MonsterMonsters-both imagined and real-conjure up ghastly images of fangs and cauldrons, murky lakes and fiery caverns, forked tongues and evil eyes.  The following facts concern monsters from various cultures around the world.

First fact of monsters – they’re ugly.  Take the gorgon sisters of Medusa fame.  Apparently they were so ugly, anyone who looked at their hideous faces would be turned into stone. 

Apparently, the ancient Greeks frequently associated monsters with women.  Like the gorgons, the harpies were a plague of creatures with the bodies of birds and the faces of women.

Of course, monstrous behavior could be accomplished by great beauties.  The sirens of the seas lure sailors off their ships to be devoured by waves.  Their extreme beauty and voices are believed to be irresistible.

Not so beautiful, the Aztec Ahuitzotl is a creature of deep water who also likes to lure people into the water to kill them.  He is half monkey and half dog-not a creature you expect to live in a lake at all!

Water babies lure people from the Great Plains into rivers and lakes with their baby-like cries.  Once they’re in the water, the water babies eat them.

A chimera is a monster that breathes fire-much like a dragon.  However it is comprised of three heads:  lion, she-goat and serpent.  It may have gotten its looks from its mother, Echidna, a creature who was half nymph and half serpent.

Griffins are also made up of various parts-it sports the head, wings and beak of an eagle and the legs and body of a lion.

Similarly, the Indian garuda bird is part man and part bird.  In Hindu tales, he is a carrier of knowledge.

The thunderbird of North American beliefs is the bringer of storms.  His flapping winds make the sound of thunder.

Hydras are gigantic snake-like creatures that boast nine heads.

In Swedish lore, the Nakk is a shape changing creature who must rise from a whirl pool to claim a human life each year.

Alkutane are mosquito-size vampires of the Pacific Northwest.  If they fly into a person’s ear, they are likely to drill through the skull to dine on the brains.

Bloody Mary is a ghastly specter that lives in the mirror – she likes to lure children to the other side of the mirror.

The cape-lobo of Brazil can only be killed in its Amazon home if its eye or belly button is pierced by an arrow.

A zombie of Haitian and Caribbean lore, was once a living person.  However, if a sorcerer has dug him up, he becomes a servant to him. 

An Aniwye is a huge skunk-like creature that patrols the caves around the Great Lakes.  Its deadly spray packs a killing stench.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula is actually based on the true accounts of the medieval Vlad the Impaler, a Turk killer, who ruled lands in the area of Romania.

If a cockatrice takes a sip from a well, that well will be poisonous for a century.

In western tradition, fire-breathing dragons are said to emerge from their shells and grow to full size within the span of a few minutes.

Unlike their western counterparts, Chinese dragons do not have wings. 

Gremlins are relatively new creatures of elfin ancestry.  They frequently wreaked havoc on WWI aircraft causing various malfunctions to occur.

In many cultures, especially throughout history, the gods of mythology take on monstrous proportions.  For instance, Mictlantecuhtli, god of the underworld, is depicted as a white skeleton bespotted with blood.

Not all animals are out to do harm.  Take the satyrs for example.  With their horned heads, faces of men and legs of goats, they simply wanted to dance, listen to music and chase nymphs.

Some monsters just like to have a bit of fun.  Russian leshies with green eyes and hair simply like to lure travelers off course until they become lost.

Barbegazi are dwarves that sport frozen beards.  They prefer to surf the avalanches of French and Swiss Alps.

Yeti are the abominable snowmen that haunt the Himilayas with piercing yelps.

The pooka is a shaggy horse who lures people to ride him.  Then he leads them to swampy bog and tips them in. 

Some, like the Erl King, a goblin from Germany’s Black Forest, prefers to lure travelers to their demise so is rather more deadly than mischievous. 

In Finland, ovda prefer to tickle lost travelers to death after wrestling them.

In Scotland, glowing creatures called spunkie have fun by luring travelers off cliffs.

In Romania, beware of a seventh son or daughter.  They have the ability to turn into werewolves.

Bokus are Native American spirits who haunt spruce forests.  With faces full of war paint, they like to drown fisherman.