Region of origin: Waipio Valley, Hawai’i
Kamohoali, a god and the king of all sharks, was swimming close to the Waipio Valley on the big island of Hawaii, was struck by the a woman who had gone swimming late at night, Kalei. Posing as a human chief, he returned to land and sought her out, the two falling in love and eventually getting married. They lived together and in time Kalei became pregnant with a son. Kamohoali realized he could not stay on land forever and had to return to the sea. Heartbroken, he disappeared, in some versions informing Kalei of his divine nature and others he did not, but before leaving he had instructed Kalei that their son must never eat animal flesh. The son, Nanaue, was born with a large gaping hole in his back, resembling a fish’s mouth. Kalei did her best to hide this, and prevent Nanaue from eating meat as she was told, but when he came of age his grandfather, hoping his grandson would grow up into a great warrior, fed him a large, meat-heavy meal. After this, the mouth in Nanaue’s back grew shark-like fangs, he became filled with a voracious hunger and found he could take on the form of a shark when he entered the water. As he grew, the hunger increased, and he could not resist eating the other villagers as they swam in the water. He was eventually found out and chased out of the village. He fled to Maui and attempted to start a new life, marrying a local chiefess, but eventually his hunger got the better of him and was once again chased off after being unable to help himself from eating a young girl, this time arriving in Molokai where he led a more secretive life. He was able to control his more violent urges for a time, but he still went into the water and took on his shark form as discreetly as possible. One night a local caught him shape-shifting and, having heard the tales of a murderous shark-man from the other islands, got other villagers together and caught Nanaue, bringing him to shore and beating him to death.
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Echidna and Typhon
Region of origin: Greece
The mother and father of monsters, Echidna and Typhon (or Typhoeus) are attributed as being the progenitors of most of the more famous beasts and creatures of Greek mythology, including the chimaera, dragons, Scylla, the Lernaean hydra and the multi-headed hounds Orthrus and Cerebus to name only a few. Each have a variety of origins attributed to them: Typhon was often said to be born of Gaia and Tartarus in response to Zeus’ imprisonment of the Titans or slaying of the Giants and often fought the gods, eventually laying seige to Mount Olympus and attempting to overthrow them. Zeus met Typhon in combat and eventually defeated him, sealing him underneath Mount Etna, leading to an association with volcanic activity as he raged against his prison. Echidna’s origins and lineage are less clearly defined but it is agreed by several sources that she was an Oceanid nymph and her father was the sea god Phorcys, although some tellings give her parents as Gaia and Tartarus as well. She has a less storied history than her husband or offspring, but was said to live in a cave the pair shared and make a meal of any humans who happened to venture too close. In some versions of the story Echidna accompanied Typhon on his siege of Olympus but after Typhon’s defeat and punishment Zeus showed mercy to Echidna and allowed her to simply return home.
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The Stiff-Legged Bear
Region of origin: Various northern indigenous tribes of North America
Also known as Gici Awas to the Abenaki, Nyah-Gwaheh to the Seneca and Iroquois, and a host of other names among several other tribes, details of stories involving the Stiff-Legged or Naked Bear may change between groups but all share a description of a type of massive, hairless bear with a larger-than-normal head, large sharp teeth and the stiff-jointed legs from which it takes its name. They are often depicted as especially aggressive man-eaters. An Iroquois legend in particular identifies it as the bear associated with the Big Dipper constellation, who is hunted through the sky and slain causing its dripping blood to stain the leaves red each autumn, only for the beast to rise again from the dead each year and repeat the cycle. There is some belief the common description may originate from a corruption of descriptions of mammoths remembered through ancestral stories, or arisen as an explanation after the discovery of mammoth skulls or fossils.
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Region of origin: Northern Australia
In Tiwi folklore, the Papinijuwari were a race of cycloptic giants who lived in a hut at the end of the sky. They carried clubs and torches, and it was believed shooting stars were actually the giants on the move through the sky. Looked down up even by other giants and malevolent creatures, the Papinijuwari were ghoulish creatures who fed on the flesh of the dead and drank the blood of the sick, attracted to victims by the smell of the disease. They were capable of rendering themselves invisible and also changing size, able to shrink down and drink the blood from the inside.
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Region of origin: Mexico and Central America
Children of the Aztec gods of agave and fertility, the Centzon Totchtin, or “Four Hundred Rabbits,” are a collection of minor rabbit-deities representing the numerous aspects of intoxication and drunken reveling, which they often partook in themselves (there may not be exactly four hundred of them, the term may be meant to imply there’s just too many of them to count). There were gods of excess, blurred vision and dance, but Ometochtli (“Two Rabbit,” also known Tepoztecatl) was the chief deity among the rabbits and considered the god of pulque, a traditional drink made from fermented agave, itself.
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Region of origin: India
Alternatively a class of demons or nature spirits in Hindu and Buddhist mythology, the male Rakshasa and female Rakshasi are not as a species considered universally evil but are primarily known for their bloodthirsty behavior and tendency to eat human flesh. They were believed to have been accidentally created by Brahma in his sleep, and immediately attacked the god as he slept, resulting in their banishment to the Earth. The Rakshasa were depicted as large, bestial humanoids with long curling fangs and horns, but as they grew in power and age they may develop extra heads and arms, such as their king Ravana, who had ten heads and twenty arms. The Rakshasa were powerful warriors skilled in forms of armed combat and magics such as illusion and shapeshifting. They were often used in stories as threats for a hero to overcome and armies of Rakshasa were said to feast on their victims on the battlefield as they pushed forward, but some were depicted as heroic and aided the various protagonists in vanquishing whatever evil they faced.
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Region of origin: Mesopotamia
Labbu, the lion-serpent, was a massive dragon spoken of in what remains today only as fragmentary texts. Thought to be created by the chief deity Enlil, to eliminate humanity which had become a nuisance to him, Labbu terrorized the beasts of the sea, air and land, including the cities of man. The other gods, fearing the power of the creature, enlisted a hero Tishpak to slay the creature and aided him in performing the task, though the specifics of the fight have been lost. After being slain, it was said Labbu was so massive it took three years, three months and a day for the body to fully bleed out.
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