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Creatures and Characters in American Mythology

Updated on December 10, 2017
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Verity is a physics with teaching BSc (Hons) graduate. In her spare time, she likes to cook, read and play video games.

Ahuizotl - Mexico

The ahuizotl is a creature found in Aztec mythology. The creature lives in the water and as such has waterproof fur, which clumps together to create spikes; giving it the appearance of being spiny. The ahuizotl is also described as being dog-like. The ahuizotl has a hand at the end of its tail which it uses to garb people and drag them down into the water to drown them. The ahuizotl is feared as it not only likes to drown people, but to devour their flesh too, more specifically their eyes, nails and teeth.

A depiction of an Ahuitzotl
A depiction of an Ahuitzotl | Source

Chupacabra - Puerto Rico

The name of the chupacabra translates literally as "goat sucker", this is due to the animals habit of attacking and drinking the blood of local livestock; goats in particular. As eyewitness accounts vary, so do the physical descriptions of the chupacabra. The most common description is that it is a reptile the size of a small bear, has scaly skin, hops like a kangaroo and has spines along its back, starting at the neck and following right to the end of the tail.

A drawing of the Chupacabra based on the most common description.
A drawing of the Chupacabra based on the most common description. | Source

Curupira - Brazil

The Curupira is a creature found in Brazilian folklore. While it bares a resemblance to common traits found in West African and European faeries; the Curupira is considered to be demonic in nature due to its 'trickster' attitude. In the legend the Curupira is a man or a dwarf with fiery red hair, the only difference from man being that his feet are turned backwards. Living in the forest he uses these backwards feet to create fake footprints in order to confuse hunters or travellers passing through. It is also said that he can make people hallucinate and hear high pitched whistling sounds, both of which the Curupira uses to drive people mad. Sometimes seen as a protector of the forest he will use these powers to punish poachers or people who wish to harm the forest or the animals residing there.

"Curupira". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons -
"Curupira". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons -

Jersey Devil - USA

The Jersey Devil is a creature which is said to live in the Pine Barrens in New Jersey. Accounts of this creature vary from witness to witness which makes a description difficult to exact. Common features include a goat head, wings like a bat, horns, clawed hands, cloven hooves and a forked tail. It is said that the Jersey Devil can move extremely quickly and often screams. The most popular origin story is that it was born in 1735 as the 13th child of a couple; the mother being a witch and the father being the Devil himself. Upon being born the baby transformed, killed the midwife and then flew away. It is commonly accepted that the Jersey Devil myth is the result of hoaxes however some people still believe and look for proof that it does exist.

A photo of the Jersey Devil published in a newspaper in 1909.
A photo of the Jersey Devil published in a newspaper in 1909. | Source

Ogopogo - British Columbia

The Ogopogo is a lake demon, similar to the Loch Ness Monster of Scotland, said to inhabit the Okanagan Lake in Canada. Sightings of the sea serpent are reported to date as far back as the 19th century by the First Nations people. It is thought that the Ogopogo may never have been a literal being but rather a legendary water spirit called the N'ha-a-itk of the Okangan Valley Indians. Another theory is that the Ogopogo may be based on a primative whale species such as the Basilosaurus. However since no proof has even been found, it is commonly suggested that sightings are merely just ordinary animals or objects which have been mistaken for something else.

Patasola - South America

The Patasola is a beautiful female vampire-like monster who appears to men in the wilderness, in the form of a woman. This woman will take the image of a loved one and seduce him, luring him away from the group. Only when they are alone together will she drop her disguise and reveal her true form: a one legged creature with bulging eyes, fangs, a hooked nose and tangled hair. The Patasola then devours the flesh or sucks the blood of her victim. There are many different origin stories of La Patasola however they all follow the theme of a "bad" woman, unfaithful and scorned. There are many themes on this myth from Colombia to Mexico.

La Patasola in the deep forests where she lures her victims.
La Patasola in the deep forests where she lures her victims. | Source

Wendigo - Algonquian Tribes

The Wendigo is a half-beast creature of the Algonquian peoples legends, featuring along the Atlantic Coast and Great Lakes Region of the US and Canada. Descriptions of the creature vary however a common theme through all accounts is that they were supernatural beings of great malevolent power. The Wendigo is thought to have been a warning against the act of cannibalism as among the Algonquian peoples, cannibalism was a serious taboo; with the culture viewing suicide as a more humane response to famine. It was said that people who resorted to cannibalism, even to save their lives would become a Wendigo themselves. Once transformed, a human Wendigo would become violent and obsessed with consuming human flesh. An example of this can be found in the video game Until Dawn.

A Wendigo as depicted in the game Until Dawn by Supermassive Games and published by Sony Computer Entertainment
A Wendigo as depicted in the game Until Dawn by Supermassive Games and published by Sony Computer Entertainment | Source
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