Skip to main content

100 Greatest Mythological and Legendary Creatures

I have been an online writer for over six years. I am passionate about books, philosophy, music, and the music industry.

This article presents an epic list of the 100 greatest beasts and beings of mythology, legend and folklore. You'll learn about the potential origins and debated existence of mythical creatures.

This article presents an epic list of the 100 greatest beasts and beings of mythology, legend and folklore. You'll learn about the potential origins and debated existence of mythical creatures.

What Is a Mythological Creature?

A mythological creature, also referred to as a legendary creature or mythical creature, is a fictional, supernatural and imaginary animal or hybrid being (meaning it can sometimes be part human). The existence of legendary creatures or mythological creatures referred to in ancient traditional circles has not been proven.

However, the presence of these creatures has often been described in folklore, legends, fables, poetry, mythology, fairy tales, novels, myths and other varied forms of fiction. Purists are of the opinion that mythical creatures have been described in historical accounts long before history emerged as a branch of science. The beliefs and mindsets associated with mythical beasts are varied and bring to life a plethora of theories about their existence or non-existence.

Do Mythological Creatures Exist?

Carolyne Larrington, a professor at Oxford, has pointed out that myths, legends and folktales sometimes share similarities across continents and cultures. One important reason for this is that they are "rooted in general human experience. Our shared biology and universally similar life-cycles, from birth, marriage, child-rearing, ageing and death, may generate broadly similar stories."

However, Wiccan authors such as D.J. Conway are of a different mindset and have written manuals and books to help people from every walk of life harness the energies and abilities of mythical and magical creatures. For such thinkers, these creatures have both symbolic and literal spiritual value.

An Epic Collection of Mythical Creatures

Despite your opinion on the reality of mythological and legendary beasts and creatures, we've created a helpful list of 100 of the greatest and most iconic of these beings for you to enjoy.

This article showcases an epic collection of mythical creatures that fascinate and evoke the curiosity of the unknown. If you have a view, opinion, or creature suggestion, let us know in the comments section.

The mandrake is the root of a plant from genus Mandragora, which is part of the nightshade family. Legend has it that when it is dug up it screams and kills all who hear it. The plant was also used in the Middle Ages for magical potions.

The mandrake is the root of a plant from genus Mandragora, which is part of the nightshade family. Legend has it that when it is dug up it screams and kills all who hear it. The plant was also used in the Middle Ages for magical potions.

Top 10 Greatest Mythological Creatures and Legendary Creatures of Myth and Folklore

  1. Werewolf: Wolf-human shapeshifter (Global Culture)
  2. Dragon: Depicted as fire-breathing and winged (Global Culture)
  3. Chimera: Hybrid Fire-breathing creature (Greek Mythology)
  4. Loch Ness Monster: Aquatic monster (Scottish Folklore)
  5. Mermaid: Human-fish Hybrid (Global Culture)
  6. Yeti: Ape-like being/entity (Nepalese Folklore)
  7. Basilisk: Legendary reptile often called the “King of Reptiles” (European Mythology)
  8. Sphinx: Human-headed lion (Greek Mythology)
  9. Medusa: Winged female monster who had venomous in place of hair (Greek Mythology)
  10. Griffin: Tail, legs and body of a lion and wings and head of an eagle (Ancient Egyptian Mythology)
100-greatest-mythological-creatures-and-legendary-creatures-of-myth-and-folklore

The Existence or Non-Existence of Legendary Creatures and Mythological Creatures

The word legend is associated with ethnic groups and animals from the ancient world and often draws a parallel as a comparison with something unknown. Thus, mythological creatures or legendary creatures are associations with beliefs that stem from the unknown. Little is known about these beings except the fact that they may only exist as beliefs.

Since the dawn of human life, unknown living beings or elusive animals seen or encountered for the first time have been accounted for in narratives that have gradually grown into legends associated with mythical beasts. This theory provides an explanation as to why humans believe in legendary creatures; however, the truth remains unclear.

Monstrous, mythical and legendary creatures have often been depicted and described in different genres such as art, fantasy, literature, history, folklore, and fiction. A lot of medieval art depicts the presence of mythological animals and mythical beings that are part human, part animal.

While ancient paintings, art and sculpture signify the existence of creatures, there is not enough evidence or strong, significant explanations to prove mythical beings do indeed exist.

