Creatures

Anteater-sloth

Habitat: Sun Warrior Island.

Description: Anteater-sloths are roughly human-sized animals with elongated heads and long skinny tongues like anteaters, with medium-sized bodies and legs ending in claws like sloths. They have only been seen in the Fire Nation island where the Sun Warrior civilization still thrives in secret, and they appear to enjoy the taste of green glue.

Real World: Anteaters are mammal species in the suborder Vermilingua which are known for eating ants and termites. They can be as big as eight feet in length (minus the tail) and four feet in height at the shoulder. The anteater has a long thin head and a long flexible tongue, which is covered in sticky saliva, which the anteater flicks very rapidly to sweep up insects into its mouth.

Sloths are medium-sized mammals that live in trees, usually hanging upside-down from branches, in the rainforests of Central and South America. They have very slow metabolisms and as such move very slowly. They eat mostly leaves but some species have been known to sometimes eat insects, small reptiles and even birds.

Armadillo Lion

Habitat: The zoo in Ba-Sing-Se.

Description: This large animal has the body and head of a lion. The fur on its feet and lower part of its face is white. Its main trunk and the upper parts of its legs are covered by shaggy brown hair. Its back is topped by an armadillo-like segmented carpace, which extends to cover the top of its head. It has an armadillo-like hairless tail. When startled, the armadillo lion can curl up into an armored ball, much like the three-banded armadillo.

Real World: Armadillos are small insectivorous mammals native to the Americas. The armadillo's armor is composed of dermal bones, covered by horny plates on the outer surface. It consists of a broad shield over the shoulders, extending to cover the top of the head, and another shield over the pelvis, the two shields are connected by a number (a different number in different species) of half rings (or 'bands') over the middle and back, giving the armor a measure of flexibility.

There are some 20 extant species, the largest of which, the Giant Armadillo, is about the size of a pig. The most wiely dispersed species, and the only on native to the US, is the Nine-Banded Armadillo. The Three-Banded armadillo is the only armadillo that can curl entirely into a ball. Other armadillos escape predators by darting for cover. Armadillos are solitary and nocturnal, and found in various habitat. They have poor vision but have an excellent sense of smell. They are formidabble diggers, and use their strong front claws to excavate grubs and worms, and dig dens for themselves.

The african lion (panthera leo), is the world's second largest cat. It has a tawny coat with a white underbody, and long tail with a black tuft at the end. The males have large manes and are generally larger than the females.

Lions live in prides, groups consisting of several related females, their young, plus one or several dominant males. Some lions are solitary nomads. The females of the pride do most of the hunting, often working as a group.

Lions prefer a savannah habitat with a large prey base: animals most often preyed on are zebras, wildebeest, gazelles, buffalos, warthogs, hartebeests and topis. In antiquity lions ranged all over Africa and much of Eurasia. Today wild lions survive maily in central Africa. The Asiatic subspecies survives only in Sasan-Gir National Park in Northern India.

Badger Mole

Habitat: The Cave of Two Lovers tunnel leading to Omashu.

Description: An enormous mammal, the badger mole has the shovel-shaped claws and long tail associated with the mole and a badger-like body. It has brown fur, a white face, and a white stripe running down its back. The badger mole seems to be the natural predator of the wolfbats and is able to earthbend by slamming its paws into the ground and motioning with its stance to move the dirt around. It also seems to enjoy music and becomes tranquil when it hears music playing.

Real World: The badger mole resembles a cross between the American badger and the common mole. The American badger is carnivorous and is closely related to ferrets and weasels. The facial coloring and white back stripe of the Avatar animal resembles the badger whereas its claws and tail are indicative of the mole's. Given this combination of burrowing animals, it's no surprise that the badger mole can easily carve through rock with its claws and earthbending skills.

Badgerfrog

Habitat: This furry, hopping animal was seen in the woods near the Western Air temple

Description: Looks like a large toad with patches of fur on its body. Appears to be a good listener till it hops away. At first look, the badgerfrog seems cute and harmless, but if cornered by a predator, it will defend itself by hopping, clawing, and biting angrily. Badgerfrogs have been found to be strangely attracted to earnest monologues delivered by weary travelers who stop to camp in their habitat.

Real World: Toad refers to a number of species of amphibians. A distinction is often made between frogs and toads by their appearance, prompted by the convergent adaptation among so-called toads to dry environments. For instance, toads often have leathery skin for better water retention, and a brown coloration for camouflage.

Typical badgers (Meles, Arctonyx, Taxidea and Mellivora species) are short-legged and heavy-set. The lower jaw is articulated to the upper by means of a transverse condyle firmly locked into a long cavity of the cranium, so that dislocation of the jaw is all but impossible. This enables the badger to maintain its hold with the utmost tenacity, but limits the jaw movement to hinging open and shut or sliding from side to side.

Bear

Habitat: The Earth-King's party in Ba-Sing-Se.

Description: "Bosco", as he was named by the Earth King, is a large brown bear, very similar to the Grizzly bear of North America. At the party, he is dressed in an Earth Kingdom style yellow jacket and a green hat.

Real World: There are several species of the Brown Bear (Ursus arctos) distributed over North America and Eurasia. These include the the Grizzly bear, Kodiac bear, The Mexican Bear, the Siberian Brown Bear, and several others. The largest among these rival the Polar Bear for the title of the world's largest extant land carnivore.

North America's Grizzly Bears (Ursus arctos horribilis) vary in lenght, snout-to tail, from 1 to 2.8 meters (3.28 to 9.18 ft), and they vary in weight from 80 to over 600kg (176 to 1320 lbs). They can tower at up to 8 feet when they rear up on their hind legs. The largest members of the species occur on the southern Alaskan coast. Fur colors vary from light brown to near black, with brown being the most common color. The supspecies name derives from the gray (grizzled) tips of the guard hairs of their heavy fur coat.

Brown Bears have incredible strength and stamina. They are omnivorous, eating many plants, fish, insects and small mammals. The larger members of the species are expert hunters who prey on elk, moose, and mountain sheep. Brown Bears begin hibernating between October and December, depending on environment and latitude, and resume activity around March-May.

Brown Bears depend on a densely wooded environment where they can find shelter during the day, and their habitat is increasingly encroached on by humans. Many populations are now endangered. Although they are considered the most dangerous animal in North America, Brown Bears generally avoid contact with humans and will not attack unless cornered or disturbed in their search for food.

Blue Jay

Habitat: On Aang's head at their campsite in "The Chase", and in a tree outside of the kid's assigned house in the upper ring of Ba-sing-Se.

Description: This bird is primarily blue, with a white stomach and long tail feathers. There are stripes of darker blue and white on its wings and tail; it's blue head is separated from its white underbelly by a dark blue band of feathers.

Real World: It would appear that this bird is a plain blue jay, a bird common in the eastern portion of North America; the coloring is similar. The Avatar bird is much bigger, though, and the shape of its body more closely resembles that of a pigeon or a dove.

Boar-q-pine

Habitat: Large forests in the Earth Kingdom.

Description: This animal is enormous, almost as large as Appa. It has the body and general appearance of a boar, except that its body is covered in quills like a porcupine. It has a large head compared to the rest of its body, and from it emerge emerge a pair of sharp, white tusks. However, in youth, these creatures resemble their porcupine half more, being small in size, not much bigger than a hand, and also appearing more rodent-like rather than like a large boar. They also appear to be much more docile, which is to be expected with young creatures.

