In Japan, a frightening water creature called the kappa was long known for pulling children underwater and drowning them. Tales of this small but mighty creature were often used to teach Japanese children to be careful when swimming in rivers and ponds. As Japanese society has changed over the centuries, so has the kappa. Today, Japanese children are more familiar with the cute, friendly kappa that appears in toys, movies, and books.

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