A winged unicorn is a fictional horse with wings and a horn, and may be a variant from either the more well known Pegasus and/or unicorn. Winged unicorns have often been depicted in art as a mythical horse, is commonly depicted as having a white coat and wings, but can come in other colours.
Ancient Assyrian seals generally depicted winged unicorns (and winged bulls) as representatives of evil but these days they are most recognisable as characters from My Little Pony.
A legendary lizard who could kill a man with its stare. Its origin is unknown. Some reports say the Basilisk originated in Italian lore while others say it was born from Greek mythology. According to lore, the Basilisk had the power to kill people with a single glance, similar to Medusa, although the two are not interchangeable. The creature emerged from a rooster’s egg after being incubated by a toad and had the power “to wither landscapes with its breath,” according to the Smithsonian. The Basilisk has been around for a long time, with the earliest written reports dating back to a mention in Pliny the Elder’s Natural History in 79 A.D. The Basilisk was often referred to as the king of serpents and has been described in varying detail as being a mix of snake and rooster.
A type of Sasquatch native to North American forests. This big boy is thought to be the missing link between humans and apes—we'd know for sure if only we could find one. The legend of Bigfoot comes from a couple of different places including Native American mythology and folklore surrounding European 'Wild Man' stories. Bigfoot has his very own official FBI file, but, so far, despite myriad claims from several sources across the U.S., no one has managed to definitively prove that the Sasquatch exists.
An evil spirit dog that stalks city streets at night.
Bray Road Beast
The nickname for a werewolf-like creature seen multiple times in Wisconsin.
Small humanoid creatures wearing all brown clothing who sneak into homes at night to help with household chores.
Half-men, half-horse creatures that ran wild and unruly. Originating in the mythical tales of ancient Greece, the legend of the centaur has long fascinated mankind. Being part man and part horse, the centaur is stuck between two worlds: that of the wild beast and that of the civilized human being. Not only were centaurs part animal, they are also described as rowdy warrior types prone to heavy drinking and other primal excesses, which often brought them into conflict with their more cultured cousin, man. One exception is the great and wise Chiron, a centaur who was also a gifted healer and respected intellectual.
The three-headed dog that guards the entrance to Hades, preventing the dead from leaving, and making sure that those who entered never left. A child of Typhon and Echidna, he was part of a monstrous family, which included Orthus, the Lernaean Hydra, and the Chimaera as well.
Charybdis was a sea monster in Greek mythology, which dwelt in the Strait of Messina. It was later rationalised as a whirlpool. It was believed that Charybdis lived under a rock on one side of the strait. Opposite Charybdis, Ancient Greeks believed there was another sea monster, Scylla, which lived inside a rock. Since the passage between the two monsters was very narrow, sailors who tried to avoid one sea monster would unavoidable get into reach of the other. Charybdis swallowed large amounts of water and then belched them out, creating large whirlpools that resulted in the destruction of passing ships. Charybdis was considered the offspring of Poseidon and Gaea, serving her father and helping him in his quarrel against Zeus. Zeus became angry that Charybdis had flooded large areas of land with water, so he turned her into a monster that would eternally swallow sea water, creating whirlpools. Charybdis was mentioned in two myths, Homer's Odyssey and Jason and the Argonauts.
Origin: Greek. The mythological Chimera is a terrifying creature that features a fire-breathing lion’s head attached to a goat's body and ending in a serpent tail. There are varying versions of what a Chimera actually looks like with some iterations giving the creature three heads—a lion, a goat, and a dragon—among other interesting interpretations. According to Greek mythology, the Chimera is the offspring of the monster Typhoeus and his partner, Echidna, who was half-woman half-snake. Some believe that the chimera is actually a personification of Mt. Chimera, a long-gone mountain that was always on fire, in Turkey.
