The Crocotta, also known as the Corocotta, Crocuta or Yena, is a mythical wolf like creature said to lurk in the forests of India and Ethiopia. The Crocotta was first described by Pliny the Elder in his work Natural History, book VII chapter 30, as the combination of a wolf and a dog with tremendously strong teeth and instant digestion, able to change color and gender at will.
May classicists believe that the source of Pliny the Elder’s description was Greek physician Ctesias’ description of the cynolycus. Other mythologies have described the Crocotta as a gluttonous beast that digs up the buried dead and prowls around farms at night.
It is said that the Crocotta could imitate the sound of a man in distress and used this ability to lure dogs to their deaths. The Crocotta is also rumored to hide at forests edge and listen in on a conversation between two people, usually farmers, upon learning their names the Crocotta would then wait for one of the two people to leave and then call out the name of the unlucky individual who was left along. When the individual went to investigate the Crocotta would slowly back up deeper and deeper into the woods, continuing to call out its victim’s name.
When the individual was deep enough into the woods so that no one would hear his or her screams for help the Crocotta would leap from the shadows and devour its prey. It has also been noted that this ability to mimic human voice was a trait that the Crocotta passed on to its offspring, including the Leucrocotta which resulted from the mating of the Crocotta and a Lion.
There is often some confusion between the more wolf like Crocotta and the more lion like Leucrocotta and in some cases the two creatures are looked upon as the same. Though the two where clearly meant to be two different types of animals, authors of bestiaries often mistook them for one another due to their alleged blood relation, similarity in name and their supposed ability to mimic human speech. Though the Crocotta its self is shrouded in mythology and mystery it has been suggested that the hyena may have been the bases for this legend.
The scientific name for the spotted hyena is Crocuta crocuta, which was taken from the mythological Crocotta, and there are some similarities in their descriptions. Hyenas after all have very powerful teeth and jaws and can digest a wide range of foods. They are also known to dig up human bodies for food and can make unnerving human like vocalizations, such as the well known hyena laugh. Local hyena folklore often suggests that they had the power to switch gender, shape shift and use human speech, all of which has lead many researchers to believe that the hyena may have contributed or even have been the source of the original Crocotta myths.
There is currently no physical evidence to suggest that the Crocotta ever existed.
No documented sightings of the Crocotta could be found at this time.
The Stats – (Where applicable)
• Classification: Hybrid
• Size: Roughly that of a large wolf
• Weight: Roughly that of a large wolf
• Diet: Carnivorous
• Location: India and Ethiopia
• Movement: Four legged walking
• Environment: Forest