As the human race emerged from the Middle Ages into the start of modernity, we learned more about the world around us. We also took some wild flights of fancy, however. The humanoid creatures we imagined living around us were bizarre, and in some cases horrifying. See the most disturbing creatures of the early modern age for yourself.


Warning: Some of these pictures may be NSFW!

A Cyclops, a Blemmyai (headless monsters with faces on their chests), a Sciopod (a one-legged creature who used its feet to shade itself from the sun) and a Cynocephalus (a dog-headed man), an unknown two-headed Pygmie, all living in India, from Cosmographia, a history of the world written by Sebastian Münster, 1544

(via Columbia University)

A three-headed monster, also from Cosmographia, by Sebastian Münster, 1544

(via Tablespace)

The giant-eared Panotti, from the Nuremberg Chronicle, written by Hartmann Schedel in Latin, translated to German by Georg Alt, 1493

According to Pliny the Elder these race of people live in the All-Ears Islands off of Scythia and using their large ears as blankets in the night.


(via kamelopedia)

Bird neck and beak, also from the Nuremberg Chronicle, 1493

(via Morse Library/Benoit College)

The Sea Bishop or Bishop-fish and the Sea Monk, reported in the 1530s and 1540s

Once an angry bishop fish could find the location of the seamans' daughter on a boat, warp her to his lair, absorb her energy and send the dead body back.

One of these cryptids was caught and taken to the King of Poland and shown to some Catholic bishops. These bishops granted to the fish to be released, then it made the sign of cross and disappeared. Another one was found off the coast of Zealand, Denmark in 1546.

(via Cryptid Wiki, Mgiganteus1 and The Book of Days: A Miscellany of Popular Antiquities, by Robert Chambers/Google Books, p. 311)

Histoires prodigieuses, by Pierre Boaistuau, first published in 1560, Paris

(via Wellcome Library and Melbourne Prints)

A cyclops from Historie Naturelle, by Georges Louis Leclerc Buffon, 1799

(via Internet Archive)

Creatures from Monstrorum historia, by Ulisse Aldrovandi, 1642

(via Universitätsbibliothek Salzburg, Paul K and Curious History)

The 1665 edition of De Monstris, written by Fortunio Liceti, originally published without illustrations in 1616

(via Internet Archive)