creature

The Aspidochelone is creature, found in medieval bestiaries, that appears to be an island with trees, dunes, and rocky crevices—but is in reality a giant whale, sea turtle, or other sea monster. Sailors who unwittingly explored the ‘island’ found their ships and themselves in peril. Image: JaniceDuke

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The Italian manuscript Lusus naturae, Human and Natural Monstrosities, 18th Century, contained 54 watercolor illustrations of beasts and men with medical conditions or deformities, along with unworldly creatures. Source: John Rylands Library

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The Pooka or Puca or Pwca is a shape-shifting creature from Celtic foklore that can change into a horse, goat, cat, dog, or hare. If they take human form, they’ll have an animal feature like ears or a tail. Pookas are tricksters and can bring good or bad fortune. The character of Puck in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream was based on this creature. Image: British Goblins, W Sikes, 1881


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The Ovinnik is an evil spirit of the barn from Slavic folklore. He may set fire to your grain and burn down your barn unless you placate him with roosters and pancakes (bliny). A warm touch from an Ovinnik on New Years Eve is auspicious for the year ahead, but a cold touch portends misery. Photo: Natalie.sk. Sculpture: Anton Shipitsa

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The Beast of Gévaudan was a man-eating creature, sometimes identified as a wolf-dog hybrid, that attacked and killed citizens of Gévaudan, France in the late 18th century. Over 600 attacks were recorded, some victims having their throats torn out. Image: Gallica Digital Library

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The Ushi-Oni is a spider-like, ox-headed yokai (supernatural creature) from Japanese folklore who appears on beaches, mountains, forests, swamps, and lakes. They’re savage beasts who spit poison and love to kill and eat humans and livestock. Image: Hyakkai-Zukan

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