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Interesting (and terrifying) creatures from German myths

In different parts of the world, people explained nature and its phenomenons through storytelling and myths. It reflected their understanding of the world at that time as books that explain basic scientific principles were yet to be written, and the universal database of knowledge - the Internet - was yet to be invented. As the stories were told, sometimes the animals in these stories changed their appearance, getting an extra limb, or their behavior, appearing only to those who walk in the Black Forest in the middle of the night... Let's take a look at the most fascinating - and sometimes scary! - creatures from Germanic mythology.

  1. Wolpertinger


This strange rabbit with antlers is said to inhabit the picturesque forests of Bavaria. The origins of Wolpertinger might come from popular culture inspired by earlier myths and folklore. Often perceived as a ‘mashup’ of various animals and their parts, the Wolpertinger does bear similarity to the mythical Rasselbock from Thuringia (southern Germany) and even the Jackalope of America. To that end, the critter is described as having the head of a hare (or rabbit), the body of a squirrel (or hare), the antlers of a deer, and wings (and sometimes webbed feet) of a pheasant or duck. According to a legend, a Wolpertinger can be caught if a beautiful woman will call a Wolpertinger in the forest at night.

2. Herkynischer Vogel


Herkynische Vogel, or the Hercynia bird appeared in many medieval legends. It referred to a bird that is born in the Hercynian forest of Germany - an ancient dense forest that stretched across southern Germany and further into Central Europe. It was said to have luminescent feathers and that it illuminated dark paths of the forest.

3. Tatzelwurm


Tatzelwurm was believed to be a lizard-like creature, often described as having the face of a cat, with a serpent-like body which may be slender or stubby, with four short legs or two forelegs. They can walk upright using their legs. They have the reputation to be malicious, yet astoundingly curious.

This creature is said to be venomous for humans, or to attack with poisonous breath, and to make a high-pitched or hissing sound.

A four-legged, cat-faced "mountain dragon" was described by one Andreas Roduner as something he encountered in 1660 on Mt. Wangersberg, and when it reared up on its hind legs it became tall as a man, with boar-like bristles running down its back.

Surprisingly, this creature was such a popular encounter across the Alps that it got different names in Switzerland, France, and Austria, and more details to its appearance over time. One man said that when he saw Tatzelwurm, it had a lizard-like body and no cat face, while other story featured a dragon with an enormous head and the breath that made an author dizzy.

4. Seeschwein


Seeschwein (or a sea swine) was the creature from German legends featuring sea monsters. It was believed to be spotted by sailors in North Sea above Germany in the 16th century. They described him as having a hog's head, dragon's feet, sharp tusks, and eyes all over its body. Stories like this expressed people's fascination with the depths of the sea where creatures unlike anything on Earth might be encountered.

5. Alfin


Alfin came from Germanic heraldry: it is a rare creature, described to be a wolf like creature with forked tongue, eagle forelimbs, lion mane, pointed ears, and a long knotted tail, similar to that of the griffin. Sometimes it is depicted as having an eagle's talons on its forelegs, other times they are cloven, like a goat's. Occasionally all four feet are depicted as having the claws of a lion.

If you had a chance to create your own mythological creature, what would it look like?

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