Dogs are wonderful; birds are great; and cats are absolutely adorable. But that doesn’t mean they couldn’t use an upgrade. There are plenty of fictional creatures that we’d jump at the chance to see in real life. From crowd-pleasing unicorns to sphinxes that stem from Greek mythology, there’s an endless array of fantastical beasts to choose from. We’ve narrowed down all those magical and mythical creatures to 10 favorites that would make our lives way more exciting.
One of the hardest parts of having a pet is making up a story about what happened to it when it “goes to a better place,” but with a phoenix you’d never have to worry about that again. The phoenix is a magical firebird, found throughout mythologies across the globe. After the phoenix’s life runs its course, it bursts into flames and is reborn from the ashes. Phoenixes are also thought to have tears that contain medicinal properties and can even be used to revive the dead. Just make sure that when your phoenix finally turns to ash it doesn’t get all over the new rug.
Stories of the unicorn—most often depicted as a horse with a magic horn protruding from its head—have been around since antiquity. During the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the unicorn was seen as a symbol of purity, plus it could make poisonous water drinkable and cure people of serious illness. We could do with a few more unicorns in the world right now.
A bit of mischief never hurt anyone. Leprechauns are known to be pranksters, but if caught, they grant three wishes in exchange for their freedom and, perhaps, even reveal the location of their pot of gold. Today these tricksters are usually depicted wearing green suits and hats, but prior to the 20th century they were also often shown wearing red. They appear in Irish folklore, beginning around Medieval times, typically in stories about unfortunate people who come across one of them only to end up fooled.
Few things seem more nerve-wracking than trying to hold on to the back of a flying half-eagle, half-horse; however, we think we’d enjoy the challenge. The hippogriff is a creature that often possesses the ability to fly and has flown many a hero into battle on its back. Although a bit temperamental, the hippogriff prizes nobility and honor above all things, and is generally depicted as a kind and loyal creature: two qualities we can never refute.
They’re not the safest creatures to have around, but we want dragons in our lives more than we want to avoid the fire hazards that would accompany them. Dragons can be found in both Western and Eastern mythology. In the West, dragons are typically believed to be four-legged, winged creatures with an animal level of intelligence; in the East, dragons are depicted as cunning, four-legged creatures with no wings. Series like Game of Thrones show dragons’ terrifying power, as well as the headaches that would come with owning them. We’re not about to keep a dragon as a pet, but we’re definitely open to their existence in the real world.
Everyone could benefit from brushing up on trivia, and what better way than to constantly have it tested in situations involving life and death? The sphinx is a creature with the head of a woman and the body of a lion. It can be found in Egyptian, Persian, and Greek mythology, and is usually a vicious creature that protects a passageway from undeserving travelers. Death may be an extreme punishment for the wrong answer to “What’s the capital of Wisconsin?” But having a sphinx around would encourage us to go back to our textbooks and really brush up on the facts before leaving the house.
Centaurs are creatures that have the upper half of a human being and the lower half of a horse. They are known to be very intelligent and have a great aptitude for healing. In Greek mythology, centaurs are believed to be the descendants of Centaurus, the deformed son of a cloud nymph and a disgraced king. Centaurus left Mount Olympus and eventually mated with mares on the mountain of Pelion. Centaurs have very different ideologies from humans and often keep to themselves in their own communities. They use divination to predict the future and understand the mysteries of the universe, but they are strongly opposed to tampering with the events they foresee.
It would be incredible if a society of half-humans, half-fish existed just below the ocean’s surface. The earliest known merpeople legends are believed to stem from Syria and to have originated around 1,000 B.C. Those stories centered around the goddess Atargatis, who tried to punish herself by transforming into a fish after she accidentally killed her husband. However, the water wouldn’t let Atargatis hide her beauty, so she remained half human. The nature of merpeople often conflicts across different cultures—some believe merfolk are gentle and benevolent, while others think that they are associated with drownings, storms, and shipwrecks. We hope for the former.
Kelpies are shape-shifting water spirits in Scottish mythology that often take the form of a horse. Kelpies were used as cautionary tales to keep children away from lakes and rivers, and pretty much every major body of water in Scotland is associated with one of these creatures, the most famous being Loch Ness. Kelpies might be terrifying in real life, but it would also be pretty incredible to confirm Nessie’s existence after all this time.
Featured image from "Game of Thrones" via HBO.