7) Matsya (from Indian Mythology) –
Having the head of a human and underpart of a fish, the Matsya might appear to be a variant to the European-origin merman. However, the tradition of the Matsya is far older with the powerful entity being described in Vedic texts as one of the ten primary avatars of Vishnu (like our earlier mentioned Narasimha). And quite interestingly, in a strikingly similar vein to the Biblical account of Noah’s Ark, the Indian Manu also survived a catastrophic flood brought on by the gods, by building a great ark. This ark/boat was guided and pulled by the magnificent Matsya – a heroic feat that ultimately allowed Manu (and his family, animal pets and even collected plant seeds) to be safe to repopulate the earth.
8) Monocerus (from Medieval legends) –
Derived from the Greek term Μονόκερος, the Monocerus simply pertains to an animal with a single horn, like the unicorn. However, Medieval bestiaries have given a fantastical twist to the hybrid creature by describing it as having the head of a stag, the body of a horse, the legs of an elephant and a tail of a boar. To top that off, the beast had only one horn, and it was supposedly used to aim the belly region of its opponents, namely the elephant!
9) Onocentaur (from Greek Mythology) –
Most of us must know about the renowned centaur, the mythical Greek beast with head and torso of human and legs of a horse. Well, as it turns out, there is a less-impressive variant to the centaur, called the Onocentaur. Those who know their etymology must have already recognized its donkey credentials. And beyond Onocentaur’s ‘half-assed’ anatomy, the liminal being was supposedly mentioned for the first time by Pythagoras (whose own historical existence is in question), while its female form was known as the onokentaura in Latin – as described by Roman author Claudius Aelianus. Furthermore, Greek poetic mythology makes mention of another exotic centaur hybrid known as Ichthyocentaur – with upper torso of a man, the lower front of a horse and tail of a fish!
10) Pazuzu (from Babylonian Mythology) –
For those who ‘observe’ their movies might identify the Pazuzu from the famous horror-thriller ‘The Exorcist’. In mythological terms, the winged Pazuzu also had some ominous and unsightly aspects with its dog head, eagle-like feet, a scorpion’s tail and a serpentine penis! As can be gathered from such frightful features, the monster was depicted as demon of winds who could bring upon catastrophic famines during the rainy seasons. However, the Pazuzu was also invoked to lead the fight against other evil spirits, namely the Lamashtu, a malevolent Akkadian goddess who kidnapped infants by snatching them away from their mother’s breasts.
11) Qilin (from Chinese Mythology) –
In Chinese legends, the Qilin goes hand in hand with whimsicality and mysticism. Also known as the Chinese Unicorn, the spotting of the venerable beast signifies the birth (or death) of a sage or eminent ruler. The innocuous features of the creature are depicted as – having a body of a deer with a single horn, a tail of an ox and hooves of an horse, while their backs projected a vivacious palette of various colors that was complemented by a yellowish belly. Other descriptions of the Qilin entail dragon-like attributes with thick eyelashes and back scales. However, the most interesting episode of the Qilin would pertain to – when a real giraffe was presented as the mythical creature to China’s Ming emperor Yongle.
12) Tarasque (from French folklore) –
Tarasque is mentioned in various sources, but the most renowned account of the terrifying beast comes from the Medieval ‘bestseller’ Golden Legend. It has been described as a dragon or a dragon-like creature with a head of a lion, a body of an ox covered with a turtle shell, legs (six of them) of a bear and finally a scaled tail that ended up like that of a scorpion. According to the Golden Legend, it dwelt in a marsh along river Rhone, and pounced upon unsuspecting travelers with its “sword-like teeth and sharp horns”. As for its origins, the mythical being was said to come from the region of Galatia (in present-day Turkey) – the homeland of its legendary bison-like parent, Onachus.