#11—20

11. Centaur: Horse with an upper human body (Greek Mythology)

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Owlcation

12. Hippogriff: Hind half of horse and front half of an eagle (Medieval Bestiaries)

13. Fairy: Metaphysical form of spirit (European Folklore)

14. Kappa: Demon or Imp (Japanese Folklore)

15. Pegasus: Divine winged stallion (Greek Mythology)

16. Ghoul: A monster associated with eating flesh in graveyards (Arabian Mythology)

17. Pixie: Nature spirits and little people (Cornish Folklore)

18. Cyclops: One-Eyed Giants (Greek Mythology)

19. Redcap: Murderous goblin (Border Folklore)

20. Manticore: Similar to the Sphinx consisting of a human head, lion's body with tail of poisonous spines (Persian Folklore)

A mermaid is a hybrid mythological being that is half human female, half fish. A merman is its male equivalent. This hybrid being has appeared in folklore accounts of many cultures across the world.

A mermaid is a hybrid mythological being that is half human female, half fish. A merman is its male equivalent. This hybrid being has appeared in folklore accounts of many cultures across the world.

Beliefs Associated With Mythical Creatures in Various Cultures

Belief in the existence of mythical creatures is prevalent in many cultures. Folklore is considered the root that such beliefs stem from. Since ancient times, people have chosen to believe or not believe in legends about mythological creatures.

Ancient beliefs and legends about creatures are also thought to have stemmed perhaps from sightings of elusive animals. These animals have then gone on to be described as mythical beasts in stories and subsequent interpretations.

In certain cultures, mythical beings are deities that are worshiped. Certain creatures in legends are considered symbolic of evil, while other mythological beings are a representation of peace. Furthermore, certain legendary creatures are known to be gods and goddesses possessing varied sets of powers and abilities. Mythical creatures have also been associated with superstition and luck in terms of good and bad omens.

Some theories hold that these deities, gods, and beings are early cultures' representations of aspects of nature. These representations were thought to be real, and humans gave sacrifices and prayers to them to attempt to influence the world in which they lived.

#21—40

21. Typhon: Deadly Serpentine Giant (Greek Mythology)

22. Sea Serpent: A large type of dragon-snake monster found in the sea (Greek Mythology)

23. Leprechaun: Fairies depicted as little men (Irish Folklore)

24. Fenrir: Gigantic monstrous wolf (Norse Mythology)

25. Hippocampus: Lower body of a fish and upper body of a horse (Etruscan Mythology)

26. Cipactli: Sea monster associated with being part frog, part fish and part crocodilian (Aztec Mythology)

27. Imp: Similar to goblin or fairy (European Folklore)

28. Minotaur: Creature with Human body and Bull’s head (Greek Mythology)

29. Hydra: Serpentine water Monster (Roman Mythology/Greek Mythology)

30. Fomorians: Monstrous and hostile beings (Irish Mythology)

31. Charybdis: Deadly Sea Monster (Greek Mythology)

32. Behemoth: Massive beast, believed to be like a hybrid of dinosaur or crocodile (Ancient Jewish)

33. Cerberus: Three-headed dog referred to as “Hound of Hades” associated with guarding the gates of the Underworld. (Greek Mythology)

34. Echidna: Monster that was half-snake and half woman referred to as the “mother of Monsters” (Greek Mythology)

35. Adlet: Creature with upper human body and lower body of a canine (Inuit Mythology)

36. Cacus: Fire-Breathing Giant (Roman Mythology)

37. Hecatoncheires: Three Ferocious giants with incredible strength (Greek Mythology)

38. Geryon: Monster with three human-like heads (Greek Mythology)

39. Scorpion Man: Creature with body of scorpion and arms, torso and head of human (Akkadian Mythology)

40. Fachan: Ferocious Giant with Half a body (Scottish-Irish Mythology)

Dragons are well-known mythical creatures. They are serpents that can breathe fire and fly and they appear in the folklore of many cultures around the world. They are perhaps best known in the western world as the enemies of medieval knights.

Dragons are well-known mythical creatures. They are serpents that can breathe fire and fly and they appear in the folklore of many cultures around the world. They are perhaps best known in the western world as the enemies of medieval knights.

Creatures in Traditional Mythology

Traditional mythologies associated with different regions of the world have varied mythical creatures that are fascinating and beyond the realms of understanding and imagination. While many believe creatures in their different forms did exist in traditional mythology, the truth is far from known.

For example, the Greek epic The Odyssey by Homer mentions fierce and monstrous creatures such as Scylla, Charybdis and Cyclops. Scylla and Charybdis were both sea monsters, while Cyclops was a one-eyed giant. While they have never been seen in modern times, their story is buried in the dark past of early recorded human history. It leaves us to wonder whether the story depicts creatures that died out in prehistory.