The Aztecs of Mexico held the belief that the Earth was created from the destruction of a large sea demon, created by and known to the gods as Cipactli. Cipactli was described in many fashions: a crocodile with toad and fish characteristics, a sea demon , or a monster. Regardless of the description, the Aztecs considered this asexual sea being as the source of the cosmos. Cipactli’s appetite was insatiable and each joint of the creature bore a mouth. As the gods began the process of creation, they soon realized that their other creations would fall into the void and be devoured by the demon, so they decided to destroy Cipactli. Tezcatlipoca lured the monster in and lost a foot to its insatiable appetite before the gods were able to defeat it. Cipactli put up a fight, but in the end the gods prevailed. They pulled Cipactli’s body in four directions and freed the universe from it. Then Tezcatlipoca and Quetzalcoatl created the heavens and the Earth and everything therein from Cipactli’s body. The creature’s head became the thirteen heavens, its tail the underworld, and its midsection the Earth.
Another name for the basilisk.
Giant, flying, fire-breathing lizards who often guard treasure. Their origin is unknown, although several cultures including those in America, India, and China have myths regarding the creatures. Huge, flying serpents were described as early as the ancient Greeks and Sumerians and interpretations are varied across cultures. In some parts of the world, such as China, dragons were revered or viewed as gods and in others, they were feared, especially after Christianity became widespread, since many people associated them with Satan or Leviathan. In China, dragons are a symbol of courage and heroism and are seen as protectors of the community.
A monster figure in Greek mythology. Homer spoke of a single Gorgon—a monster of the underworld. The later Greek poet Hesiod increased the number of Gorgons to three—Stheno (the Mighty), Euryale (the Far Springer), and Medusa (the Queen), and made them the daughters of the sea god Phorcys and of his sister-wife Ceto. The Attic tradition regarded the Gorgon as a monster produced by Gaea, the personification of Earth, to aid her sons against the gods. In early classical art the Gorgons were portrayed as winged female creatures; their hair consisted of snakes, and they were round-faced, flat-nosed, with tongues lolling out and with large projecting teeth.
The griffin is a legendary creature with the head and wings of an eagle, and the body, tail, and hind legs of a lion. As the eagle was considered the ‘king of the birds’ , and the lion the ‘king of the beasts’, the griffin was perceived as a powerful and majestic creature. During the Persian Empire, the griffin was seen as a protector from evil, witchcraft, and slander. While griffins are most common in the art and mythology of ancient Greece, there is evidence of representations of griffins in Persia and Egypt dating back to as early as the 4th millennium BC. On the island of Crete in Greece, archaeologists have uncovered depictions of griffins in frescoes in the ‘Throne Room’ of the Bronze Age Palace of Knossos dating back to the 15th century BC.
Hydra is the multi-headed serpent beast with poisonous blood and breath so bad it could kill a man. There are numerous references to Hydra in Greek literature and poetry, but one individual Hydra is the most well-known for having been slain by the hero Hercules. He was known as the "Hydra of Lerna" because he lived in the marshlands of the Lernaean region of Greece. As the legend goes, it was impossible to win a battle with Hydra because cutting off one of its heads meant that two more would grow back in its place. Then the hero Hercules came along and defeated the monster by quickly burning the stump so a new one could not regenerate. He proceeded to unburden the monster of its remaining heads, cauterizing each wound as he cut.
The Jersey Devil haunts New Jersey's Pine Barrens and has reportedly been around since 1735. This creature has a horse-like head with some kind of horned protrusions , and walks on its two hind legs which end in cloven hooves. Some versions of the Jersey Devil myth state that the creature was born to one of Daniel Leeds' wives, who was a witch. Shortly after the beast was born, it sprouted wings, let out a loud screeching yell, and flew off into the night. The fact that there is no evidence that any kind of creature even remotely similar to the Jersey Devil could ever exist hasn't stopped people from reporting sightings.
