Bats in Mythology: The Olitiau Cryptid

liz west - Ghost House
Flickr – Liz West, Ghost House

With Halloween nearly upon us, we will begin seeing all of the familiar icons associated with this dark holiday – skeletons, pumpkins, scarecrows, ghosts, spiders, vampires, and BATS. Although spooky faces and spiders crawling down their webs onto your unsuspecting shoulders can certainly creep you out, there might be nothing scarier than a bat swooping down on your head.

I think it would be safe to say that all of us know bats generally come out at night – specifically at dusk to feed on insects. They also live in caves or other structures with openings that lead into some sort of dark chamber. Their small screeches have been heard in the night air as they streak across, in search of prey. You may have visited your local cavern and found them planted on the walls, staring down at you with beady eyes.

These flying reptiles do play a very important role in our planet’s ecosystem despite the fact that we may think that these tiny creatures are ugly and should be feared…

Flickr - Matt Reinbold
Flickr – Matt Reinbold

“Bats are important pollinators and seed dispersers that keep forests healthy…. Understanding the connectivity between the bat fauns of different landmasses is important for evaluating biosecurity threats and conservation priorities for fragile…ecosystems.” (

Bats are, of course, are associated with vampires and the exchange of blood between animals and humans. This fluid-mingling creates an immortal species of life that feeds off of innocent victims, creating even more vampires who roam the night streets. As with nearly every cryptid, there are legendary stories which are inextricably tied to their existence. The vampire myth has endured the test of time and still today is the source of many books and movies. But did you know that there are cryptid bats who may currently live in some of the most remote places of our world, surviving well over 2,000 years of history?

Flickr - JDR, Bat Attack
Flickr – JDR, Bat Attack

In the Republic of Cameroon in Africa there is a creature that has been seen by very few eyes. It is known as the Olitiau, a “Cave Demon,” because the legends behind this reptile go far beyond the realms of this Earth. It is a creature that lives in the rainforests and its first sighting was documented by the famous cryptozoologist Ivan T. Anderson in 1932. On one of his expeditions, along with his friend Gerald Russell, the two of them were walking along one of the smaller rivers in the Assumbo Mountains. While shooting some smaller bats, they were suddenly attacked by a giant bat. The cryptid had a wingspan of 10 – 12 feet and a large mouth filled with serrated 2-inch teeth. It had a dark, black body and it didn’t have any hair on it. Ivan and Gerald did somehow escape this horrible creature, returning to the African village where they were stationed. After the locals heard about what happened, they set out to find the Olitiau. There were a few sightings claimed by the tribesman after Anderson’s attack, but no concrete evidence or documentation exists to verify the true existence of this giant cryptid.

The Olitiau “Cave Demon” has been mentioned in Mayan mythology, whose first civilization began to fully develop back in 2,000 B.C. In their culture this cryptid was a giant vampire bat that was the same size as a human male, perhaps even larger. It sought out prey just like vampires, sucking victims dry of their blood. It did its hunting during the twilight hours and during the day took refuge somewhere, turning into a stone statue. The Olitiau was a young god-like creature that evolved into a greater monster called the Camazotz. This reptilian aberration was feared by all the other creatures of the rainforest and they regularly brought sacrifices to the Bat God to appease him. The Camazotz rarely hunted for its own food.

In Mayan legends, there were many gods whom they worshiped and they often made sacrifices themselves to appease their deities. At one point the Mayans revolted against the rules and demands of the gods and, as a punishment, the Camazotz was released from the Underworld to destroy their civilization. The giant vampire bat, a creature of pure evil, wiped out all of the Mayan people so that a new race would be created who would abide by the laws of the gods. Ironically enough, the Mayan civilization was mysteriously destroyed and we do not yet know the real reason why. Could it be possible that the giant cryptid seen during Anderson’s expedition may actually be the Olitiau of Mayan legends?  

Flickr - Megan Tedrow, Untitled
Flickr – Megan Tedrow, Untitled

A cryptid of this magnitude would have far-reaching status. There are reports of similar bats in Indonesia and parts of South America. The vampire epidemic that broke out in the Transylvania area of Romania in the 1400s might also be linked in some way to this “Cave Demon.” From a zoological point of view, the Olitiau may be explained as a product of the dinosaur age. In prehistoric times, there were several species of giant bats that not only flew in the skies, but there were a couple types who walked on all fours like an animal. They would use their wings as legs as they shuffled across the landscape.

These flying reptiles have been associated with pterosaurs and, in particular, the Pterodactyl. It is believed that the giant bats seen today and over the past few centuries are an evolution of these creatures. Even the Piasa Thunderbird has been traced back to the pterosaurs, as you may have read in a previous article on this site.

When many of the land creatures died in the great Ice Age, perhaps the birds of the air were able to endure the catastrophe far better than their terrain ancestors. Just take a look in the winter sky or when the temperatures are around the freezing mark. How is it possible that little tiny birds can endure the cold weather so easily? I have personally watched geese, ducks, and crows all flying together through the frigid air. They must have some sort of inherited adaptation to severe weather conditions. Could the Olitiau possess this same evolutionary adaptability, finally deciding to settle back into the warmer rain forests of our planet?

The next time you look into the Halloween twilight sky and see a bat fly by, think about the Olitiau, Camazotz, and giant bats all over the world. Although these creatures may be very important in maintaining healthy ecosystems, the giant bat’s past may also be shrouded in the mysteries of some of the greatest atrocities the human race has ever experienced. If vampires really do exist, perhaps they may be the evil spawn of a giant bat cryptid!

Works Cited:

Sanderson, Ivan T.  Investigating the Unexplained:Disquieting Mysteries of the Natural World. Prentice Hall Trade. 1978.

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