According to Brian Dunning of Skeptoid, folk tales of the Jersey Devil prior to 1909 calling it the "Leeds Devil" may have been created to discredit local politician Daniel Leeds who served as deputy to the colonial governor of New York and New Jersey in the 1700s. The Jersey Devil remained an obscure regional legend through most of the 18th and 19th centuries until a series of purported sightings in 1909 gained it press coverage and wider notability. Dunning writes that the Jersey Devil was described in newspapers as having "leathery batlike wings", the body of a serpent and the head of a horse, cloven hooves, two small arms, a devil's forked tail, and a "horrifying screech".

Today, the Jersey Devil is

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considered to be more in the realm of popular culture than folklore.