Mythological hybrids are legendary creatures combining body parts of more than one species, one of which is often human.
Since ancient times there has been a fascination with the idea of creatures who are half human and half animal. The strength of this archetype can be seen in the persistence of modern tales of werewolves, vampires, different monster and horror characters.
Ancient myths include many monstrous beings. Some resemble hybrids between different species, while others are of the same species but having un-natural extra heads or limbs.
The Sanskrit epics of India feature gods in the form of elephants, monkeys, and snakes. The Sumerians depicted gods with bird heads and wings, Egyptians did portray many of the gods with animal features.
Let’s have a look at 12 of the most bizarre hybrid mythical creatures from ancient history:
1 – Ammit (Egyptian Mythology)
Ammit or Ammut is translated as the ‘Soul Eater’, and was claimed to be an underworld-dwelling Ancient Egyptian goddess/demon who personified divine retribution. With an anatomy of a lion, hippopotamus and a crocodile, she waited to devour the hearts of the unworthy people, thus, cursing their ’empty’ souls to roam aimlessly for eternity. She epitomized the collective fear of Egyptians that was apparently pertained to ‘second death’.
2 – Buraq (Islamic Mythology)
The dome of rock is a spot venerated by Muslims as they consider it sacred because from there Prophet Mohammad rose to heaven on a supposedly fantastical white-hued, horse-like creature named Buraq. It was apparently half mule, half donkey and had wings.
3 – Gajasimha (Indian Mythology)
In the Hindu Mythology, Narsimha was one of the 10 avatars of Lord Vishnu. Gajasimha is probably a variant in that being, who was half human and half lion. Gajasimha is depicted as half elephant, half lion, where Elephant is the representation of Lord Ganesha.
4 – Hatuibwari (Melanesian Mythology)
It is signified as the primordial ancestor of human beings with four eyes, serpent like body and humongous wings. The Hatuibwari was most probably worshiped as a cosmic creature, and is described in the folklore of Melanasia.
5 – Hippalectryon (Greek Mythology)
This half-horse and half-rooster featured creature has depictions as old as 3,000 years. Some speculate it to have originated from the Middle Eastern folklores and some claim it to be an alternative representation of the renowned winged-horse Pegasus.
6 – Khepri (Egyptian Mythology)
Usually depicted as a man with a beetle head in Ancient Egyptian funerary papyri, it is symbolic of the god epitomizing the forces that moved the sun across the vast expanse of the sky. Derived from the Egyptian word ‘Kheper’ meaning ‘to change’, this creature derives its connection from the Scarab Beetles, who rolled balls of dung across the rigorous desert surface, while the young beetles emerged from inside the dung, from the eggs laid by the parent.
7 – Matsya (Indian Mythology)
With the head of a human and underpart of a fish, Matsya is claimed to be one of the avatars of Vishnu. Also, in the popular Noah’s Arc depicting from the Bible and the story of Manu from the Vedic literatures who made an arc and survived against the catastrophic floods, there was a character ‘Matsya’ who guided them towards a safe place to repopulate the Earth.
8 – Monocerus (Medieval legends)
Monocerus is derived from the Greek word Μονόκερος, which simply pertains to an animal with a single horn, similar to a unicorn. However, the medieval descriptions say that it had a head of a stag, the body of a horse, the legs of an elephant and a tail of a boar, topping which, was one horn to target the belly region of its opponents, the Elephants.
9 – Onocentaur (Greek Mythology)
Half man and half horse have much been talked about, but the Onocentaur is a version of Centaur with Donkey credentials. Moreover, a Greek poetic mythology mentions 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 (Babylonian Mythology)
Pazuzu was the Dog head, eagle-like feet, a scorpion’s tail and a serpentine penis, with some ominous aspects. The demon of winds who could bring upon catastrophic famines during the rainy seasons. But Pazuzu was also invoked to fight against other evil spirits.
11 – Qilin (Chinese Mythology)
Also known as the Chinese Unicorn, the Qilin goes hand in hand with whimsicality and mysticism, signifying the birth (or death) of a sage or eminent ruler. The features of this 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 project a vivacious palette of colors, complemented by a yellowish belly.
12 – Tarasque (French folklore)
Golden Legend, the medieval bestseller, has the most renowned mentions of Tarasque. It describes Tarasque as a dragon or a dragon-like creature having a head of a lion, a body of an ox covered with a turtle shell, legs of a bear and a scaled tail like that of a scorpion.