re definitely uncommon, but photo evidence, and the fact that we can identify them, is proof that they exist, at least by scientific standards. But there’s an undeniable freakiness across the board that makes them appear unreal simply because they’re so unlike anything we’re used to seeing.
“Cryptids are wavy creatures that walk among us,” says the anonymous user behind the account. “People like cryptids because they think they’re cool, so that’s the main thing that excites people. But people also like myths and it’s nice to think that there are mysterious creatures out there unknown to science.”
Scrolling @crypt0cryptids feels like the digital adjacent to leafing through a mediaeval bestiary. Each creature is wildly different but there’s a cohesive aesthetic that permeates throughout the account – namely, alien-looking animals with an unreal edge. Some have abnormalities, while others (usually the deep-sea kind) appear like something plucked straight out of a HP Lovecraft novel, or Giger’s Necronom (this fire worm, especially). There are deformed piglets and ribbon worms that spew out weird veins, two-headed turtles and fantastical freshwater vertebrates.
These creatures are so beyond our understanding, yet having them appear so readily on our screens makes them subject to intrigue. So, while the chances of ever running into a 392 year old shark or a bloodworm in our day-to-day lives is near-zero, we can use our imagination to fill in the blanks.