In ancient Japanese folklore, the Kappa is a water demon that inhabits rivers and lakes and devours disobedient little children. The Kappa, a word meaning ‘river child’, is usually depicted with the body of a tortoise, a beak, and the limbs of a frog, and has a hole filled with water on top of his head. While they are primarily water creatures, they are believed to occasionally venture onto land. According to legend, the head cavity must be kept wet when the Kappa ventures out of the water, or he will lose his powers. The Kappa is one of the most well-known folk legends in Japan and many believe the mythical creature to be real. In fact, there are signs near some lakes in Japan warning people of their presence. However, others maintain it is much more likely that the legend of the Kappa is connected with sightings of the Japanese Giant Salamander, or ‘hanzaki’, which is known to be aggressive and to grab its prey with its powerful jaws.
According to Scandinavian mythology, the Kraken is a horrifying giant sea creature said to be one mile long. Stories generally describe it as a terrifyingly enormous octopus or squid-like creature that attacks ships. According to some tales, the Kraken was so huge that its body could be mistaken for an island.
The Kraken is first mentioned in the Örvar-Oddr, a 13th century Icelandic saga involving two sea monsters , the Hafgufa (sea mist) and the Lyngbakr (heather-back). The Hafgufa is believed to be a reference to the Kraken. The myth of the Kraken is believed by many historians to have originated from the giant squid.
The snake that guarded the golden apples in the Garden of the Hesperides.
The biblical monster Leviathan, a giant sea creature with glowing eyes and a nasty habit of crushing ships and devouring ocean-going humans. With its enormous body and scaly skin, Leviathan is usually referred to as a giant monstrous fish, but is also commonly described as a serpent, crocodile or marine mammal. It is mentioned numerous times in the Old Testament, but it is sometimes unclear whether this creature was created by God or Satan. According to some ancient religious texts, God may have originally created a male and female Leviathan, but destroyed the female in order to protect the world from the possibility of a multitude of angry monsters roaming the seas.
Loch Ness Monster
The elusive sea-monster from the Loch Ness in Scotland.; the fabled creature that mankind has been hunting for thousands of years. The Loch Ness Monster is believed to be some kind of plesiosaur that has managed to endure in the Scottish Loch Ness Lake. The first stories about her presence in the loch date back to 565 AD, in the biography of Christian Irish missionary, St. Columba.
A mythical beast with a lion's body and a human's head.
Sea creatures with the head and torso of a woman and the tail of a fish. Since ancient times, sailors crossing the world's oceans have reported seeing mermaids, beautiful fish-maidens with long flowing hair and incredible powers of seduction. The first mermaid stories date back at least 3,000 years, and reports were still common up until the discovery of the New World by Europeans. Such tales sometimes describe mermaids as helpful, saving sailors who had the misfortune to fall overboard. Others convey a more menacing intention on the part of the fish-ladies, such as their fondness for making ships crash onto rocky shores. Still others describe these fin-tailed beauties as murderous beasts that seduce men with beautiful songs and then kill them mercilessly, as evidenced by the sirens in the legend of Ulysses.
The Minotaur, whose birth name was Asterion, is another fabled creature from Greek mythology. The Minotaur was part man, part bull, the product of an affair between Queen Pasiphaë and a bull, hence the Minotaur’s weird anatomy. In order to keep the Minotaur and his ravenous hunger for humans locked away, Daedalus and his son Icarus - the one who flew too close to the sun - built a maze to contain it at the behest of King Minos, Pasiphaë’s husband. To sate the Minotaur’s appetite and keep him within the confines of the maze, the creature was offered human sacrifices. The Minotaur, who is said to have grown into a monstrous, evil beast, lived in the maze until the hero, Theseus, killed it.
The Nemean Lion
A gigantic, ferocious lion with impenetrable skin that lived in a cave in the land of Nemea, he was the son of Typhon and Echidna. He was sent to Nemea by Hera to get even with her husband Zeus by stopping anyone from visiting Zeau's temple there. This was a problem for the people of Nemea, who couldn't kill the lion nor keep it from killing them or their livestock. In the first of his trials, Hercules is tasked with finding and killing this monstrous lion. Upon finding it, Hercules shoots it with arrows, which do nothing but make it really, really mad. When Hercules realises that nothing wil pierce the lion's hide, he traps it in its cave, clubs it unconscious and then strangles it with his bare hands.
