From the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs to the oral tradition of Inuits and urban legends of the present day, mythical creatures are an integral part of any folklore or mythological account.
For as long as human beings existed, there have been stories of monsters, legendary beasts and unimaginable, supernatural beings. Some were vile creatures of darkness while some were benevolent and even heroes to the mankind. Some still walk the earth if you ask the right person.
But how well do we know our monsters? There are hundreds of them after all. Well, this article, which will be updated regularly with new additions, was written to be your guide in that sense.
For those who have been wondering about them, here is our ultimate mythical creatures list:
Acephali were human-like creatures that were believed to have lived in Libya. Acephali had their faces on their chests because their heads were removed by gods as a result of a rebellion.
Some were able to find their removed heads and carry them under their arms. The word acephali literally means “without a head”.
Also known as Acephalos, Acephalites, Akephalos and Akephale, these creatures were mentioned mostly in the works of Herodotus and Josephus.
Acheri is a mythical creature in Native American folklore which is believed to be a revenge spirit. According to the belief, Acheri is a ghost of a young girl that died a terrible death either by being murdered or by being left to die after being abused.
Wandering around mountainsides, Acheri comes down at night to spread death especially among children by making them sick.
Casting its shadow is enough for acheri to make children sick. Although it is a revenge spirit, it does not target specific individuals and very rarely adult people.
It is believed to lure some children back to its home in some cases.
Wearing red clothes, bracelets or necklaces is said to provide protection against Acheri.
The third creature in our list of mythical creatures hails from the East. Al-mi’raj is a mythical creature in Islamic mythology which is basically a hare (rabbit) with a single horn on its forehead much like a unicorn.
Al-mi’raj lived on a mysterious island named Jezîrat al-Tennyn within Indian Ocean.
Despite its harmless appearance, this beast could kill creatures much larger than itself by stabbing them with its horn and then devour them.
According to the belief, only a true witch could render Al-mi’raj harmless ensuring others to come close and carry the beast away.
Amarok the Wolf
Amarok, also known as Amaroq, is a giant wolf in Inuit mythology which was believed to kill people hunting alone.
One of the few legends regarding Amarok suggests that a boy who was unable to move and disliked by his people prayed for the god of strength and Amarok came to his aid.
Knocking the boy down with its tail, Amarok broke some bones in his body and told the boy that he could not move before because of those bones.
The boy came to wrestle with Amarok daily and become so strong that he beat three bears and earned respect from his people.
Although its origin is also linked to shunka warakin, hyaenodon and waheela, the myth of Amarok was most likely based on stories about direwolves told by ancient Eskimo people.
A banshee is a female spirit from Irish folklore believed to be the harbinger of death.
Banshees, known as “crying/wailing women”, heralded the death of a person, a relative in most of the stories.
Banshees looked like young women combing their hair with a silver or golden comb or sometimes old women.
They also had red eyes because they wept all the time.
According to the myth, King James I of Scotland met one of these wailing women who told him that he would be killed by Earl of Atholl and his co-conspirators. He actually fell victim to their conspiracy eventually.
In the old times, people were warned about not to pick a comb if they found one as it might have belonged to a banshee.
Doppelgangers are the legendary creatures that were told to be the double spirits of people.
Although they looked exactly the same with the person in question, doppelgangers were not the twins of those people.
According to the belief, doppelgangers had no reflections in the mirror or cast shadows.
Seeing a doppelganger was considered a bad omen.
Noah Brooks suggested in his book Washington in Lincoln’s Time that Abraham Lincoln saw his doppelganger and his wife told him that he would not live to serve his second term as the president of USA. Lincoln was killed right after he was chosen to be the president for a second term.
Also, John Dunne, the famous English poet said he saw the doppelganger of his wife when he was in Paris. He came back home to find out that his wife gave birth to a stillborn baby.
Basilisk is a legendary giant reptile in European mythology which was known as the king of serpents. The word basilisk is derived from the Greek word basiliskos meaning “a kind of serpent”.
There are three ways the basilisk was depicted in the myths: a giant snake, an enormous lizard or a reptile with scaly wings and some features of a roster like feathers, legs and head.
