Garuda

The mythic bird-creature Garuda is often shown attacking Nagas, snakelike creatures with human heads. For over 3,000 years, stories of Garuda have been a part of Hindu culture in India and Southeast Asia. Buddhism emerged 500 years later, and as it spread, so did the story of Garuda. Today, artistic representations of Garuda can be seen from India to Japan, but artists in each culture make Garuda in their own local style.

Physical features: human torso and arms (some have four arms); wings, legs, and clawed feet of a bird; head of a bird, or a human head with beak
Commonly found: Hindu and Buddhist cultures across Asia (China, Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, India, Tibet, Bali)
Cool fact: Some claim a garuda can protect people against snakebites and other poisons.
Cool fact: Garuda is the national symbol of Thailand and Indonesia.

Image credits: main image, AMNH/Sean Murtha; Laurel Kendall: courtesy of AMNH.