Artist's Rendering of Crocotta
|First Sighting||Roman Empire (AD 77–79)|
|Country||Globally Distributed (Traditionally Ethiopia and India)|
|Habitat||Jungles and Rainforests|
The Crocotta (or corocotta, crocuta, leucrocotta, or yena), is a globally distributed mythical dog-wolf originating in India as well as Ethiopia. The crocotta has the body of an extremely large dog, sometimes as large as a mule. Its head resembles that of a hyena and it has cloven hooves, a horse-like mane, and a tail that resembles that of a lion. Its fur ranges in color from orangish-yellow to brownish-black and can include spots or stripes resembling a hyena or tiger. It sometimes is depicted without teeth, but bones used to crush its prey.
Adaptations and Vulnerability
The crocotta has the ability to mimic human speech and uses this power to lure its victims to it, usually by pretending to be someone in trouble. The creature often uses a voice that the victim recognizes and sometimes calls the victim by name or includes other personal information in its cry for help. The crocotta has no unusual vulnerabilities or powers. Although resilient to damage, it can be overcome by conventional weapons.
Crocotta can survive in any type of climate or terrain as long as there is plenty of food available, but are most often found in areas where herd animals like sheep, cattle, or deer are plentiful. They often make their lairs in caves or abandoned buildings. Because they are so rarely encountered in modern-day America, M-Force has not been able to determine very much specific information about the creature’s life-cycle and habits. Crocotta appear to have animal-level intelligence, and their mimicry seem to be similar to that of a parrot. However, their ability to mimic voices known to the victim and in some cases use the victim’s name or other personal information leads researchers to believe that the creatures have some rudimentary form of telepathic ability. While crocotta will and do eat humans, they seem equally satisfied with other forms of meat and do not go to unusual lengths to find human prey.
The crocotta was reported to have appeared more than once in the Roman arena. According to the Augustan History (Pius, X.9), the emperor Antoninus Pius presented a corocotta, probably at his decennalia in AD 148. The historian Cassius Dio (LXXVII.1.3-5) credits the later emperor Septimius Severus with bringing the crocotta to Rome, saying this "Indian species...was then introduced into Rome for the first time, so far as I am aware. It has the color of a lioness and tiger combined, and the general appearance of those animals, as also of a dog and fox, curiously blended." Later bestiaries of the Middle Ages confounded these various accounts, so that one finds the largely mythical creature given differing names and various characteristics, real and imaginary. Among the characteristics not found in the ancient sources was the idea that the eyes of a crocotta were striped gems that could give the possessor oracular powers when placed under the tongue.
" I mean even though it's a mythological creature from India, it had to have at least some form of real life otherwise what would the Hindu's base it on?" ~The GhostMan
Pliny in his work Natural History (VIII.72 and 107) variously described the crocotta as a combination between dog and wolf or between hyena and lion. Of the hyena, Pliny writes that it "is popularly believed to be a hermaphrodite and to become male and female in alternate years, the female bearing offspring without any male," and that "among the shepherds’s homesteads it simulates human speech, and picks up the name of one of them so as to call him to come out of doors and tear him to pieces, and also that it imitates a person being sick, to attract the dogs so that it may attack them; that this animal alone digs up corpses; that a female is seldom caught; that its eyes have a thousand variations of color; moreover that when its shadow falls on dogs they are struck dumb; and that it has certain magic arts by which it causes every animal at which it gazes three times to stand rooted to the spot. When crossed with this race of animals the Ethiopian lioness gives birth to the corocotta, that mimics the voices of men and cattle in a similar way. It has a unbroken ridge of bone in each jaw, forming a continuous tooth without any gum." Pliny (VIII.72-73) also writes of another hyena-like creature, the leucrocotta, which he calls "the swiftest of all beasts, about the size of an ass, with a stag's haunches, a lion's neck, tail and breast, badger's head, cloven hoof, mouth opening right back to the ears, and ridges of bone in place of rows of teeth—this animal is reported to imitate the voices of human beings." The Byzantine scholar Photius, epitomizing an ancient work by the Greek author Ctesias (Indica, L), writes: "In Ethiopia there is an animal called crocottas, vulgarly kynolykos [dog-wolf], of amazing strength. It is said to imitate the human voice, to call men by name at night, and to devour those who approach it. It is as brave as a lion, as swift as a horse, and as strong as a bull. It cannot be overcome by any weapon of steel."
Sightings in US
Crocotta are mentioned in the works of Strabo, Pliny, and other ancient scholars, where they are typically reported as originating in Ethiopia. The creature also appears in a number of medieval bestiaries. Most crocotta sightings in the U.S. have been in western states, especially Texas and Oklahoma.