Back when the world hasn’t evolved into what it is today, human knowledge of the vast earth was limited. Confined with their geographical location, people took inspiration from the natural world surrounding them for entertainment! This also includes the magical mystical beings, sprinkled with imagination, turning into the folklore and myths we still hear about today. ✨
Today, MyFriend has gathered all the mystical creatures for you to get acquainted with! Alongside the animals that might be the origin of these magical creatures. 🦄
According to Greek mythology, Cerberus was a gigantic three-headed dog that guards Hades’ gates of hell. Their job was to make sure that none of the souls escape from the underworld, and that none of the living enters. It’s been said that Cerberus has failed his job three times, and that was when Heracles fought with all his might, when Orpheous sang them to sleep, and when Sibyl of Cumae calmed them down with a honey cake that was infused with sedatives. This three-headed beast was inspired by the ancient Greek Molossus breed that is already extinct. The greeks used to have the Molossus guard their homes, and treasured belongings, and they were also used to hunt. Because of their size, strength, stamina, and fierce loyalty, it’s no wonder why they were trusted to guard the most important places, including the gates of hell!
The name Jackalope might not sound familiar to many of us, but if we take a look at what the Jackalope looks like, we’ll soon find that it’s a rabbit with deer antlers! With physical attributes that don’t seem “too far from reality,” their origin story stems from two brothers who owned a taxidermy business, Douglas and Ralph Herrick in Wyoming, The United States, during the recession! So the tale of the Jackalope is recent history, they are a part of modern mythology (just like the Loch Ness monster)! According to the story, the brothers returned home and tossed a rabbit into the taxidermy shop, where the carcass slid right up to a pair of deer antlers. This sparked the idea of selling the stuffed Jackalope, along with the story that they exist! Americans rushed to hunt down the Jackalope. It can be said that the Jackalope does exist in the form of a rare virus Shope papilloma virus, which causes the rabbit to grow antlers, like a deer. It’s said that the antlers will continue to grow and increase in size, eventually leading to the rabbit’s fatality.
A mythical creature that possesses a beautiful body of a human, but the lower body is of a fish. Many of us are familiar with Mermaids and their Greek origin story as Sirens that lure fishermen to dive into the deep sea with their haunting and beautiful voices. Although there’s an older story that dates back to the Babylonian ages of the Mermaid’s origins! They were the gods of the sea, called Oannes. Resting at the shores every single day, and they return to the ocean every nightfall. All of the Mermaid stories stem from humans and our imagination! There might be times when the illusion of a mermaid might have caused this, similar to when Christopher Columbus thought he saw a Mermaid, but he saw a Manatee! Other than that, there are animals like the Dugong that might be mistaken for Mermaids.
The horse with horns can easily be the hallmark of mythology! With their majestic look of a white horse with a sharp spike on the top of their head, they are commonly seen in European folklore. Their origins can be traced back to The Western Literature of Ctesias. Greek doctors and historians have documented them from Indian travelers. They were described as various things, as wild donkeys with white coats, redheads, and multicolored horns, horns long as 1.5 feet (50 cm.) TIME Magazine has reported that these depictions and descriptions from the Ctesias might have stemmed from many animals, such as the wild donkeys and Indian rhinoceros, which were animals that at the time, Europeans have never seen before.
A Legendary bird that symbolizes rebirth, new beginnings, and immortality, as well as healing and restoration, is believed to originate from Egypt or the Middle East. But their origin story remains quite consistent throughout all civilizations. The story goes, that there was a bird that lived up to 500 years. When their death is near, the Phoenix will start to build a nest from fragrant herbs, and use its beak to start a fire to kill itself, turning its own body into ashes. Then, the Phoenix will rise from the embers. Historians believe that the physical appearance of the Phoenix came from combining features from Eagles, Hawks, Cranes, Flamingos, and Peacocks. Archeologists have found remains of a giant stork that was as tall as a human in the United Arab Emirates. It’s believed that the remains came from a bird that has been extinct since 1,500 BC.
This graceful creature originated from Greek Mythology. It’s been said that Pegasus was born from the blood of Medusa while she was beheaded by Perseus. A horse with wings then came into existence, and no matter where they tread, a trail of water, or a fountain will appear with them. Those who drink from the fountain will then become great poets. It’s suspected that the animal that inspired Pegasus is the white Skyros horse, with a smaller frame, full of speed and dapper movements!
A magical creature that has been the face of mythology wasn’t only well-known in European folklore. Other cultures have also imagined this humongous flying magical lizard that can breathe fire! In Eastern mythology, the Chinese have also conjured up the dragon, but they dwell in deep waters. With various minds in different geographical locations, it’s a viable hypothesis that similar animals were used to come up with this mythical creature. Whether they would be inspired by the Mane Lizard, Python, Komodo Dragon, or the ancient Pterosaur that has the most similar resemblance to the European depiction of a dragon. Or the sea dragon (Phyllopteryx), a beautiful marine fish that is related to seahorses that can be found in Australian waters. These creatures are probably what inspired dragons to be the well-known mythical creatures we know and love today!
The magical stories of these mysterious creatures have been part of our lives since the beginning of our civilizations. Tales are as old as time, and some of them appear in modern mythology, literature, stories, or folklore that has been passed down for generations. Although there are many theories to debunk their origins, these myths can give us a glimpse into the world before us. How people used to view the nature that surrounds them, to the variety of animals that have existed before us. These beliefs and superstitions help us understand our ancestors and our history a little better. To understand and acknowledge that there were people who truly believed in these creatures, lets the mysticism and magic of the tales live till this day!
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