Real World: Boars are the same species as pigs (sus scrofa). Pigs are omnivorous, undulate mammals native to Eurasia. They have an excellent sense of smell and consequently are very adept at foraging. Humans domesticated pigs between 5,000 and 7,000 years ago and have since brought them to every continent on earth.

Porcupines are rodents that live on almost every continent and which can survive in a wide variety of habitats. They are distinguished by their extensive coat of quills that protect them from predators. Usually the quills, or spines, lie flat on the animal's back. When threated the porcupine flexs them into an upright position to ward off the predator. Most porcupine species grow to about raccoon size when they reach adulthood, though some New World species are much smaller, and they are vegetarians feeding on roots, tubers and fruits.

Buffalo Deer

Habitat: Draft animal seen in the Northern Water Tribe City.

Description: The buffalo deer is a domesticated, reindeer like creature that is large enough to be ridden by a human. Each of its muscular legs ends in hooves and its head is crowned with a pair of horns that emerge sideways from its forehead and then curve backward. The creature's body ends in a small, furry tail. It's shaggy fur or hair is gray on its back and white in a patch around its eyes, on its neck, and underbelly. This fur flares out around its feet in a "bell bottom" type fashion.

Real World: The horns of this creature suggest a link to the real life water buffalo or perhaps the wildebeest. The water buffalo is a large bovine mammal that is native to Asia and northern Australia, though it is now present on every continent due to domestication by humans. The most striking feature of the males of this species is the large pair of horns that emerge sideways from its forehead and then curve backward. The wildebeest, native to southern Africa, has a similar horn structure to the water buffalo, but it is considerably smaller than the water buffalo, whose adults of both sexes usually weigh excess of one ton.

Reindeer are large, ungulate omnivores that are native to the northern polar regions of North America and Eurasia. They have four stomachs and eat lichens, moss and small animals such as mice and lemmings. Both sexes grow large antlers. Reindeer have two coats of fur to protect them from the harsh cold of their environment.

Lastly, the buffalo deer's "bell bottomed" feet suggest a connection to the Clydesdale horse. This large species of horse was first bred in Scotland and was used largely for farm work until the advent of modern agricultural methods. This animal is distinguished not only for its size, but for the "bell bottoms" of hair, called feathers, around its feet.

Bull Antelope

Habitat: The zoo in Ba Sing Se.

Description: These ungulates have the stocky bodies of domestic bulls, Their bodies are very muscular and their heads are bovine-esque. They resemble antelopes such as the bontebok or the springbok in color pattern and horn shape. Their upper parts are light brown, their enderparts and their legs below the knee are cream colored. A border of dark brown marks the transition areas around their knees and their bellies. One dark stripe extends from under each eye towards the muzzle, with a third stipe in the middle. A dark stripe extends down their underside from under their chin. Their long black horns are only slightly curved.

Real World: The coloration pattern of these bovines somewhat resembles antelopes like the bontebok, or the smaller, gazelle-like springbok. Both species found in game preserves in Southwestern Africa.
In body and head shape, the antelope bull resembles domestic cattle Bos taurus. Domestic cattle are among the world's most numerous mammals, there are some 1.3 billion domestic cattle alive today. Members of the genus bos can currently found in Africa, Asia, eastern Europe and North America. Their habitats vary greatly depending on the particular species; they can be found in prairies, rain forests, wetlands, savannas and temperate forests. Most species travel in herds ranging in size from 10 members into the hundreds.

They are generally diurnal, resting in the hot part of the day and grazing morning and afternoon. Some species are also migratory, moving with food and water availability. Cattle are ruminants, having a four-chambered stomach containing symbiotic bacteris that break down the cellulose in the vegetation they consume.

Butterfly

Habitat: Near Haru's village

Description: This is a small insect with large, attractive wings and small antennae. The wings are colored bright yellow with an orange interior.

Real World: Members of the order Lepidoptera, butterflies are flying insects that have upwards of 20,000 distinct species. Many of these have wings with vivid colors or patterns that distinguish their breed. Due to the sheer number of species, however, it is impossible to make a connection between the butterfly seen in the show and a specific real life breed.

Buzzard Wasp

Habitat: The Si Wong desert.

Description: These hideous creatures are four legged insects that have a bird like head and a bee or wasp like body. They are brown in color except for their beaks, a collar of greyish fur around their neck and grey or white stripes on their abdomens. They have wings attached to their midsections and are capable of flight.

Real World: Buzzard wasps seem to be a combination of a vulture and a wasp. Vultures are large scavenger birds that are distinguised by their bald heads. These birds live on every continent except Antarctica. In popular culture vultures represent death and are often depicted as circling over the heads of those fated soon to die.

Wasps comprise most of the members of the order Hymenoptera. Unlike bees, these insects have almost no hair, have two pairs of wings and almost invariably sting. Given the wide array of wasp species, it is difficult to tell which of these is most related to the Buzzard Wasp.

Canyon Crawler

Habitat: The Great Divide Canyon

Description: The canyon crawler is a monstrous, agile creature with four long, insect-like legs and a long snout filled with razor sharp teeth. It has a total of sixteen eyes, eight on each side of its face, and the rest of its body is covered in brown fur. It apparently has a very keen sense of smell and is attracted by the scent of food, even from some distance away. Canyon crawlers are very dangerous animals, even more so when they swarm as a group upon one target.

Real World: The creatures seem to be based off real life ants. Their body structure is somewhat similar to an ant's, with the long insect-like legs connecting only to the center of the body as an ant's legs connect to its thorax. In addition to its appearance, the canyon crawler is also like an ant in behavior. Ant scouts are able to find and lead others from their colony to potential food sources, using landmarks and phermone trails to relocate the position of the edibles until the supply runs out.

Cat (Bearded)

Habitat: Earth Kingdom city of Omashu.

Description: This is a small, four legged animal with oversized ears. Mostly feline in appearance, it has short hair and a tail. Its fur is light brown, except for a "Y" patch of dark brown that covers the bridge of its nose and its eyebrows.

The bearded cat, does, however, have a few features that set it apart from cats. The irises of its eyes are not convex like a cat's, but circular. Most striking is its long, white beard and mustache.

Real World: The inspiration for the bearded cat seems to be the domestic cat or house cat. The bearded cat is presumed to be domesticated as well since it has been seen so far only in a city environment. The domestic cat is a small, furry four legged mammal of the felidae family. The many different breeds of domestic cat make it nearly impossible to make a direct correlation with the bearded cat seen in Omashu.

Cat Gator

Habitat: The waterways of the Earth Kingdom swamp.

Description: The cat gator is a large green reptile that is about seven or eight feet long from snout to tail. It is a squatty, short creature and moves with its body close to the ground. Its back is lined with ridges and it has a flat head with barbel whiskers coming from the snout. The cat gator's mouth itself is lined with sharp teeth and its tail has a small fin at the end.

Real World: The cat gator appears to be a clean cross between a catfish and an alligator, and exhibits physical characteristics from both of these animals.

Catfish are freshwater fish and are named for their barbel whiskers that give the fish a cat-like appearance. A defense mechanism allows these whiskers to harden if the fish is attacked or eaten. Catfish have rubbery skin rather than scales, a trait that the cat gator apparently shares. The species of catfish that the cat gator physically resembles most is the channel catfish, which is widespread in most rivers and lakes; the snout and tail in particular are much closer to that of this particular type of catfish than to those of the alligator.