In other epic tales, creatures such as Medusa, the Minotaur and the Hydra have often been discussed. Many creatures of the classical era, such as the Flying Horse, Centaur, Triton and Chimera have been depicted in stone carvings, sculptures and paintings. Did mythical animals exist? While the existence of legendary creatures is shrouded in myth, some lingering belief in their existence cannot be denied.

#41—60

41. Ogre: Predatory grotesque hominid monster (European Mythology/Folklore)

42. Humbaba: Lion-Faced Giant (Ancient Mesopotamian Mythology)

43. Scylla: Monster that lived by the water (Greek Mythology)

44. Hadhayosh: Gigantic land Creature (Persian Mythology)

45. Kee-wakw: Cannibalistic Giant half-human and half-animal (Abenaki Mythology)

46. Abaia: A magical eel (Melanesian Mythology)

47. Calygreyhound: Creature with torso of antelope, head of a wild cat and claws on an eagle (Medieval Heraldry)

48. Phoenix: A mythical bird with long life (Greek Mythology)

49. Tarasque: Fearsome Dragon-like hybrid (French Mythology)

50. Cockatrice: Two-legged serpent like dragon creature with head of a rooster (Medieval Bestiaries)

51. Harpy: Half-bird and half human associated with storm winds (Greek Mythology)

52. Makara: Sea Creature often depicted as a terrestrial animal (Hindu Mythology)

53. Ammit: Human devourer with a body believed to be part hippopotamus, crocodile, and lion (Egyptian Mythology)

54. Garuda: Human-eagle hybrid known to be a protector (Hindu/Jain/Buddhist Mythology)

55. Winged Lion: Mythical beast lion with bird-like wings (Medieval Bestiaries)

56. Leviathan: Huge Sea Monster (Jewish Mythology)

57. Wyvern: A creature with reptilian body and dragon’s wings and head (European Heraldry)

58. Namazu: Giant Catfish known to cause earthquakes (Japanese Mythology)

59. Yale/Centicore: Four-legged beast creature with boar-like tusks, large horns and resembling a goat-antelope (European Mythology)

60. Questing Beast: Serpent-leopard-lion-hart hybrid (Arthurian legend)

The griffin is a familiar example of a hybrid mythical beast. It has the torso, head, wings, and talons of an eagle, and the lower abdomen, hind legs and feet, and tail of a lion. They famously pulled the Greek sun god Apollo through the sky.

The griffin is a familiar example of a hybrid mythical beast. It has the torso, head, wings, and talons of an eagle, and the lower abdomen, hind legs and feet, and tail of a lion. They famously pulled the Greek sun god Apollo through the sky.

Theories About Legendary Creatures and Mythical Creatures

There are numerous theories and evidence of sightings mentioned in books that lead one to believe certain mythical animals do exist. Some theories talk about a mythical existence in a parallel universe. While these theories have not been proven (and might be impossible to prove), belief among believers is exceedingly high. A number of references to the presence of mythical beings in the Middle Ages have been made in books.

Belief in the existence of mythical beings is strong because of the mention of certain mythological creatures in holy books. For example, the Bible mentions creatures such as dragons and unicorns. While religious experts debate whether creatures mentioned in holy books have been used in a metaphoric manner, interpretations among historians and scholars are varied.

#61—80

61. Elf: Supernatural beings with magical powers (Germanic Mythology/Folklore)

62. Mares of Diomedes: Quartet of flesh-eating/Man-eating horses (Greek Mythology)

63. Serpopard: Mythical animal with body of a leopard and neck of a snake (Egyptian Mythology)

64. Antero Vipunen: A giant known to possess knowledge and spells (Finish Mythology)

65. Indus Worm: Gigantic white carnivorous worm (Medieval Bestiaries)

66. Ahuizotl: Dog-like creature (Aztec Mythology)

67. Psoglav: Dog-headed monster with human body and horse legs (Serbian Mythology)

68. Aspidochelone: Giant Sea Monster with spines on back (Medieval folklore)

69. Sirin: Creature with Body of a bird and chest and head of a woman (Russian Mythology)

70. Cynocephaly: Jackal-headed humanoid (Medieval Bestiaries)

71. Myrmecoleon: Ant-Lion hybrid (Medieval Bestiaries)

72. Argus Panoptes: Multi-eyed monster (Greek Mythology)

73. Ekek: Bird-like flesh-eating creature (Philippine Mythology)

74. Oozlum Bird: Mythical bird known to fly backward (Australian Folklore)

75. Hellhound: Underworld dog with super-strength and agility (Global Culture)

76. Monocerus: Horse with tail of a boar, feet of elephant, and head of stag with a single horn (Medieval Bestiaries)

77. Water Leper: Gigantic frog with a tail similar to lizard and bat wings in place of forelegs (Welsh Mythology/Folklore)

