Hybrid animals are commonplace in mythology. Not the natural hybrids, like mules and ligers, but a seemingly random collection of animal and human body parts mashed together into a single being that may or may not be intelligent.
The best known of them were handed down from the ancient Greek and Mesopotamian cultures: satyrs, sphinx, lamassu, mermaids, angels, manticore and centaur apparently find their origins there. The list is immense, even without taking into account deities with the head of an animal as known to at least the Egyptian, Hindu and Aztec pantheons.
Very interesting, surely, but…
…where in blazes did humanity come up with this imagery?
We humans love to beat our own drum. We just love to proclaim how smart and resourceful we are. How we’re a unique creation, made in God’s own image. According to Judaism and its derivatives, anyway. Different religions, different opinions, of course.
Philosophies are beautiful, but so are the laws of nature. And those laws state, with irrefutable consistency, that humans are animals. Of the species homo sapiens sapiens, to be precise.
Homo sapiens sapiens, or “the thinking man”, is the last survivor of the otherwise dead human family tree. The first members of the homo family appeared approx. 1 million years ago, but during the last Ice Age, only we and our cousins homo neanderthalensis still existed. All other humanoids had long gone extinct, and at the end of said Ice Age, so had the Neaderthals.
Compare that to sharks, which have been around in abundant varieties for 420 million years.
So not only are humans animals, from a genealogical point of view we’re not even particularly successful.