The alligator is a large reptile and also lives in many freshwater environments such as marshes, wetlands, and swamps. The alligator is at home both on land and in the water. The shape of the cat gator's long body resembles that of the alligator very closely, and its behavior in the water is also reminiscent of the alligator's method of catching prey (for example, floating motionless as to resemble a log and then lunging up out of the water to bite unsuspecting animals that come too close).

Cat Owl

Habitat: A pet shop in Ba-Sing-Se and the woods of the Fire Nation.

Description: A cat-owls has the head of a cat, plus the wings and tail of an owl. It'd head, torso and claws are covered in fur, which is dark slate gray on its dorsal parts, and creamy white on its ventral parts. The feathers of its wings and tail are also dark slate-gray. Its eyes are green.

Real World: The cat-owl has the head and fur of a cat. It is believed that house cats (Felis silvestris catus) are descended from the population of wild cat, (Felis silvestris) that inhabits North Africa and the Middle East, and were first domesticated in ancient Egypt. Cats could soon became the most common house-hold pet world wide.

The cat owl also seems to have a connection to the Great Horned Owl in body dimensions and wing shape. The Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) ranges through North America and Central south America. Color variations include reddish brown, grey, or black and white. The underside is a light grey with dark bars and a white band of feathers on the upper breast. They have large, staring yellow-orange eyes, in most variants these are bordered by an orange disc of feathers.

These birds are also sometimes called Hoot Owls, Cat Owls or Winged Tigers. The so-called 'horns' or 'ears' are merely feathered tufts and have no connection to the birds ears. Like most owls, this species is nocturnal. Their preferred prey are rabbits and hares, but they also hunt a great variety of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and arthropods. Great Horned Owls can prey on animals two or three times heavier than they are. Their hunting methods include perching at high vantage points and watching for prey, or flying slowly and silently just above the ground. They kill their prey by then swooping down on it and grasping it in their talons.

Cave-hopper

Habitat: Coastal caves in the Fire Nation islands.

Description: These are small, white, grasshopper-like creatures that live in dark caves in the Fire Nation. They have long antennae, two short front legs and two larger hind legs, ending in four-digit semi-webbed feet with toe-pads. According to Nick.com, they feed on "algae and other cave vegetation", and their natural predators are the Toucan-puffins.

Real World: Cave-hoppers seem to be based on grasshoppers, with the difference that real-life grasshoppers have six legs, wings (only on adult individuals) and short antennae. Grasshoppers are herbivorous insects whose large hind legs are adapted for leaping, and they are generally brown in color, though some species are green. Some species of grasshoppers make loud noises by rubbing their hind legs against their wings or abdomen. Grasshoppers start their lives as eggs that then hatch into nymphs. These are very similar in appearance to adult grasshoppers, but lacking wings and reproductive organs. Upon molting, the nymph turns into an adult, which can grow to be 1 to 5 inches long. Being herbivorous, grasshoppers feed on a variety of plants, though some species prefer only grasses. Their natural predators include birds, lizards, spiders and rodents.

Chicken Pig

Habitat: Gansu and Sela's farm in "Zuko Alone"

Description: The chicken pig has the head a pig, but the feet, body and tail of a rooster.

Real World: Pigs are omnivorous, undulate mammals native to Eurasia. They have an excellent sense of smell and consequently are very adept at foraging. Humans domesticated pigs between 5,000 and 7,000 years ago and have since brought them to every continent on earth.

Chickens are the most common bird the world due to domestication and commercial farming. They are omnivores that eat grains, grasses, insects and anything else that is edible. Female chickens are referred to as "hens", males as "roosters". The males typically have brighter plumage than the females and exhibit a fleshy crest on their heads called a "comb".

Clam

Habitat: Village of Jang Hui.

Description: These bivalved mollusks are brownish/greenish in color and have what appear to be blisters on their shells. They can be found in the bottom of the Jang Hui river, and according to Nick.com, "are filled with all sorts of disgusting items including dirt, seaweed, and dead bugs." Regardless of this, they are still sold as food.

Real World: Clams are bivalved mollusks, which are invertebrate animals whose bodies are protected by two symmetrical shells. Clams have no brain or eyes, but do have kidneys, heart, mouth and anus. They eat plankton, and their natural predators are small sharks and squid.

Cow Hippo

Habitat: Fire Nation Bazaar

Description: A very large, meat-eating domesticated animal, it's mostly white with irregular black spots on its skin, small horns and floppy ears. It has the head of a hippopotamus and the body of a cow, with short, stubby legs that end in hoofs.

Real World: The hippopotamus is a large, herbivorous, semi-aquatic African mammal. It is recognizable by it's barrel-shaped, hairless body, stubby legs and large size. They are some of the largest mammals in the world, with average adult weights between 3000 and 4000 pounds, and average dimensions of 11 feet long and 5 feet tall at the shoulder. Despite their bulk, hippopotami can run faster than a human, and are able to reach speeds up to 25-30 miles per hour.

Cattle are bovine mammals native to Africa and Eurasia. Like sheep, they have multiple stomachs that allow them to digest very tough plant material. Females are referred to as "cows" or "heifers", males as "bulls". Adult males have horns of varying size. They are also social animals that live in herds. Cattle were domesticated by man in the early Neolithic Age some seven or eight thousand years ago.

Cow Pig

Habitat: Gansu and Sela's farm in "Zuko Alone"

Description: The cow pig has the head and body shape of a pig, but has horns like a bull.

Real World: Pigs are omnivorous, undulate mammals native to Eurasia. They have an excellent sense of smell and consequently are very adept at foraging. Humans domesticated pigs between 5,000 and 7,000 years ago and have since brought them to every continent on earth.

Cattle are bovine mammals native to Africa and Eurasia. Like sheep, they have multiple stomachs that allow them to digest very tough plant material. Females are referred to as "cows" or "heifers", males as "bulls". Adult males have horns of varying size. They are also social animals that live in herds. Cattle were domesticated by man in the early Neolithic Age some seven or eight thousand years ago.

Dragon

Habitat: In a brief vision just outside Hei-Bai's forest in "The Spirit World: Winter Solstice Part I," Aang sees Avatar Roku's dragon as it was when it was alive. The dragon was Roku's animal guide, just as Appa is Aang's.

Description: Dragons are horned reptiles with long, scaly bodies that end in a thin tail. It has four short legs and very large wings that enable it to fly quickly over great distances. The dragon's head is large compared to the rest of its body. Its bearded face is dominated by a wide, flat nose and golden, cat-like eyes. The audience mostly sees the dragon in spirit form, so it's difficult to tell whether the telepathic capabilities it exhibited were with it when it was living in the material world.

Real World: Dragons are fictional creatures and so have no direct real world connections to existing animals. Myth holds them to be giant reptiles or serpents with various spiritual or magical qualities. The dragon seen in Avatar seems to be an adaptation of the Chinese concept of the dragon, more snake-like in appearance than their stocky European counterparts. The Chinese tend to view them as creatures of wisdom, good luck, and fortune rather than malevolent bringers of destruction.

Dragon Fly

Habitat: The zoo in Ba Sing Se.

