A Moment of Science

Halloween’s Creepy Creature Countdown

A Moment of Science is unmasking Halloween's most notorious creatures of the night.

So what’s the story behind these legendary Halloween icons? A Moment of Science is here to find out! Turn on your night light and grab a friend, because this list is chock full of gruesome (and unwelcome) guests.

Creepy Creature Countdown

10. Goblins

These creatures rose to fame through many popular fairy tales. They are actually known more for their tricks than their terror. One legend says they hide out in forests and trick humans by snatching babies and replacing them with their own little goblins.

9. Demons

These “fallen angels” are known most simply as evil spirits. They are also commonly portrayed as the Devil’s minions. Other tales of demons that have haunted folklore and even modern entertainment are those of possession and exorcism.

8. Gargoyles

These ghouls are very real indeed! You can see them perched on many cathedrals and Gothic style buildings. Their mythical purpose may have been to ward off evil spirits, but they had a functional purpose as well. When they were first developed in the 13th century, they were used as gutters. The rain water was collected and simply spit from the gargoyle’s mouth!

7. Zombies

Sure, they’ve made quite an impact on the silver screen, but that’s not were they originated. Zombies are actually part of a Haiti voodoo myth. Ethnobiologists believe this idea may have come from a poisonous plant that (when eaten) actually put people in a zombie-like state.

6. Werewolves

This legend goes all the way back to ancient Greece. In medieval times, they were actually feared (and hunted) like “witches” were. Throughout history, many of the creatures on this list have jumped back and forth between myth and reality in people’s minds.

5. Jack-O-Lanterns

So maybe a pumpkin isn’t the scariest contender on the list, but jack-o-lanterns certainly are an exclusively Halloween symbol. This tradition has its origins in Celtic custom. The glowing faces were meant to frighten off evil spirits that wander the streets on Celtic New Years Eve (Oct. 31).

4. Bats

These blood suckers are 100% genuine mammal. You may see them flapping their wings tonight! They entered the world of folklore thanks to the legend of vampires, and possibly Ozzy Osbourne.

3. Witches

These cackling sorcerers have a rich and lengthy history in legend, folklore, religion, even in real historical events! Peak times for witch-hunting frenzy occurred in medieval Europe and in 17th century America, made most popular by the Salem witch trials.

2. Ghosts

The trick with specters is: which ones are friendly and which ones are haunting? Ghosts are often portrayed as floating, white figures, but they have taken many different forms over the years. While you may think that ghost stories are just for campfires and graveyards, it has been found in various studies that roughly 50% of people believe ghosts to exist.

1. Vampires

The legend of the vampire began in 18th century Eastern Europe. However, this legend has had world-wide popularity that is still growing even today! This is why we vote vampires as the #1  creepiest creature of Halloween!

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Molly Plunkett

is a journalism student at Indiana University and an online producer for A Moment of Science. She is originally from Wheaton, IL.

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