Harry Potter is back! Well, the Harry Potter universe is back, with the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The movie based on a textbook from Hogwarts follows the misadventures of Newt Scamander, the wizard who will one day write that textbook, as he chases a bunch of magical creatures around 1920s New York City.
Excited fans have already had a blast on the new Magical Creatures Scavenger Hunt, a spellbinding game at New York’s American Museum of Natural History, inspired by the new movie. As fantastic as the beasts on that hunt and in the movie are, mythologies around the world are rife with magical creatures of their own. Here are nine of the weirdest, most obscure, and occasionally freakiest beasts we could find.
Bakhtak: For Unpleasant Dreams
Let’s start with a real creepster. This little gremlin-y dude from Persian mythology is similar to the European concept of the Nightmare, as seen in Fuseli’s famous painting of the same name. Invisible to humans, it sits on your chest in your sleep, not just turning your dreams into nightmare, which is uncool, but also causing sleep paralysis in its victims, which is extremely uncool. All you wanted was a power nap and next thing you know you’re buried alive because a Bakhtak decided to get comfy.
Raiju: For Shocking Side Effects
Aw, hey, it’s a cute little blue guy with lightning powers. A legendary creature from Japanese mythology, and partially the inspiration for the Pokemon Pikachu and Raichu, the Raiju is made of lightning and can take the form of a cat, fox, weasel, or wolf. The cute stops there, though, because he goes nuts in thunderstorms and causes a lot of damage. Oh, also, he sleeps in people’s belly buttons and leaves only when Raijin the thunder god zaps the person with lightning, which is significantly less cute. As a result, some superstitious people sleep on their bellies in bad weather, and others fear sleeping outdoors.
Kappa: Loves Kids (They’re Delicious!)
Another fun one from Japanese mythology, the Kappa is a type of yokai, or ghostly demon thingie, that often looks like a mutant turtle with a small pool of water on its head. Some view them as lovable tricksters, while others say they drown children in rivers, eat human flesh, and occasionally drink the blood of their victims. They’re also fond of cucumbers, because why not?
Nanaue: Beware the Land Shark
Look, out in Hawaii! It’s a shark! It’s a man! No, it’s Nanaue, the magical shark-man. The mythical son of the King of Sharks, Nanaue was born of a human mother and grew up a peaceful, human-looking vegetarian boy. But when he ate meat for the first time, the hidden shark mouth on his back (uh-huh) grew razor-sharp teeth (sure) and he became a ravenous, shapeshifting shark-man. Like you do.
Wolpertinger: Cute as a Weird, Weird Button
OK, this one’s straight-up cute. A hybrid animal from Bavarian mythology, the Wolpertinger is most often depicted with the head of a rabbit, the body of a squirrel, the antlers of a deer, and the wings (and sometimes legs) of a pheasant. It lives in forests. It hops around. It doesn’t kill children or drink blood. It’s just cute. Also, Germans like to sell “real” stuffed Wolpertingers to tourists, in case you ever want one.
Blemmyes: What’d They Do to Deserve This?
And now for something completely different: the Blemmyes, a headless cannibal with its face in its chest. Originally an actual tribe of people that kicked around in the early ADs, the Blemmyes faded into myth as headless monsters, even getting shout-outs in Othello and The Tempest. Shakespeare had a thing for face-chested man-eaters, apparently.
This half-horse, half-rooster shows up in the 9th century BCE on Ancient Greek pottery and stuff. But that’s about it. It doesn’t appear in any known myths or folklore, really. It’s…just a mysterious half-horse, half-rooster.
Qilin: Simply the Best
In the market for a much cooler hybrid animal? Yeah, how does a one-horned magical dragon horse taste? The Qilin, or Kirin, appears in various East Asian mythologies as a good omen presaging serenity or prosperity. Also, it’s got, like, fire all over its body! If you want to be boring, the Qilin is a stylized interpretation of two giraffes that were presented as gifts to an emperor of the Ming Dynasty. We’re not sure how they got from Point G to Point Q, but we’re happy they did because it brought us our favorite one-horned magical dragon horse covered in fire.
Join the Quest for Magical Creatures
New York area hunters can join the new Magical Creatures Scavenger Hunt, though tickets are going fast. Hunters around the country can enjoy Harry Potter–inspired Wizard School Scavenger Hunts as well.
Visit the Public Scavenger Hunt schedule to find more upcoming scavenger hunts. To ask us about arranging a team building activity, such as a corporate scavenger hunt, contact us online or at 877-946-4868, extension 11.