Description: Bearing some resemblance to Chinese dragons, the dragon flies have elongated, lizard-like bodies. They can fly or hover vertically via the two pairs of dragonfly-like wings attached to their shoulders. Their upper parts are dusky green, their nape areas are decorated with three spines with dark green tips. Their faces are dark green, with a a lighter green band extending form under each eye, meeting and flaring over the nostrils. Their eyes are yellow. They have no external ears. The scutes on their underparts are creamy mint green. After being freed form their cages, the dragon-flies hovered above Ba Sing Se passerbys and harassed them. They were also seen perched on rooftops, balancing on their lower limbs.

Real World: Dragon flies have wings very similar to those of real-world dragonflies. Dragonflies are large insects belonging to the order odontata. Expert aeronauts, dragonflies have long elongated abdomens, large multifaceted eyes, and two pair of strong transparent wings. Dragon flies eat flies, migdes, mosquitos, and other small insects. They're seldom found far from a body of water, as their larvae are aquatic.

The dragon flies have lizard-like bodies, most closely resembling those of wall-lizards and skinks. Wall-lizards, also called true lizards, are native to Africa and Eurasia. These small lizards are characterized by long slender bodies and small legs, small smooth scales in varying patterns and colors. Most species are insectivorous. They thrive in urban settings where they shelter in building crevices.

The skink family(scincidae) is the lizard family with the most members. Some skinks have very short legs some species have no legs at all. The small legs are used mostly for crawling. When moving quickly, many species lay them by their side and propel themselves by undulating their bodies side-to-side.

Dragon Moose

Habitat: Fire-Fountain City

Description: A carriage-pulling quadruped, about the size and build of a moose. Its head is crowned with a pair of long, backwards-curving bifurcated horns, and its neck and shoulders sport a dark mane. Its 'dragonness' is indicated by its bat-wing like ears, the long barbels at the corners of its mouth, and the row of dorsal spines extending from its nape to the tufty tip of its tail.

Real World: The dragon moose is based on the mythical dragon, and the largest members of the deer family, known in America as the moose (The same animal occurs in the northern parts of Eurasia, but there it is called an elk. In America, that term is applied to the second largest member of the deer family). Apart from their size and long, heavy heads, moose are distinguished from other members of the deer family by the wide palmate antlers possessed by the males of the species. These antlers are shed and re-grown annually.

Dragons are fictional creatures and so have no direct real world connections to existing animals. Myth holds them to be giant reptiles or serpents with various spiritual or magical qualities.

Eelhound

Habitat: The campgrounds of the Order of the White Lotus near Ba Sing Se

Description: The eel-hound is a large, green animal with a lean body, long legs, and a long, strong tail. It is said to be the animal that can run and swim the fastest. Eel-hounds are used for fast land and sea transportation, and they are strong enough to carry three people at a time.

Real World: Eels are elongated fish that usually have no fins except for the tail fin. They usually live in shallow waters, but some live at the bottom of the ocean.

A greyhound is a type of short-haired hunting dog that has a lean body and long, strong legs, which allows it to run at very fast speeds, up to 40 miles per hour. They have gentle temperaments and are good family dogs.

Elbow Leech

Habitat: The swamp in the episode "The Swamp."

Description: Large, segmented, wormlike creatures with a small mouth on one end that they use to attach to people's elbows. It has an odd series of white dots that travel down its side. It lives in the murky waters of the swamp.

Real World: The elbow leech is a larger version of a regular, real-world leech. Leeches possess both front and rear suckers, though the front sucker is often very small.

Elephant Koi

Habitat: The bay of Kyoshi Island.

Description: The elephant koi are enormous fish, around forty or fifty feet long. They are a light shade of yellow with broken orange patterns down their back, on the tops of their heads between the eyes, on the tips of their fins, and in a small circle around the base of their tail. Variations of this color pattern can be seen on most of the elephant koi.

Real World: Koi are a domesticated, very colorful variety of the common carp, and are closely related to the goldfish. Around 200 years ago, the Japanese noticed the beautiful color patterns on some of the carp and bred them for these markings. Koi come in many different colors, including red, orange, yellow, white, silver, and black, and they are bred for certain markings and color patterns. The metallic scales and orange pattern on the elephant koi resemble gin rin kohaku variety, but the yellow--rather than white--base would probably place them in the miscellaneous, or kawarimono, category.

While normal koi are freshwater fish, the elephant koi live in the ocean bay of Kyoshi Island and thus must prefer brackish or salt water. The elephant koi are probably named for their immense size, as they don't share any characteristics with the elephant; while regular koi seldom grow larger than three feet in length, the elephant koi seem to reach sizes in excess of forty feet. Their habit of breaching the water and their large size are both traits they appear to share with whales; orca whales in particular are able to lift themselves entirely out of the water much like the giant koi. Also like certain whale species, the elephant koi appear to swim together in groups.

Elephant Mandrill

Habitat: The zoo in Ba Sing Se.

Description: This large quadruped has the large body of an elephant, with the head and colorful face of a mandrill1, a babboon-like monkey. It's stocky body (all but its elephant-like legs) is covered with shaggy brown fur.

Real World: The elephant mandrill has the shaggy fur coat and distinctive face of a mandrill (mandrillus sphinx), an old world monkey closely related to the baboons. The male mandrill has the most vividly colored face of any mammal: A scarlet band of hairless skin extends down from between its eyes, flaring out to cover its nostrils. It is flanked by vertical bands of blue skin on either side. Its lower jaw is adorned with an orangish-yellow beard. Like it's close relative, the baboon, it also has shaggy brown fur and an impressive rump. The male mandrill is the largest extant monkey, the females are smaller and less vividly colored. These monkeys inhabit the dense rain forests of Central Africa. The females and young are arboreal, but the heavier males travel along the ground. They live in groups numbering up to 50 led by a dominant male. Their diet includes fruit, seeds, fungi, roots, and insects.

The elephant mandrill has the large stocky body of a pachyderm. Elephants are the largest mammals alive on earth today. There are three species of elephant, two African and one Asian. They all share certain common characteristics. They are all herbivores, have thick, leathery hides, and trunks. They each have tusks, as well, but the tusks of the Asian variety are much shorter than their African counterparts.

The most striking feature of real world elephants, their trunks, is also the key connection to the elephant rat. An elephant's trunk is a fusion of its nose and upper lip. Besides smelling, the trunk is used to manipulate objects, especially food. The trunk has tens of thousands of muscles that allow the elephant to pick up a blade of grass, or tear apart large branches.



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Elephant Rat

Habitat: The jailhouse courtyard in the town of Chin, and in the Fire Nation jail where Hama was imprisoned.

Description: This little rodent has black fur on its entire body except its tail and inner ears, where it has no fur, and around its eyes where it has patches of white fur. Its most distinguishing feature is its long, trunk like nose that it uses to sniff out food. It is an agile creature and is able to stand on its hind legs.

Real World: The size and body shape of this animal suggest that its primary real world connection is to the rat. The connection to the elephant lies in its long, trunk shaped nose.

The term "rat" refers to any of the fifty six species that make up the genus rattus. Given this animal's coloration, the direct connection seems to be to the so called black rat, which originated in Asia, but which has long since spread to every continent on earth. The black rat can live in wooded or grassy environments and is omnivorous. It is also a skilled scavenger and can be found wherever humans live.

Elephants are the largest mammals alive on earth today. There are three species of elephant, two African and one Asian. They all share certain common characteristics. They are all herbivores, have thick, leathery hides, and trunks. They each have tusks, as well, but the tusks of the Asian variety are much shorter than their African counterparts.

