Baku

The Baku is a creature from Japanese lore that devours nightmares.

The baku is a benevolent creature, working with humans and depending upon them for its food. The creature was described as early as the 14th century. It is sometimes described as being from China, and the myths do seem to originate from this country. The baku’s features are not consistent throughout time, sometimes giving the creature horns, the body of a horse, or the eyes of a rhinoceros. It does consistently feature the feet, and sometimes specifically the claws, of a tiger; the trunk of an elephant; and tusks. This composite creature resembles the tapir, so much so that the name is given to both the supernatural and the zoological creature. Modern representations of the baku make it indistinguishable from its mundane namesake.

The baku can be called upon by a person to help deal with nightmares. A baku can be called upon before one goes to sleep, either verbally or through the use of talismans or images of the creature. A person can also invite a baku to eat a nightmare after they wake up. The baku is thought to devour not only the offending dream, but the spirit that brought it, preventing further nightmares. In some stories, the baku may eat someone’s dreams without invitation. This can be troublesome, as an uninvited baku may eat all of the person’s dreams, depriving them of sleep.

Similar to Native American dreamcatchers, the image of the baku can be used to ward off evil dreams as well, be it through drawings, kanji, architectural incorporation, or even toys or dolls of the creature, and can be placed either in the bedroom, in particular under the pillow, or even hung outside the house. This practice became prominent in the Edo period, between 1603 and 1868, and continues today. The baku has also become tied to the Treasure Boats of the Seven Lucky Gods, which has the kanji for “baku” written on the sail. An image of this boat or of the baku is placed under the pillow on the night before the new year begins. It is believed that a good dream that night will ensure good fortune for the year. This is an extension of the belief that if a baku eats bad dreams, they will be transformed into good luck.

The modern tapir-like baku appears in several guises. One of the most popular instances in Western civilization is the Pokémon Drowzee, a yellow and black creature that looks like a bipedal tapir, with the power to eat dreams. They are becoming increasingly common in manga, animation, and video games.

Chamrosh

The chamrosh is a Persian bird with the body of a dog.

Like it’s more famous cousin, the Simurgh (or Senmurv), the chamrosh lives at the peak of Mount Alburz, under the Haoma or Hōm tree, sometimes known as the Harvisptokhm, or “tree of all seeds.” This tree is the source of all the seeds found throughout the world. Whenever the Simurgh takes off or lands on her roost, the seeds of the tree fall to the ground, where the chamrosh gathers them for distribution. The creature uses wings and body to sweep the varied seeds into the heavenly Vourukasha Sea. From there the seeds would be taken up into clouds and rained down upon the Earth.

According to the Avesta, it is also charged with the protection of Persia. Every three years, the chamrosh is sent by an angel to snatch invaders and drop them from mountaintops to protect the land.

Some accounts claim that the chamrosh is the archetype of all birds, and the ruler of all avifauna. However, it is more common to see the Simurgh given this role. As the chamrosh is less well-known and bears a strong resemblance to early depictions of the larger creature, it is possible that the attributes of the two creatures is being mixed up. In more recent stories of the Simurgh, the chamrosh is completely removed, and the function of distributing seeds is achieved through the flapping of her wings. It is possible that she inherited the other abilities and responsibilites of the chamrosh as the mythology changed and the chamrosh faded into obscurity. The chamrosh is rarely seen in modern works. A creature by the same name, although looking more like a pink parrot with a long tail, appears as a monster in the video game Final Fantasy XI.

Tatzelwurm

The Tatzelwurm is an Alpine dragon-like creature with two legs near the front of the body.

It is known in Switzerland, Austria, and Germany. It is aggressive, reported to attack livestock and, sometimes, humans. It ranges in size from two to six feet, with two legs in front of the body forcing it to slither or drag itself along the ground. Many accounts claim it is stumpy, with short legs and a wide snake-like body. Very rarely it is said to have four legs, but these are usually too small to be useful. In either case, the animal is said to have three large claws on each foot. Rearing up to intimidate prey or threats is common, as is making disconcerting noises that scare humans. It is sometimes described as having cat-like features, including large eyes and ear-like structures, but it has an overall reptilian appearance. In some stories, it is highly poisonous.

The first known story involving the creature includes two of them appearing before a farmer, Hans Fuchs. In some retellings of this story, as well as one of the most popular paintings of the beast, the tatzelwurms are attacking a pig. No matter what their target, their appearance seems to have so upset Fuchs that he died of a heart attack after running home and telling his family about the horrible creatures he just saw. Reports have been made as recently as the 1970s, but in modern times interest and reports have dwindled to the point that cryptozoologist believe that if it ever did exist, it is now extinct. Two of the most famous reports involve “evidence” in the form of  a skeleton supposedly donated to the Geneva Institute after a single photograph was taken before it was “lost” and a photograph taken in 1934 by Belkin. Both are considered to be falsified, although the photograph sparked enough interest for the Berliner Illustrierte to put together an expedition in search of the creature. Nothing was found, and public interest in the creature was lost.