78. Ophiotaurus: Serpent-Bull hybrid (Greek Mythology)

79. Unktehila: Reptilian monster or Serpentoid creature (Lakota Mythology)

80. Capacun: Monstrous humanoid associated with evil (Romanian Mythology/Folklore)

Werewolves are a widespread feature of European mythology. A werewolf is a human who is afflicted either with a curse or spell that makes them turn into a hybrid man-wolf during the full moon. Belief in werewolves developed during the Middle Ages.

Werewolves are a widespread feature of European mythology. A werewolf is a human who is afflicted either with a curse or spell that makes them turn into a hybrid man-wolf during the full moon. Belief in werewolves developed during the Middle Ages.

What Makes Mythical Beasts Real

While the existence of mythical beasts may not be widely believed, the possibility of the unknown taking the form of an animal, hybrid, or part animal-part human does exist. Man’s belief in an unknown existence stems from what is seen and heard. Many may choose to believe myths, legends, fables, and stories, while many others may want an explanation, evidence and/or proof of what is said in such stories.

A number of theories that make mythical creatures real, or rather seem real, are based on accounts of the real-life encounters of man in early times. The bits and pieces of sightings and encounters of early man have given shape to theories of the existence of the unknown.

#81—100

81. Mapinguari: Ape-like giant sloth (Brazilian Mythology/South American Folklore)

82. Yali: Lion-like creature (Hindu Mythology)

83. Fish-Man: Amphibian Human-looking Cryptid (Cantabrian Mythology)

84. Asakku: Monsters and evil spirits known to kill humans (Babylonian Mythology)

85. Sleipnir: Eight-legged Horse believed to be ridden by Odin (Norse Mythology)

86. A-senee-ki-wakw: Stone giant race (Abenaki Mythology)

87. Ushi-oni: Bull-headed monster with a horn (Japanese Mythology)

88. Longma: Winged Horse that had scales of a dragon (Chinese Mythology)

89. Nguruvilu: Fox-like snake found by water beds. (Mapuche Mythology/Folklore)

90. Lou Carcolh: Hybrid of Snake-Mollusk (French Mythology/Folklore)

91. Yacuruna: Mythical people with head and feet backward believed to live in underwater colonies. (indigenous Amazonian Mythology)

92. Bashee: Giant snake known to eat elephants (Chinese Mythology)

93. Teju Jagua: Lizard-dog hybrid with seven dog heads (Guarani Mythology)

94. Indrik: One-horned gigantic bull with deer legs and head of a horse vaguely resembling a rhinoceros (Russian Mythology/Folklore)

95. Onocentaur: Human-Donkey Hybrid (Medieval Bestiaries)

96. Simargl: Winged dog or lion (Slavic Mythology)

97. Erchitu: Ox-humanoid (Sardinian Mythology)

98. Huay Chay: Half-man, half beast creature (Mayan Mythology)

99. Laestrygonians: Man-eating giants (Greek Mythology)

100. Mboi Tui: Hybrid serpent-peacock monster (Guarani Mythology)

Sources and Further Reading

Ashman, Malcolm. (1997). Fabulous Beasts. The Overlook Press.

Connor, Steven. (2014). "How Did Our Legends Really Begin?" The Independent.

Conway, D.J. (2001). Magickal, Mystical Creatures: Invite Their Powers into Your Life (2nd ed.). Llewellyn Publications.

Ellis, Richard. (2006). Monsters of the Sea. Lyons Press.

Larrington, Carolyne. (2019). "Where Do Myths, Legends and Folktales Come From?" TORCH, University of Oxford.

Nigg, Joe. (1999). The Book of Fabulous Beasts: A Treasury of Writings from Ancient Times to Present. Oxford University Press.

Radford, Benjamin. (2011). "Mythical Creatures: Beasts That Don't Exist (Or Do They?)" Live Science.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Ansel Pereira

Comments

rhea on September 10, 2020:

so informative

bruh on January 11, 2020:

Most of the creatures are from Europe. You should add more diversity to it.

Nirmalya on November 25, 2019:

Wow Man You're So Intelligent

It Is Interesting.

Related Articles