The most striking feature of real world elephants, their trunks, is also the key connection to the elephant rat. An elephant's trunk is a fusion of its nose and upper lip. Besides smelling, the trunk is used to manipulate objects, especially food. The trunk has tens of thousands of muscles that allow the elephant to pick up a blade of grass, or tear apart large branches.

Firefly

Habitat: Northern Air Temple and the Cave of Two Lovers

Description: The firefly is a small insect. It has a short grayish-black body, two tiny eyes, and two wings. The wings appear to emit a pale bluish light. The pocket of natural gas on which the temple was built necessitates the use of a non-flammable light source when venturing deep into the mountain, so the Mechanist uses fireflies in his lanterns for this reason.

Real World: Fireflies, also known as lightning bugs, are beetles. They are characterized both by their nocturnal habits and by the special light generating organs in their abdomens. The male fireflies use this organ to emit light in specific patterns in order to attract a mate. Firefly larvae, also known as glowworms, glow as a defense mechanism to ward off predators. If ingested, the chemicals in the glowworm can prove fatal.

The fireflies employed by the Mechanist appear to have luminous wings that glow continuously. This is a marked difference from real world fireflies, whose light generating organs reside in their abdomens and only fluoresce intermittently to attract mates. The Mechanist's fireflies resemble the common housefly more than the real world lightning bug.

Flying Beetle

Habitat: In the Earth Kingdom forest seen in the episode "Jet."

Description: The flying beetle is a small green insect. It has six legs and its back shell is segmented into four sections. It has a very small head and two small, curly antennae. To fly, it opens up its shell to allow a concealed set of wings to emerge.

Real World: Beetles are one of the most successful orders of life in the world and have literally millions of distinct species. This variety makes it virtually impossible to establish a direct connection between the beetle seen on the show and any particular species. Beetles do, however, share some common characteristics. All beetles have a hard exoskeleton or shell that covers their abdomen and can open to reveal a set of wings. Not all beetles are able to fly, though, and some beetles have even lost the inner wings altogether. These insects also play a vital role in the food chain as they mostly feed on decaying organic matter.

Flying Bison

Habitat: Aang's animal guide, Appa, is the only flying bison we have seen alive in present day. He transports Aang and his friends from one location to the next on their journey.

Description: The flying bison is a huge, ten-ton, fluffy beast with six pawed legs and a large, broad, beaver-like tail. Two curved horns protrude out of its head and it has big, dark eyes. The flying bison's body is large enough that a platform can be harnessed to its back for groups of people to sit in. Traditionally an Air Nomad animal, it has the ability to fly and maneuver in the air. It can also use its large tail to create powerful gusts of air to blow back enemies. It has an airbender arrow on its forehead, as well, though it is currently unknown if this is a natural marking or if the airbenders branded them in some way.

Real World: The real life bison shares a similar history to the flying bison in that they were a very abundant species until foreigners came and hunted them down, reducing their numbers to near extinction. Real world bison share the same horns and fluffy exterior, though their tails are small and they have four legs with hooves instead of six legs with paws. The other half of the flying bison appears to be beaver-like in appearance. Beavers share the same type of tail and have similar noses, only not as wide.

Flying Boar

Habitat: Sighted in Aang's vision in the Earth Kingdom swamp.

Description: A white boar with large wings attached to its back.

Real World: The flying boar seen in the swamp resembles a trademark symbol of John Steinbeck's, the pigasus1 (source: Center for Steinbeck Studies). A pun on the mythological Pegasus, or flying horse, Steinbeck often signed his name accompanied by a drawing of the winged pig, and eventually added a Latin motto to it which means "to the stars on the wings of a pig." The pigasus symbolizes aspiration.

The flying pig in Avatar may also be a visual form of the term "when pigs fly," an idiom that means something will never happen. Since it would appear pigs do in fact fly in the world of Avatar, it can be deduced that anything is possible there.



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Fox Antelope

Habitat: The agrarian area between the outer and inner walls of Ba-Sing-Se.

Description: These graceful grazers have the heads of antelopes, adorned with spiral horns, and the bodies of red foxes. The fur on their upper parts is rust-red colored; their underparts, the areas around their eyes, and the tips of their fox-like tails are white.

Real World: The horns of the fox antelope resemble the distinctive spiral horns of the male Black Buck (Antilope cervicapra) native to the grasslands of the Indian sub-continent. Females and young of this medium-sized antelope species are fawn-yellow, while the males darken in color as they mature until they become almost black (hence the species name). Both sexes have white underparts. Only the males possess horns, which can grow up to two feet in length. The Black Buck is considered one of the fastest land mammals, and can reach speeds of up to 50 miles per hour. The Black Buck was once one of the most abundant antelope species in the Indian sub-cotinent, but it's population has severely declined due to to excessive hunting and the destruction of their natural habitat.

In body shape and coloration the The fox antelope resembles the red fox (Vulpes vulpes). Red foxes range in color from grayish, to yellow, to flame-red. Native to most of the northern hemisphere, they are the most widely dispersed carnivore species on the planet. They can be found in various habitats, and even thrive in urban and semi-urban settings. Essentially omnivorous, foxes mainly prey on small rodents and rabbits, but will also eat insects and fruit.

Giant Beetle

Habitat: Draft insect seen used by the sand people of the Si Wong Desert.

Description: This creature is a giant insect with a large green shell that serves as its body. It has small black eyes and, like all insects, it has six legs. These creatures have been domesticated and are used like oxen to pull large, heavy loads.

Real World: Beetles are one of the most successful orders of life in the world and have literally millions of distinct species. This variety makes it virtually impossible to establish a direct connection between the beetle seen on the show and any particular species. Beetles do, however, share some common characteristics. All beetles have a hard exoskeleton or shell that covers their abdomen and can open to reveal a set of wings. Not all beetles are able to fly, though, and some beetles have even lost the inner wings altogether. These insects also play a vital role in the food chain as they mostly feed on decaying organic matter.

Giant Fly

Habitat: This creature was found served as a meal for the people in the Earth Kingdom swamp.

Description: An enormous brown-green insect with tiny translucent wings and red eyes. It appears to have eight legs in total and has a very large thorax compared to the rest of its body.

Real World: This enormous insect resembles the common fruit fly, except that it is the size of a small dog. Relative to the rest of its body, the giant fly's wings are tiny and appear to be far too small to allow it to fly. If it was in fact able to fly when alive then this is a trait it shares the bumblebee, whose wingspan also appears to be too small to allow for flight.

Giant Serpent

Habitat: The Serpent's Pass

Description: This gigantic green monster is incredibly fierce and dangerous. It appears to attack any and everything that attempts to pass through the water it inhabits. The body is very long and large with various fins on the back. Its head has large red eyes and a very long mouth which contains a great amount of teeth and an equally long tongue. It has two fins on either side of its face that go outward and appear fan like. It also has two large whiskers, one on either side of the nose. The creature is very similar to the Unagi and may be related.

Real World: The Giant Serpent seems to be inspired by the eastern mythological creatures, Oriental Dragons, or else the Chinese dragon. Unlike the western folk lore, the Oriental Dragon is a long snake like creature with arms and legs. These dragons share the same eyes and whiskers as the Giant Serpent as well as general body shape (minus the legs and arms).

Glow Fly

Habitat: The Earth Kingdom swamp

Description: A pretty small insect, the glow fly's features are not distinguishable due to the intense luminosity of its light. When it is lit up fully, the bug appears to be much larger than usual.