According to tales and legends, the beginning of Chinese New Year started with the fight against a mythical beast called Nian, which had the body of a bull and the head of a lion. It was said to be a ferocious animal that lived in the mountains and hunted for a living. Towards the end of winter when there was nothing to eat, Nian would come on the first day of New Year to the villages to eat livestock, crops, and even villagers - especially children. To protect themselves, the villagers would put food in front of their doors at the beginning of every year. It was believed that after the Nian ate the food they prepared, it wouldn’t attack any more people. The villagers would live in terror over the winter, but over time they learned that the ferocious Nian was afraid of three things: the color red, fire, and noise. So when the New Year was about to come, the villagers would hang red lanterns and red spring scrolls on windows and doors. They also used firecrackers to frighten away the Nian. From then on, Nian never came to the villages again. According to legend, the Nian was eventually captured by Hongjun Laozu, an ancient Taoist monk, and Nian became Hongjun Laozu's mount. After Nian was captured, everyone had a big celebration and the ritual involved in banishing him was repeated the following year - and so the ritual was passed down from generation to generation and the custom of celebrating the New Year with firecrackers, noise, and the color red has persisted to this day.
Orthros was the cattle dog for Geryon, the three-bodied giant who was king of Erytheia, the sunset isle in ancient Greece. Orthros worked beside a cattle herder named Eurytion and together they watched over Geryon's herd of magnificent red cattle. He was clubbed to death by Hercules who had been tasked to steal the cattle as one of his twelve labours.
Technically the proper name of Bellerophon's winged horse, which became the general name for winged horses.There are a couple of versions of the birth of Pegasus in Greek mythology. In one, he sprang from Medusa's neck when the hero Perseus beheaded her. In another, Pegasus was born of the droplets of blood that spilled from Medusa upon her death. The image of Pegasus has been a favorite of artist for centuries; his likeness has inspired countless paintings and sculpture. There is also a constellation for Pegasus, a gift from Zeus upon his death.
The golden bird who, at the end of its life, burst into flames only to be reborn again. No creature symbolizes eternal life more than the phoenix, a mythical bird known as much for its beauty as its immortality. The legend of the phoenix appears in a variety of ancient mythologies, including Greek, Egyptian and Indian. It is usually depicted as an eagle or other bird of prey, but may also resemble a heron in its delicate majesty. In most mythologies, the phoenix is associated with the rising of the sun and has a close relationship with the sun-god Ra. Another feature of the phoenix is that only one can exist at a time. When it senses that its life is coming to an end - about once every thousand years - the phoenix builds itself a funeral pyre made of cinnamon or other aromatic material and allows itself to be consumed by the flames. Then, as the old phoenix is reduced to ashes, a new one rises to begin its life on Earth.
The legend of the Piasa Bird dates back to long before Europeans came to North America. It has been traced to a band of Illiniwek Indians who lived along the Mississippi in the vicinity north of present-day Alton. This tribe, led by a chief named Owatoga, hunted and fished the valley and the river and lived a contented life until the "great beast" came, described by French missionary priest Jacques Marquette in 1673 as follows: “it is as large as a calf, with horns like a roebuck, red eyes, a beard like a tiger and a frightful countenance . The face was something like that of a man, the body covered in scales, and the tail so long that it passed entirely around the body, over the head and between the legs, ending like a fish.” As with the Illini tribes, there can be found traditions of similar large birds and dragons throughout the world. The Dacotah tribe believed that thunder was a monstrous bird flying through the air and claimed that these birds were large enough to carry off human beings. In the ancient Buddhist caves of India there can be found a number of carved and painted dragons that easily fit with the descriptions of Piasa. Some have questioned whether the so-called mythical creature could have been an ancient species of bird that actually existed. That so many cultures and groups of people separated by thousands of miles and years have similar tales of immense flying creatures is curious to say the least.
Large, hairy, man-like beasts that live in the woods, known colloquially as Bigfoot.
Half-men, half-goats who were wild and lustful. The god Pan was one of these.
The man-eating beast that lived on the opposite side of the Strait of Messina from Charybdis.
