Mankind has always had a fascination with monsters. Mythologies from around the world include stories of strange and terrifying creatures, including the half-bull, half-human Minotaur of Greek myths, the living clay Golem of Jewish traditions, British elves and Chinese dragons.

Whether these monsters exist or not, the mysteries will always be with us.

Bigfoot is of course the worlds marquee monster, having had pizzas and monster trucks named after it. Bigfoot is known not for what it is (since no one knows for certain what it is, or if it even exists), but what it supposedly leaves behind: large footprints. Bigfoots high profile is largely due to a short film taken in 1967 in Bluff Creek, Calif. This is the classic footage of Bigfoot, showing a furry, man-sized creature walking across a clearing. The film has never been proven authentic, and many suspect a hoax.

A century after Bram Stoker modeled his Dracula character after Romanian national hero Vlad Tepes, interest in vampires has never been stronger. From Dracula to the "Blade" films, from Anne Rice novels to "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," no single monster has captured the publics imagination the way vampires have. At once both sensual and scary, vampire lore has inspired a thriving goth subculture. Despite strong evidence that vampires are a fictional creation, some people even claim to be vampires, conducting arcane rituals and consuming blood from willing donors. Lets hope they show up for the blood drive!

No list of monsters would be complete without the beastie said to inhabit Scotlands Loch Ness. While Nessie is the worlds most famous lake monster, it is far from the only one. In fact, there are hundreds (by some counts thousands) of lakes across the globe said to harbor monsters.

A distant cousin of the mermaid (in folkloric terms anyway), the sirens were beautiful, alluring women who dwelled near rocky cliffs and sang to passing sailors. According to legends, the hapless seamen would become enchanted by the sirens song, following the mellifluous melody to their deaths as their boats crashed upon the rocky shore. It is an ancient morality tale about the evils of women, but not all sirens were so comely.

Other accounts depict sirens as half-bird, half-woman creatures who would lure travelers to their doom with harps instead of their voices. In Greek myth, Odysseus escaped the sirens by having his sailors plug their ears with beeswax, though in modern times doctors recommend soft foam earplugs for sailors who may encounter these dangerous monsters.

Bigfoot is named after its big footprints, and the dreaded chupacabra is also known for what it leaves behind: dead animals. Though goats are said to be its favorite prey (chupacabra means goat sucker in Spanish), they also have been blamed for attacks on cats, sheep, rabbits, dogs, chickens, ducks, hogs and other animals.(There is no record of a chupacabra attacking a Bigfoot, though Id like to see that.) Descriptions of chupacabras vary widely, but many accounts suggest that the creature stands about 4 to 5 feet tall. It has short but powerful legs, long claws, and terrifying, glowing red eyes.

Often referred to as "Americas Loch Ness Monster," the mysterious creature in Lake Champlain (which borders Vermont, New York, and Canada) is called Champ. Descriptions of the beast vary widely, but is it said to be anywhere from 10 to over 100 feet long, have dark skin covered with several humps. Its head supposedly resembles a snake or dog.

The giant squid is the only top 10 monster that is known to be real, though for centuries its existence was often rumored. Ancient sea stories told of the fearsome Kraken, a huge many-tentacled beast, said to attack ships and sailors on the high seas.

Canada reputedly has more lake monsters than any other country, boasting no fewer than a dozen in its cold waters. Its no surprise, therefore, that Lake Okanagan, located in British Columbia, might be home to one of the worlds top 10 monsters. The lake monster, dubbed Ogopogo (from an old music hall song) is unique in that native Indians in the region used to make live sacrifices to a water spirit in the lake as they crossed in boats near the reputed home of Ogopogo, Monster Island.

Though any connection between the Indian legend and a modern monster is pure speculation, many eyewitnesses continue to report odd things in the lake. According to John Kirk, Ogopogo expert and president of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, there is far better evidence for the existence of a mysterious monster in Canadas Lake Okanagan than at Loch Ness.