Engravings of hybrid monsters from Opera nela quale vi e molti mostri de tutte le parti del mondo antichi et moderni or “Work in which there are many monsters from all parts of the world, ancient and modern” by Giovanni Battista de’Cavalieri, 1585. Image: Wellcome Collection
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
Umibozu is a sea monster yokai who creates storms and breaks ships. Often appearing at night, the yokai will sometimes request a barrel from sailors, who would give a bottomless barrel so it wouldn’t drown them. In some regions, fishers sacrificed their first catch to the gods to prevent Umibozu’s appearance. Images: Bakemono no e, 18th Century & The sailor Tokuso and the sea monster by Utagawa Kuniyoshi, 1845
Cynocephaly or “having the head of a dog” is a characteristic found in many mythological and folklore traditions across the world, such as ancient Egypt, India, Greece, and China. These humanoid, dog-headed beings were often described by travelers coming back from far off lands. Images: Saint Christopher by Anonymous, 17th Century | The Egyptian Book of the Dead, 1550 BCE | Kievan Psalter by Unknown, 1397 | Man with dog head by Hartmann Schedel, 1493.
Balor was the leader of the Fomorians, a group of demonic beings from Irish Mythology. He was a giant with a poisonous eye wreaked havoc in battle. The eyelid was so heavy, that it took the strength of four warriors from his army to lift it. He was killed with a sling-stone to the eye by his grandson. Image: JFarren on Deviant Art
Echidna is a cave dwelling, half-woman, half-snake being. With Typhon, she bore all of Greek Mythology’s most famous monsters: the regenerating Hydra, Cerberus who guards the gates of Hades, the Chimera, the riddle-giving Sphinx, and more. Image: Gabriele Delhey
The nuckelavee is a fearsome sea monster found on Scotland’s Northern Isles that, when on land, has been described as humanoid rider fused with a horse, skinless with black blood coursing through yellow veins. Its breath wilts crops and is responsible for epidemics and drought. Image: michael221 on Deviant Art CC-BY-SA
The Alukah, also known as the “horse-leech”, is a giant and many toothed leech that, according to the Sefer Hasidim, takes human and wolf form. It’s possible that the word “leech” actually describes its blood feeding nature, not its appearance, and that the creature is more of a shape-shifting vampire. It can fly using its long hair and may be a descendant of Lilith.
Chort is a demon from Slavic folklore, son of Chernobog, who is trickster figure in folktales. It often tries to trick people into selling their souls, but is easily outsmarted. Sometimes Chort acts as a force for good, and gives heroes magical items, or takes villains to hell. Image: Wikimedia Commons
Pazuzu (𒀭𒅆𒊒𒍪𒍪) is the ancient Mesopotamian king of wind demons. He’s responsible for storms, drought, famine, and locusts. Though evil himself, Pazuzu is invoked on amulets to drive away other evil spirits, like the malicious goddess Lamashtu. He’s also the spirit that supposedly possessed Regan in the film, The Exorcist. Image: World Imaging/PHGCOM on Wikimedia Commons
In an Indian folktale, a Bodhisatta, known as the Prince of the Five Weapons, meets a demon, known as The Demon with Matted Hair, in a forest. Before it could devour him, the prince defeats the demon with discourse and reason, and turns him benevolent. Image: John Batten, 1892
The Monster of Krakow first appeared in Histoires Prodigieuses by Pierre Boaistuau, 1559. Four hours after its birth, the demonic beast reportedly uttered “Watch, the Lord cometh” and died. Source: Wellcome Collection