The half-goat, half-fish who are the children of Pricus, who becomes the constellation Capricorn.
Man-eating beautiful women whose song compels men to them. Sirens are mentioned in Homer's Odyssey, where Odysseus famously had his crew tie him to the mast of the ship because he wanted to hear the Siren song. Odysseus was cautious and has his crew fill their ears with wax so that they would be unaffected by the sound. And it worked. Sirens are sometimes mentioned interchangeably with Harpies, another kind of mythological creature who are half bird, half human.
The half-human, half-lion that forces those it meets to answer its riddles, or die. The legend of the sphinx has its origin in ancient Egyptian mythology dating back about 4,000 years. Often associated with guardianship, this creature is frequently placed architecturally at the entrance to a building or a city. The oldest and most famous sphinx is probably the Great Sphinx of Giza, which is situated along the west bank of the Nile River near the city of Cairo in Egypt as a guardian of the ancient tombs. One of the most intellectual of all the mythical creatures, the sphinx is known for its fondness of riddles. According to legend, anyone who was unable to solve the riddle of the sphinx was not only forbidden to pass - they were immediately devoured.
A giant bird that creates storms with its wings. The thunderbird myth comes from Native American mythology, ranging from tribes in the Pacific Northwest to tribes in the Southeastern United States. A thunderbird is a huge bird with an enormous wingspan who was directly connected to adverse weather conditions. It was said in thunderbird legend that the bird caused thunder claps each time it flapped its gigantic wings. Depending on the storyteller, the thunderbird could also cause rainfall or shoot lightning from its eyes. Depictions of the thunderbird can be found on several totem poles in various Native American cultures. It usually appears at the top, sometimes with teeth inside of its beak.
The fire-breathing giant who challenged Zeus for control of Mount Olympus. Also the father of most Greek monsters. There are gods, and there are monsters, but rarely are there gods that are also monsters.
A magical horse with a single horn on its forehead. Unicorns are magnificent and noble creatures that have enchanted young and old across the globe and through the ages. They are both a symbol of purity and goodness and the personification of untamed freedom. Many cultures throughout the world have their own version of the unicorn myth, but most depict them as white horses with a long horn extending from the forehead. The horn is usually spiraled, which makes light dance across the body of the animal as the sun shines down upon it. Unicorns are often associated with rainbows and fair maidens. According to legend, unicorns can only be captured by maidens alone in the forest. Unlike most mythical animals, which seem to be based on humanity's deepest fears, most unicorn tales convey an animal that is quite gentle and good. Unicorn lore dates back several thousand years, and occasional "sightings" are still being reported today.
Human by day, wolf by night. The werewolf myth is so prevalent across multiple cultures that it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where it originated. Werewolves have had their stories told millions of times over with each iteration giving the creatures a different power, a different reason to shift from a human into a beast, and providing humans with different methods of killing them, although, a silver bullet usually seems to be the way to go. Greek mythology introduced werewolves into its lore with the tale of the king of Arcadia, Lycaon, who tried to serve a sacrificed child for Zeus to eat. The story goes that Zeus was so angry at Lycaon's crass offering that he turned the king and all of his sons into werewolves. There's also Fenrir, the beast from the Norse pantheon who, although not a werewolf per se, deserves an honorable mention for being the gnarliest wolf ever. Norse mythology says that Fenrir, the son of Loki and Angrboda, would bring about Ragnarök and devour Odin. There are German version of the fabled werewolf, and countless movies and television shows have been made surrounding this mythological beast which is why it has earned a spot on our list.
Origin: Asian. You might know the Abominable Snowman by another name. Yeti, perhaps, or something else, but no matter what you call this creature, all the stories tend to be same: somewhere in the mountains, there exists a bipedal, humanoid creature that leaves behind massive tracks but has never been seen or caught on film. A small Nepalese village claimed to have a Yeti scalp that's over 300 years old. An analysis, however, showed that the scalp had actually been made out of animal hide, but locals still treat it like a treasure nonetheless.