The Ophiotaurus is half bull (taurus) and half serpent (ophio). Next to the hippocampi, this is one of my mermaid’s favorite mythological sea creatures.
In Greek mythology, the creature was created in the chaos with Gaea and Ouranos and killed by the Titans. Its entrails (ewwwww, gross) granted the power to defeat the gods to the person who sacrificed the guts in fire. Zeus’s eagle snatched up the innards, which the gods put in the combined constellation of Taurus and Cetus to keep those deadly-to-the-gods bits from being used against them.
My favorite retelling of the Ophiotaurus is the one by Rick Riordan in The Titan’s Curse. Mockingbird and I read the entire first series of Percy Jackson together, and we’re getting ready to read it with Armadillo. (Seriously, this is one of my most favorite series to read aloud with my kids!)
In this book, Percy rescues the Ophiotaurus from a net and names it Bessie, because the creature is obviously an adorable cowfish. ahem. Bessie follows Percy everywhere, because he thinks the demigod is his protector.
To see a picture of a Greek mosaic, go here. Even though it said it is under Creative Commons license, I didn’t want to take a chance with copyright.
Do you have a favorite fish-tail animal? I mean, besides mermaids… 😀