According to the belief, the basilisk could kill anything with just looking in its eyes much like Gorgons in Greek mythology.
Some other myths suggest that the basilisk could fly, deliver venom by biting its prey and/or breathe fire.
Loup garou is one of the most popular mythical monsters throughout the world joining our list from Cajun and French Canadian folklore.
Also known as rougarou, this creature is basically French and Cajun counterpart of a werewolf.
A person becomes a loup garou if he or she is put under a specific loup garou curse. On the other hand, French Catholics believed that a person became a loup garou if he broke the rules of Lent for 7 years in a row.
Loup garous are very agile and strong creatures. They are weak against fire which is considered by many people to be the only way to kill them.
Cutting the head off or cutting the whole body into pieces are believed to be the other ways to kill a loup garou.
If you would like to learn more about this creature, read our detailed article about loup garous here.
Here comes the first of Greek monsters in our mythical creatures list. Also known as Aegaeon, Briareus is one of the Hecatoncheires in Greek mythology born from Uranus and Gaia. Briareus, the son of these major deities representing Heaven and Earth, had 100 arms and 50 heads.
The word Hecatoncheires is actually derived from Greek words meanings “hundred hands” although some accounts suggest the word briaeros simply means strong.
Some accounts (by Homer and Hesiod) suggest that Briareus and his brothers helped Zeus while he was battling Titans.
On the other hand, some accounts (Hymn to Delos by Callimachus) have Briareus as an enemy of Zeus who was buried under Mount Etna after he was defeated and killed.
Another account refers to him as the god of sea-storms who wed Kymopoleia, one of Poseidon’s daughters. This is the reason he is identified as Aegeon/Aegion (which means something like “of the Aegean Sea”)
Also known as Brunhild, Brünnhilde, Brynhild, Brynhildr is a valkyrie and a shieldmaiden in Norse and Germanic mythologies.
According to the belief, Odin punished Brynhildr to live as a mortal woman after she decided Agnar was the winner of a fight between King Agnar and King Hjalmgunnar, who was preferred by Odin.
Imprisoned in a castle on top of Mount Hindarfjall, Brynhildr got rescued by the hero of the Volsung saga Sigurdr Sigmundson after he killed the dragon Fafnir.
The two fell in love and got married after Sigurdr proposed Brynhildr with the legendary ring Andvaranaut.
On a side note, Brynhildr is known as the mother of Aslaug (Kraka), one of Ragnar Lothbrok’s wives.
Upir is the word used to describe vampires in Slavic cultures although there are some slight difference between the myth regarding upirs and vampires.
As one of those differences, upirs had the ability to walk during the day and did not burn unlike vampires.
There were different opinions as to how an upir could be killed. According to the belief, staking an upir in the heart with a blessed stake would kill the creature while some other people suggested staking in the heart while sinking them in holy water was the way to kill upirs.
Decapitation and incineration were mentioned in the stories as other ways of killing upirs. If you would like to read more about the myth regarding this mythical creature, read our detailed post on upirs here.
Centaurs, also known as Ixionidae, are mythical creatures in Greek mythology with the torso and head of a human being and the body of a horse.
As one of the most popular Greek monsters in mythology, centaurs are known as the children of Nephele (a cloud created in Hera’s image) and Ixion, a king of Lapiths, the most ancient tribe of Thessaly.
Some accounts, however, suggest that centaurs were born from the unity of Magnesian mares and Centaurus (a single centaur considered to be the father of all centaurs).
The most significant centaur mentioned in the myths is Chiron who was known to be a mentor to some important characters in Greek mythology like Achilles and Aesculapius.
Despite being immortal, Chiron, accidentally shot by one of Heracles’ arrows (on which Heracles applied the blood of the Hydra) fell into great agony.
Later, when Heracles asked Zeus to let Prometheus free and Zeus asked for a sacrifice, Chiron volunteered and died to free Prometheus and end his own suffering.
One of the most prominent mythical monsters in Greek mythology, Cerberus, also known as Kerberos, is the giant hound with three heads guarding the gates of the underworld in Greek mythology.
The hound of Hades, which is the child of two monsters, Typhon and Echidna, is depicted as a monster with three heads, a serpent as its tail and a body from which snakes come out.
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