Real World: The lightning bug (or firefly) is likely the closest real life connection to the glowing bug seen in Avatar. Certain species of adult fireflies are able to emit light using an enzyme inside their abdomens. The flash patterns of light that they blink are used to attract mates. This bioluminescence is generally not as bright as that of the insect seen in Avatar; while the glow fly produced enough light to see by for about a yard around, the light of an adult lightning bug couldn't cover such a broad range.

Green Catfish

Habitat: In the Earth Kingdom river or pond near Aunt Wu's village seen in the episode "The Fortuneteller."

Description: This fish is chubby and green with a broad face that has whiskers, but no lips. It has a short dorsal fin that goes from the top of its head all the way down its spine and two greenish-yellow fins on either side of its body. This fish also has a habit of repeatedly jumping high out of the water.

Real World: Although there are no solid green catfish like the one seen in Avatar, catfish inhabit freshwater habitats throughout the world . While most identify catfish by their barbels--the whisker-like sensory organs on either side of its face--not all catfish have them. What distinguishes all catfish is that, unlike most fish, they do not have scales and they all share certain head and swimbladder characteristics.

Green Parrot

Habitat: On the shoulder of the Pirate Captain.

Description: This creature has feathers and is capable of flight, but has many reptilian characteristics as well. It has a parrot-like beak and a feathered tail, but its wings end in claws and it moves on all four limbs when it chooses not to fly. Its feet also seem to lack the reversed toe characteristic of all modern birds, giving it a more reptilian appearance. The green parrot also has a small dorsal fin on its back.

Real World: It has long been thought that birds evolved from dinosaurs, and possible links between the two have been studied intensely. The earliest known bird, archaeopteryx1, shares many characteristics with the green parrot in Avatar. It has feathered wings, but also claws. Archaeopteryx also lacks the reversed toe of modern birds, instead having the reptilian structure of dinosaurs.



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Green Sealguana

Habitat: Outlying islands of the Fire Nation.

Description: This creature is a cross between an iguana and a seal. It's head is lizard-like and it has the central row of spines from it's cranium to the tip of it's long tail, typical of the iguana. Its torso is seal shaped, but its long, lizard-like legs end with enlarged, webbed feet.

Real World: The sealguanas may be based on two iguana species. Green iguanas are large herbivorous arboreal lizards found in Central and South America. Although green in color, in their habitat and habits the sealguanas resemble another species more: the Galapagos Islands' marine iguanas. These are semi-aquatic grayish lizards who roost and bask on the island's volcanic-rock cliffs, occasionally diving into the cold waves to feast on algae.

Common Seals occurs along coastlines of the northern hemisphere. They are large (up to 6 feet long) aquatic mammals who spend most of their time in the ocean, in pursuit of fish and other prey. They come on land, usually to the same territorial base, to rest and breed. In the water they are powerful swimmers, streamlined and graceful. On land they galumph about laboriously, due to the diminished flexibility of their hind limbs.

Nick.com states "The call of the sealguana is a melodious sound. Sailors used to believe that the sealguanas were actually beautiful mermaids calling to them. But when they got up close, they saw they were just scaly creatures and killed them for food".

Hamster

Habitat: The derelict Fire Navy ship in "The Boy in the Iceberg."

Description: Small, furry rodents that have slightly feline facial features. Their fur is white and they have small, flattened tails. They make squealing noises much like hamsters or mice.

Real World: These little creatures seem most connected to real life hamsters and domestic cats. Hamsters are small, four-legged, omnivorous rodents that are often kept as pets. The best connection might be to the Winter White Hamsters, whose fur turns completely white as the days shorten heading into winter.

The domestic cat is a small, furry four-legged mammal of the felidae family. The many different breeds of domestic cat make it nearly impossible to make a direct connection between any particular type and the animal in Avatar.

Hermit Crab

Habitat: In and around the Northern Air Temple.

Description: The hermit crabs are palm-sized, terrestrial crustaceans who live in mountainous environments. They have small black eyes on short stalks and long, curly antennae on their heads. The hermit crabs have at least six furry legs that they use to walk sideways. The spiral shaped shells have an alternating black and white pattern, and if the crabs choose to they can withdraw almost entirely inside of them.

Real World: Most real life hermit crabs are aquatic, but there are a few terrestrial varieties, such as the Caribbean crab and the Ecuadorian crab. These land hermit crabs share many traits with their aquatic counterparts; for example, both need to find ever larger shells to inhabit as they grow and both have ten legs. All hermit crabs are cold-blooded and have gills, but the gills of land hermit crabs have evolved to allow them to breathe air.

Although the Avatar hermit crabs are terrestrial, they closely resemble the real life zebra hermit crab, an aquatic subspecies whose legs are striped in alternating bands of black and white and are about the same size as the fictional creatures.

Hog Monkey

Habitat: The Earth Kingdom forest seen in "Jet", the zoo in Ba Sing Se.

Description: The hog monkey has a vaguely canine face, a long tail and the body of a monkey. It has reddish eyes and a dog like snout that is full of sharp teeth. Its fur is brown over most of its body, except around its face and head area which is a very dark brown. Although the hog monkey does not really resemble a pig in any way, its noises are swinish in nature.

Real World: Dogs are four legged mammals that were domesticated by humans more than ten thousand years ago. They are social animals that are intelligent enough to learn and be trained. There are hundreds of breeds of dogs and so it is difficult to make a direct connection between the hog monkey and a specific type of dog.

Monkeys are simian mammals that are found in Asia, Africa and the Americas. Species size ranges widely from a few inches and less than a pound in weight to several feet tall and around 75 pounds. "Monkey" is, in fact, a generic term for a subset of primates that fall into two categories: old world monkeys and new world monkeys. The difference between these categories relates to the shape and size of the nose. Since the hog monkey does not have a simian face, it is unclear to which category it might be connected.

Kimodo Rhinoceros

Habitat: Mounts for Fire Nation cavalry.

Description: This enormous beast is covered in thick, grey skin, which likely serves as natural protection for its body. Three large, curved horns dominate its face, two curving down from its forehead and one curving upward from its snout. The rhino's mouth and jaw structure look somewhat reptilian, but the small ears on either side of its head are mammalian. Its torso resembles that of a rhinoceros, but ends in a long, dinosaur-like tail. The animal's feet are short, muscular, and clawed.

Real World: The kimodo rhinoceros resembles both its namesake and certain ceratopsid dinosaurs. Native to Africa and Asia, the rhinoceros family consists of five species, all large, plant-eating mammals that can be recognized by the large horns above their noses. This horn is not bone; it is keratin, or densely matted hair. The rhino's thick skin is divided into several plates that cover its body and serves as natural armor.

The facial structure, triple horns, and tail of the kimodo rhinoceros also suggest a connection to the ceratopsidae family of dinosaurs that flourished in the late Cretaceous period. These animals were massive, herbivorous reptiles with bony frills behind their head and large horns. Their armor plated torsos ended in long tails and they had four short legs.

Specific connections within this family might include the triceratops and styracosaurus. The former had three horns, but the horn above its nose was much smaller than the two on its forehead. The latter had a single large horn above its nose that resembles the one in the same location on the kimodo rhinoceros. The two large horns above the kimodo rhinoceros' head directly parallel those on the forehead of the triceratops.

Koala Sheep

Habitat: The Black Cliffs in the Fire Nation.

