Generally, humans have come to accept that it is nearly impossible to discover all the animals that have ever existed in the world’s history. The earth is over four billion years old, and humans only started existing a few million years ago. Although scientific advancements have made it possible to find, identify, and make a timeline for many fossils of ancient animals found around the world, it is still regarded as impossible to discover all of the fossils of ancient animals that existed long before humans.
Apart from the prehistoric animals that actually existed, many more mythical creatures existed in various cultures around the world. Every culture has its own mythical creatures and mythology, unique to that particular group of people. This article lists some of the most amazing mythical creatures ever in no particular order.
With a deep history in several parts of the world, particularly Asia, dragons are some of the most popular mythical creatures in the world. Like almost every other mythical creature, the belief about dragons varies from culture to culture. Early in the 13th century, the term “dragon” made its way into the English language from the Old Latin word draconem, which meant “large snake,” and from the Ancient Greek word drákōn, which meant “serpent, big sea fish.” The word is also believed to have some relationship with another Greek word, draconta, which means “to watch.” The reason for this has to do with the belief that these mythical creatures existed for the sole purpose of safeguarding treasure.
Although the origin of dragon myths is unknown, descriptions of the enormous, scaly flying serpents date at least as far back as the time of the ancient Greeks and Sumerians. Dragons were frequently pictured in medieval Europe as having wings, a barb-tipped tail, and breathing fire. However, the dragon was typically a representation of the principle of evil in the Middle Eastern world, where snakes are huge and deadly. The enormous serpent of the dark world was therefore represented by the dragon in ancient Egypt. The mythical creature was also depicted as prostrate beneath the heels of martyrs and saints in Christianity since it stood for paganism and sin. On the other hand, in some parts of Asia, like China and parts of Japan, dragons are a symbol of good luck, power, and nobility.
The description of dragons also depends on the culture’s version in question. In European mythology, there are primarily two types of dragons: the first has big wings that allow it to fly and it also breathes out fire from its mouth. The other is more like a large snake; it has no wings but instead has a long, cylindrical body that allows it to slither on the ground. However, both of these versions are believed to have been reptiles with scaly bodies that hatched from eggs.
Next on this list are werewolves. This mythological creature is popular in European folklore. Werewolves, sometimes called lycanthropes, are simply humans that can turn into wolves. The exact timeline of the history is not known, but it is believed to date as far back as ancient Greek mythology, particularly with the Legend of Lycaon. Legend has it that when Lycaon, the son of Pelasgus, presented the god Zeus with a dinner prepared from the remains of a sacrificed kid, Zeus became enraged. Zeus was furious and punished Lycaon and his sons by turning them into wolves.
According to folklore, humans that can shapeshift into wolves do so either because they were placed under a curse or were scratched by another werewolf. These transformations were also believed to happen particularly on nights of a full moon.
Although the full moon influences their change and their strength levels, it is believed that some werewolves have the ability to switch whenever they want. Werewolves with this ability are believed to have been born with their powers. The ones bitten by other werewolves can not control their powers as much immediately and instead, they change involuntarily.
The look of a werewolf in its animal form varies widely from culture to culture, but it is typically described as being identical to regular wolves aside from the fact that it frequently has a bigger size and lacks a tail. In some cultures, these werewolves have human eyes and a human voice, while in others the color of their eyes depends on their rank within the pack and they do not have human voices in wolf form. Other traits shown by werewolves, according to these cultures, include being very fast, being able to hear and see things from a distance even in human form, and speed healing.
Centaurs, sometimes known as hippocentaurs, are mythical beings with a long history, particularly in Greek mythology. They have a human upper torso and a horse’s bottom body and legs. They were prehistoric creatures that lived in caves, hunted wild animals for food, and manufactured their own weapons out of rocks and tree branches. In Greek architectural sculpture and pottery decorating, these creatures frequently portrayed barbarism and unchecked disorder. Thessalian forests were thought to be home to the centaurs, who lived outside of human rules, and they generally had a violent, unruly, and hostile demeanor and were slaves to their animal passions.
Centaurs are said to have been born of Ixion, the king of Lapiths, and Nephele, a cloud nymph. According to legend, this cloud nymph was disguised to resemble Hera; the goddess of women, family, and marriage. This was done at the request of Zeus to reveal Ixion’s lust for the goddess. The story goes on to narrate that king Ixion seduced Nephele and their relationship birthed centaurs. The primary reason centaurs became popular was a battle called the Centauromachy. The centaurs were invited to the wedding of their half-brother, king Peirithous, where they became intoxicated and tried to steal the bride and some other female guests. This led to the war that resulted, which wiped out most of the centaurs.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Warpaintcobra
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