Pegasus -  ( Image compiled by Dr. Blog )

No one can argue that lions and tigers are impressive creatures. If people were still running around naked in the jungle I imagine they would be plenty terrifying enough. However, we haven't lived in the jungle for a long time. There are plenty of murals from very ancient days suggesting that lion hunts were common even then. While there may be some visceral terror when you are in the presence of such a beast, it is hard to impress most folk with tales of them.

Probably in an effort to overcome this apathy, wandering minstrels invented incredible monsters. Animals of colossal size, odd composition, incredible power or mysterious habitat were born and became part of our collective culture. Most of them, or at least most of the horrible events attributed to them are probably entirely fictitious.

Basilisk/Gorgons

These two creatures are lumped together simply because their primary danger involves vision. If you look at a Gorgon, you turn to stone. (That’s a nice way of saying that you die. In an aesthetically pleasing way perhaps, but you still die.) Our studies indicate that this effect is transmissible even via broadcast and recording media. (Let your imaginations run wild with that one.) By contrast, you can look at a Basilisk all you want and you’ll be fine. However, if it looks at you , even your back, you die. Not just you, plants, animals, birds. Everything. Luckily it has to look right at you, not at an image of you. Gorgons usually appear as really ugly women with snakes for hair. We can only assume that this was the trick of some truly gifted geneticist in the ancient world. Basilisks, and this is just plain wacky, are the result of snake-chicken interbreeding and look like a rooster with a snake’s head and tail. Guns and the like seem to work just fine on these creatures. Mirrors do not. However, one handy way to deal with an basilisk is a cock’s crow. Apparently this sound kills them. We don’t know why but we’ve duplicated the effect with several other sounds as well. Mariah Carey’s crooning seems to be equally lethal, so don’t forget a portable stereo when you travel.

Centaurs

Big horse people who hang out in the woods and in mountains. Shoot them. Or interrogate them about herbal medicine and then shoot them.

Doppelgangers

I am not at all sure what these things are. Some stories indicate that they are spirits that inhabit your shadow (don’t ask) and can animate it. This version tends to paint the spirits as benevolent entities that want to help their host. Other stories tell of changelings that become the physical double of some individual immediately prior to slaying that individual and assuming their identity. Some versions indicate that they duplicate their targets memories as well, and may even forget that they aren’t the person they slew. In general, there isn’t much you can do about these things since they do in fact become whomever they kill. Just general personal security is probably best here. Oh, if you do figure out who is a doppelganger, they die just like the regular person they are mimicking.

Dragons

These are everyone’s favorite fantastic animal. Some have feathers, some scales. Some fly, others swim. Some speak, others just eat maidens, some speak and eat maidens. Some cast spells, others have pearls, others have their own religions. Some breathe fire, others hang out in pits of fire. Some have many heads, others don’t even have legs. Basically, any variant on the theme works. We couldn’t really define that theme, but everyone pretty much knows what it is. The days of dragons terrorizing villages is pretty much over. Occasionally you will find one hanging out in the bottom of a well, or maybe in a cloud city, but that’s about it. Kind of sad, but think of all the primary consumers a giant firebreathing lizard would have to eat? Just not energy efficient. People used to hunt these things with arrows so you’re pretty much okay with the tools of modern warfare - at least for the mundane varieties. For the ancient dragons that ruled entire human cultures? Well, chances are you aren’t going to be able to do much to hurt them before they’re flossing you from between their teeth. Don’t worry too much though, they seem to have become bored with human culture (what with the recent proliferation of boy bands we can’t really blame them) and you don’t see them much these days.

Mermaids

Again, two versions. One tells us of a race of beautiful humans with fins for legs. Another tells us of sea monsters that look like people and that want to lure sailors into the water in order to eat them. The bottom line is that no normal girl should be floating in the middle of the ocean. Fish one out if you’re curious but don’t jump in after one. You’ll never be able to bring her home to mom anyway. (Hmmm, might be able to take mom to an aquarium though.)

Sphinxes

While these have probably been hunted to extinction, it is possible that some still survive in the deepest deserts. These beasts are horrifying fusions of a man or woman’s torso and head with the body of a winged lion. While their wings do not appear capable of flight they allow the creatures to leap farther than a normal lion. They seem to like to dine on human flesh, and enjoy playing with their prey before a meal. The most famous of the species liked riddles; but, rumor has it that crosswords and even the odd game of scrabble or monopoly are becoming very popular. Unfortunately for the sphinx, claws and teeth just don’t cut it in the global arena any longer. Brush up on your gaming skills (they seem to have some sort of suicide mechanism that terminates them if they are beaten) or just carry a big gun.

Unicorns/Pegasus

Pegasus was a winged horse. Apparently one of a sacred herd. Like all horses it wasn’t very bright. Perhaps not smart enough to realize that it simply must have weighed too much to be able to fly. Then again, maybe it possessed some mysterious buoyancy mechanism. As of yet we have not acquired a live or fossilized specimen for study. No real reason to kill these, but if you wanted to a gun would probably do the trick. Unicorns are a whole different ballgame. In fact, they may be some kind of woodland spirit that merely takes the form of a horned white horse. Furthermore, this horn is only visible to a pure maiden. Our theory is that unicorns may be as abundant as ever, just that the number of pure maidens has declined precipitously. Unicorns don’t seem to trouble anyone other than people who “harm the forest.” We don’t really know what that means but we imagine that our clearcutting, uranium dumping and mutant deer hunting probably qualify. We aren’t exactly sure what harm a smart horse with a horn could do to our sport utility vehicle, but imagine that a hand grenade should prevent the issue from ever arising. Still, it would be academically interesting to see if one could see the damage the horn caused even if you couldn’t see the horn.

Yeti

Basically a big bear that lives in inaccessible places. True Yetis hang out in the Himalayas but a similar creature inhabits North America under the moniker of “Bigfoot.” Although some have attributed a primate like intelligence to these things, none of our specimens seems to be much brighter than a toadstool. The danger factor is also in dispute. Clearly Bigfoot isn’t much of a threat as millions of tourists stomp through its habitat every year, many actually looking for it, and so far not one as gotten torn limb from bloody limb. Pretty pathetic for a nine to twelve foot tall bear monster, if you ask us. Yetis are a different story. With the number of morons who die every year in the Himalayas, it’s hard to tell which ones just freeze and which ones get eaten. In general you are probably safe if you have a big gun. The things are not noted for their stealth so just shoot anything with a dark silhouette. Worst case scenario you kill some crunchy backpacker by mistake.