Description: The body of this creature is sheep like in every fashion, except for the koala face, recognizable by the large nose and ears. The koala sheep is extremely docile and seems to spend the majority of its time sleeping. It seems to care very little about its surroundings and is in no way afraid or intimated by humans, even to the point they apparently do not mind being used as pillows. They're wool is very soft, and if shaved off, can create an exceptionally comfortable cushioning.

Real World: Sheep are grazing animals that feed on grasses, weeds or any vegetable matter. They are social creatures that exhibit "flocking behavior", meaning they live in herds. Sheep were domesticated by humans about 10,000 years ago and are used for the production of wool, meat and milk.

The koala is a marsupial native to Australia. Often referred to as a "koala bear," the koala is in fact not a member of the bear family, at all; its closest relative is the wombat. The koala is almost exclusively arboreal, spending most of its life in the branches of the eucalyptus trees it feeds upon.

Koalaotters

Habitat: Seen in the arctic waters near the Northern Water Tribe city.

Description: The koalaotter is a furry, aquatic mammal who enjoys backstroking through icy waters. The creature has rounded ears, a black nose, and small black eyes. It has large furry ears, four legs and a wide, flat tail. The koalaotter's back and head are light gray while its underbelly is white.

Real World: The face of the koalaotter is taken almost entirely from the koala, a marsupial native to Australia. Often referred to as a "koala bear," the koala is in fact not a member of the bear family, at all; its closest relative is the wombat. The koala is almost exclusively arboreal, spending most of its life in the branches of the eucalyptus trees it feeds upon.

The rest of the koalaotter's body closely resembles a sea otter, though the principal connection to the sea otter seems to be the creature's preference for the backstroke and its playful demeanor. Sea otters have long, weasel like bodies (they are members of the weasel family) that are designed for spending a lot of time in the ocean. Very fine, dense fur covers its body and provides both buoyancy and warmth. They inhabit much of the North Pacific and stick to rocky coastlines where they can hunt for sea urchins and other invertebrates to eat.

Lastly, the koalaotter's wide, flat tail suggests a possible connection to the beaver. Well-known for its habit of building river dams, beavers are large, brown rodents that live in both North America and part of Europe. Their broad, flat tails help them swim efficiently and alert other beavers to potential danger; when startled, they slap the water in warning as they dive.

Library Fox

Habitat: Wan Shi Tong's library.

Description: These small, four legged canines serve the Knowledge Spirit, Wan Shi Tong, by gathering knowledge from all over the world for safe keeping in his library. They are about the size of a small dog and have grey fur except for their abdomen, front paws and the ends of their tails which are white.

Real World: These creatures closely resemble real life foxes. Related to the domestic dog and wolves, foxes live on almost every continent and come in many colors. Unlike many canines, however, they are not pack animals. The fox has been domesticated only in the last century and is generally still regarded as a wild animal.

Lion Turtle

Habitat: The ocean near Wulong Forest, on the Western Earth Kingdom

Description: The lion turtle is the biggest creature in the world of Avatar, and possibly the last of its kind. It has the head and paws of a lion and the body of a turtle. On top of its shell grows a lush forest, which gives the lion turtle the appearance of a small island when submerged. The lion turtle is an ancient and wise creature who remembers the era before the Avatar and taught Aang how to spiritbend/energybend.

Real World: The african lion is the world's second largest cat. It has a tawny coat with a white underbody, and long tail with a black tuft at the end. The males have large manes and are generally larger than the females. Lions live in prides, groups consisting of several related females, their young, plus one or several dominant males. Some lions are solitary nomads. The females of the pride do most of the hunting, often working as a group.

Turtles are ancient reptiles that have been around since the Triassic period and there are two to three hundred species of turtles in existence today. All turtles have a shell that acts as natural body armor to protect them from predators; when threatened the turtle can draw its head and limbs inside the tough casing and away from danger.

Meadow Voles

Habitat: The Earth Kingdom forest near the hot springs where Iroh took a bath in "The Spirit World, Winter Solstice, Part I."

Description: Meadow voles are palm-sized rodents with four stubby legs. They have brown fur and a rat-like tail. As a prey animal, the meadow vole is naturally vigilant and seems to have the ability to detect approaching threats through heightened senses. When alarmed, they hop up and down before ultimately running for safety.

Real World: Commonly referred to as field mice, meadow voles are rodents indigenous to North America. Somewhat similar to its Avatar counterpart, field mice stamp their feet when they feel threatened. They also have a short life span, generally living less than a year, but they make up for it with rapid reproduction.

Messenger Hawk

Habitat: The Fire Nation uses this bird to carry messages to and from bases, troops, and enemies.

Description: A moderately sized bird of prey with dark red or brown feathers all over its body and two long plumes falling from its tail. Its leg feathers are white. In domestic use, it has a canister on its back for transporting message scrolls.

Real World: Birds have been used in the fields of hunting and warfare for many years in real life. Falconry was a favorite past time of nobles in Europe during the Middle Ages and various bird of prey species were used to hunt small game such as rabbits.

The messenger hawk's domestic use, however, is more akin to that of messenger pigeons, especially homing pigeons. Thanks to the pigeon species' flying speed and altitude and its homing ability, homing pigeons were used extensively during the two World Wars to carry important military messages, much like the messenger hawk is in Avatar; however, unlike the hawk, the messenger pigeon can only deliver messages to one specific location, which it has marked mentally as its home. It's a misconception that the bird instinctively always knows where to deliver messages to.

Mongoose Dragon

Habitat: The mounts for Azula, Ty Lee, and Mai.

Description: This dark green giant reptile is large enough to be ridden on, approximately fifteen to twenty feet long from snout to tail. It has bright yellow eyes and crests on its head and back that have light green stripe patterns on them. It moves along the ground quickly on its four squatty clawed legs.

Real World: This enormous reptile most closed resembles the green plumed basilisk lizard1. Its markings and raised crests are very similar to those on its giant Avatar counterpart. The green plumed basilisk also has the ability to run short distances on top of water; using its tail for balance, it rears up on its webbed hind legs and runs very fast across. This ability has given the basilisk the nickname "the Jesus Christ Lizard."



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Ostrich Horse

Habitat: Mounts for Earth Kingdom cavalry.

Description: Ostrich horses are brown, bipedal, bird like creatures approximately ten feet tall. They have two toes facing forward and one facing backward. They have wide flat tails and short, stubby wings that are most likely incapable of flight. Their heads and necks are equine, but their mouths are avian. As domesticated animals used in war, ostriche horses only appear in body armor that covers their head, neck and part of their sides. This makes a positive description of their facial features problematic.

Real World: The ostrich horse as its name indicates is a cross between an ostrich and a horse. The body of the creature seems to resemble the ostrich while its neck and head resemble the horse.

Real life ostriches, native to Africa, are the largest living species of birds. Although flightless, ostriches are excellent runners capable of moving at speeds up to 40 mph. They are social animals that live in small herds and feed on seeds and plants. Males can reach up to 300 pounds and are mostly black in color. Females are smaller and are colored brown or grey. Ostriches have been domesticated in many areas of the world and it is possible for small people to ride them.

Horses are large, cloven-footed mammals that were first domesticated by humans around 5,000 years ago. There are many subspecies of horses that range from the miniature horse that weighs several hundred pounds to the enormous Clydesdale or Draft horse that weighs over 3,000 pounds. Due to the variety of real life horse breeds and the fact that war ostriches are only seen masked, it is impossible to speculate on a specific subspecies connection between the two.

