In fiction, writers have a nearly limitless canvas of possibility to work with, the concepts only limited by personal preference. Thus over time, we have seen countless different abstractions of the world and what lives in it. Today though, we will be focusing on a specific topic, that of hybrids. What if this creature had wings? Or a tail? Or fangs and claws? These ideas lead to the version of hybrids we find in fiction!
The Origins of Hybrids
By definition, the word hybrid has two versions, a noun and an adjective. The noun hybrid refers to the offspring of two different species and varieties, where the adjective describes the action of their creation or the fact that it is a mix of two or more elements.
Creatures such as mermaids, griffins, and centaurs are all hybrids as well but do not necessarily result from the combination of the races they present. A Griffin, in particular, is a creature mentioned in many different mythologies.
These hybrid’s distinctive features include the back half of a lion and the front half of an eagle. While there are many different stories featuring griffins, the origin is a bit murky. Sometimes these creatures are envisioned by artists as a subject for their works and, as such, are a hybrid by concept, not necessarily by direct birth.
An example of a hybrid by birth would be that of the centaurs, though it is not quite as straightforward as one might think. The origin of centaurs comes from Greek mythology and the human king Ixion. In one depiction of the myth, Ixion was in love with Zeus’ wife, Hera, and to prove it, Zeus sent a cloud to seduce the king. This cloud, named Nephele, became pregnant with the first of the centaurs. Obviously, that conception is a bit unusual in terms of genetics, though not so outlandish when referring to the wild ride that is Greek Mythology.
That being said, the other versions of the myth do include what might be considered a more direct lineage, which is between a horse and man. However, even that is not as simple, as the horse depicted in other versions of the myth was Zeus himself transformed into a horse. No matter what version is used, the result in all of them is that of the half-human, half-horse hybrid known as a centaur. Now let’s move to a modern version of hybrids.
Modern Depictions: Renesmee and Bo
Let’s look at some examples in both books and television. We’ll start with Renesmee from Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series. At the time of Renesmee’s birth, Bella was still human, thus causing Renesmee to be a hybrid offspring of a human and a vampire. The interesting result of this leads them to discover that not only will she grow until she’s at her physical prime and stop, but also that she can live off of human food and blood. Renesmee is a hybrid child of two races and an example of how the combination can be different than the originals.
Renesmee is also not the only hybrid in the series. In Breaking Dawn Part 2, the family spreads out across the world in search of other hybrids like Renesmee. While they are very elusive, the family manages to track down at least one by the name of Nahuel. Nahuel has the appearance of a young man in his early twenties but informs the other vampires that he is over 150 years old. This gives the Cullens a glimpse into Renesmee’s future when he reveals that he continued growing rapidly until, at seven years old, he looked as he does now. Though they are not as fast as the other vampires, they do carry the ability to transform others into vampires, and they can better blend in with humans as they carry many human traits.
Another example is that of Bo from the series Lost Girl. At the beginning of the series, Bo believes that she is a hybrid child of a succubus and a human; however, later in the series, that is revealed not to be the case. Bo is definitely a hybrid, but this time human is not a part of the recipe. Lost Girl is about Bo joining the world of the Fae after having been raised by humans and finding out more about herself in the process.
Throughout the series, Bo steadily grows stronger and eventually finds out that her mother is a succubus and her father is an ancient fae. In this series, the ancient fae pre-date any known fae and are far stronger, some even holding a power level kin to that of a god. As the resulting hybrid, Bo is shown to be one of if not the most powerful fae in the series, second perhaps only to her father.
Both Bo and Renesmee inherit aspects of both species that they come from, thus causing them to be hybrids. Now as we said before, though, that is not the only way hybrids can be conceived, at least in terms of fiction.
In order to find more hybrid inspiration, one does not have to look too far. For example, did you know that a mule is a hybrid and a liger? This is just one real-life example that exists in nature today!
As mentioned previously, the idea of adding features of one race or creature to another is enough to result in a hybrid. Thus the creation of hybrids has been done many times throughout history. Most, if not all, mythologies have at least one example, and this can easily be seen in books such as Monsters and Mythical Creatures from Around the World or The Compendium of Magical Beasts: An Anatomical Study of Cryptozoology’s Most Elusive Beings. These are only a couple of examples of reference material that can be used to gain inspiration for the concept of hybrids!
What are your favorite hybrids? Want to hear some more facts and terms from supernatural fiction? Check out our other amazing articles here on Bookstr!