This creature is a variant of the heraldic lindworm, and has several different regional names. While Tatzelwurm, the most common term for the creature, translates to “clawed worm,” other names include Bergstutzen (“mountain stump”), Springwurm (“jumping wyrm”), and Stollenwurm (“tunnel snake”). The latter name is also used for a creature found in Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series, which are built similarly to this monster. The tatzelwurm and stollenwurm, along with a beast with the alternatively spelled name “tatzlwurm,” also appear as monsters in the Final Fantasy video game series, although these renditions resemble more traditional western dragons, each sporting wings and legs capable of holding the body off the ground. Some cryptozoologists believe it is a relation of the Gila Monster, or even some variant of otter.

Camphurcii

The Camphurcii is an amphibious creature native to the Island of Molucca.

Described by André Thévet in Cosmography of the Levant, published in 1554, this animal has the body and forelegs of a deer, but the hind legs are those of a goose. It is endemic to “the Island of Molucca,” although which location is meant is difficult to ascertain, as the name has been used for several different islands. Its diet consists entirely of fish, and it is probably this, along with the strange construction of the body, that restricted it to the shores of the island.

Most impressive about this creature is the single three-foot horn protruding from the Camphurcii‘s forehead. Like the land-bound unicorn, the horn is purported to be a remedy against poisoning. Already considered rare because of it’s very limited habitat, if it did exist this creature would easily be pushed to extinction if it were hunted for its horn.

Leucrocotta

The Leucrocotta, also called the leucrotta, is a large hyena-like predator. Although stories of it come from Europe, it is reputed to live in India and northern Africa.

According to Pliny the Elder, in book 8 of his Natural History, the leucrocotta is the offspring of an Ethiopian lioness with another monster, the crocotta. Despite neither parent bearing resemblance to hoofed animals, the leucrocotta is said to have the haunches of a stag, as well as the chest, neck, and tail of a lion and the head of a badger, standing about the height of an ass. There is no mention of the forelegs. It is incredibly fast, sometimes called the fasted creature alive. According to some reports, it’s neck is so stiff that is must turn its body in order to move its head, while others report eyes that are thousands of colors, ever-changing, or somehow some kind of gemstone, although all of these attributes are found only in later documentation.

The two most distinctive features of this monster are its mouth and it’s voice. The mouth extends all the way back to the ears, and instead of individual teeth it sports a single shearing ridge of bone along each jaw, indicating it probably swallows what it eats without chewing. It is also able to create a wide variety of sounds, including mimicking human speech. The leucrocotta is known to listen for the name of a victim, then call that person into the night. It retreats into cover, usually the forest, until there is no chance that the victim will be able to call for help or run away, and only then kills its prey.

The leucrocotta bears strong resemblance to the hyena. The laughing call of the hyena may be the inspiration for the leucrocotta‘s ability to mimic speech. It also has some strong similarity with the prehistoric Mesonychids, an extinct order of carnivorous hoofed mammals, including Andrewsarchus, made famous in the BBC production Walking with Beasts. Mesonychids were possibly land-dwelling relatives of whales and dolphins, but are also related to modern sheep and goats.

Balena

This is the Balena.

She–because this is a strictly female monster–is an enormous fish. She is, in fact, one of the animals seen on maps accompanied by the words “Here be monsters.” If the name sounds familiar, that’s because science used it to designate baleen whales, among which are the largest creatures to ever exist on earth. It’s also the Latin name for “whale.” The balena, like her mundane cousins, is enormous. European sailors were in danger from this creature both because the mouth is large enough to tear apart ships and because of its habit of spewing huge amounts of water from itself, both from the mouth and the jets in the creature’s head. The mouth is so large, in fact, that in bad weather or in the face of danger she is able to hide her young inside it until she judges it safe, behavior seen in some real fishes. Balena give live birth and are known to sleep, although her male counterpart, the musculus, is said to come from eggs.

The balena is very buoyant, and as a result not terribly nimble. According to some sources, she floats at the surface of the ocean when in distress. She is also highly vulnerable to attacks from creatures like the orchun, which is said to first tear open the balena‘s belly, from which she cannot defend herself, and then throw rocks at her as she sinks to the ocean floor. The name of this beast is similar to the orca or killer whale, which is known to prey upon large whales, although there is very little known about the creature and no visual information to make this certain. For a large creature, the balena is also remarkably short-lived. According to one source, she only lives for ten years.

Hippalectryon

This is the hippalectryon, with the head and forequarters of a horse and the wings, tail, and hindquarters of a rooster.

The hippalectryon is odd in that it does not seem to have a story attached to it. Instead, it shows up in ancient Greek black-figure pottery and coins. Sometimes it is depicted with a rider, and often this is a small boy. Some scholars argue that this is an alternative representation of Pegasus, or else that the creature is based on early, changing representations of its more famous cousin.

It is an awkward combination of horse and cockerel, somehow able to attain flight even with a rider despite having the wings of domesticated fowl. Without any story, it is difficult to determine anything about the beast’s behavior for certain. It is possible that the properties attributed to the two animals that make up the hippalectryon are present in the beast. Roosters were thought to ward off evil spirits with their crowing, while horses were often funerary symbols, escorting the dead to the afterlife.  Because it is intentionally ridiculous, it is possible that the creature is designed to protect against evil by inducing laughter.

With that in mind, go on. Laugh at him. He won’t mind. That’s the point of him, after all.