Penguin

Habitat: These creatures have been seen in abundance in the south polar regions near Katara and Sokka's village.

Description: The penguins in Avatar have four flippers and are as tall as teenage humans. Their faces are somewhat otter-like, with small black noses and whiskers. They have short necks that are almost indistinguishable from their chests. Their feet also seem to be webbed. Their coloration is counter shaded, meaning their backs, tail, flippers and head are black and their underbellies are white. They walk upright and make excellent sleds for enterprising youngsters.

Real World: The penguins in Avatar resemble in many ways the penguins in real life, specifically Emperor or other large breeds of penguin. Emperor penguins often reach heights approaching four feet and while we do not know Aang or Katara's exact height, the proportions seen in the show seem consistent with the height of the largest penguin species. Also adapted for the show is the habit of real life penguins, specifically the Antarctic breeds, to go "tobogganing" on their bellies to speed their movement over ice.

The primary differences between the penguins on the show and those in the real world are the two extra flippers and the otter-like face. Real life penguins are birds and so have beaks and feathers. It is not readily apparent whether the penguins in Avatar have feathers or not.

Platypus Bear

Habitat: The forest near the Earth Kingdom village seen in "The Fortuneteller", the zoo in Ba Sing Se.

Description: The platypus bear is a large, furry animal that has been known to attack humans. Its fur is mostly brown with a shallow white "V" on its chest and a patch of lighter brown around its eyes. The creature has a large bill lined with jagged teeth and a beaver-like tail. Its front paws are padded with claws and it has large, webbed hind feet. The platypus bear is capable of standing upright and also lays eggs rather than giving birth to live young.

Real World: As its name implies, the platypus bear has straightforward connections to real life animals, sharing many characteristics with both namesakes.

One of nature's great oddities, the platypus is a small, nocturnal aquatic mammal native to the rivers of eastern Australia and New Zealand. It is distinguished by its large duck-like bill, webbed feet and beaver-like tail. Unlike ducks, however, the bill of the platypus does not open; it is used only for digging out food and is very sensitive. The animal's actual mouth is located underneath the bill. These animals are one of the few mammals to lay eggs rather than give birth to live young.

Bears are furry mammals that live almost everywhere in the world. There are many species of bear, though the species that appears most connected with the platypus bear is the brown bear. Two of the largest types of bear, the Grizzly and the Kodiak, are part of this species and they can be quite aggressive towards humans. These bears are carnivorous and have large claws that are good for ripping and tearing. Though their claws are not as sharp as many other animals, they possess tremendous strength that make killing their prey easy if they are able to land a solid blow.

Aang and Sokka make a lot of suggestions of how to get the platypus bear to stop its attack, but only a few of them are viable courses of action for real bears and most depend upon the type of bear attacking. Running from any bear species is often a bad idea, as the animal will give chase immediately. Curling up into a fetal position and playing dead is usually the best course of action for stopping any bear attack, as it makes a person appear less threatening and protects the head and chest. If the bear continues attacking after the person plays dead, then making noise and fighting back are the best bets for survival.

Polar Bear

Habitat: As a domesticated animal in Katara and Sokka's village.

Description: This creature is the size of a large dog. It has a pink or reddish nose, rounded ears and three toed paws. Its fur is white except for a black striped pattern that begins at its nose and runs over its forehead and along its back.

Real World: The natural connection for this animal is to the real life polar bear, or white bear, though the fictional creature is much smaller. The real world animal is native to the polar regions of the northern hemisphere and is well adapted to life in that harsh environment. Its fur and blubber protect it from the cold. The polar bear is also one of the worlds largest predators, with adults weighing in over a thousand pounds. Its fur lacks any sort of pigmentation. This makes it appear white which provides it excellent camouflage when hunting for seals, the mainstay of its diet.

Possum Chicken

Habitat: Hanging from a tree branch by its tail in the Earth Kingdom swamp.

Description: A white animal with a chicken's body and an opposum's face. It has a long rat-like tail, talon feet, and small, stubby wings.

Real World: This animal appears to be a pretty clean cross between a white chicken and an opposum. Opposums are cat-sized marsupials with prehensile tails. Though these tails are versatile and can often act as a fifth limb while climbing, they are not strong enough to support the full weight of an adult, so opposums actually don't hang upside-down from tree branches as was seen in Avatar.

Chickens come in many different breeds, and it would appear that the chicken half of this animal resembles the common leghorn chicken, which is large and usually entirely white.

Purple Pentapus

Habitat: The secret sewer passage leading into Omashu.

Description: Tiny purple octopus-like creatures with five small tentacles as well as eyes and a bright purple head section. It is roughly the size of a human fist and though it latches onto targets, it is apparently harmless. The purple pentapus is tough to remove with brute force, but if one strokes its head it will readily release its grip.

Real World: The purple pentapus resembles an octopus, but on a much smaller scale. Unlike the octopus, the small invertebrate in Avatar only has five arms much like a starfish (penta being the Greek numerical prefix for 'five') rather than eight tentacles. The purple pentapus also appears to attach to its targets like a leech does, using suction from the small suckers on the underneath of its arms to stay connected.

Pygmy Panther

Habitat: The streets of Ba Sing Se.

Description: As their name suggests, these creatures are about the size of house cats, and otherwise resemble melanistic leopards. Their eyes are yellowish-green.

Real World: Although much smaller, these cats resemble the melanistic variation of a leopard (panthera pardus). Leopards are the fourth largest cat species. They have elongated muscular bodies, their paws are broad and their ears are short. Fur color varies from tawney to grayish to dark brown. The lower parts and the insides of the limbs are white, the rest of the head, throat, chest, and limbs are marked with small black spots. Leopards live in highly variable habitats, and dffferent environments affect the appearance of the local leopard population.

The species has a tendency to melanism (black coloration). Melanistic leopards (sometimes refered to as black panthers; the word 'panther' can be applied to a variety of cats) have mutations that cause them to produce more black pigment (eumelanin) than tawney pigment (pheomelanin). This results in a chiefly black coat, though the spots can still be distinguished under certain light conditions. Melanism is more frequent in densely forested areas where a dark coat may provide better camouflage.

Graceful and stealthy, leopards are famous for their ability to go undetected. They can sneak right to their prey before being spotted, almost appearing from nowhere. They are good climbers and strong swimmers. Although mainly nocturnal, they may hunt during daytime on overcast days. Leopards are solitary and generally avoid other leopards. However, 3 or 4 are sometimes seen hunting together. These cats' senses, especially hearing and eyesight, are extremely acute. Species preyed upon includes a very wide variety: Thomson's gazelles, reed-bucks, wildebeest, impalas, jackals, baboons, antelopes, and storks.

Rabbaroo

Habitat: The zoo in Ba-Sing-Se.

Description: The rabbaroo has the face and long floppy ears of a rabbit. It has the body of a kangaroo, including a pouch. It stands nearly as tall as a grown man. The rabbaroo's head, including ears and neck is brown, but it's muzzle is beige. It's upper torso, forelimbs are beige colored but it's hands are brown (the coloration pattern resemles a jacket). Its belly and the underside of its tail are beige. It's hind legs and tail are brown. According to the Ba-Sing-Se zookeeper they enjoy hopping in large fields. They also appear to have a taste for cabbage. The rabbaroo featured in Aang's Tale was carrying three "joeys" in her pouch.

Real World: The rabbaroo has the head of a rabbit. Rabbits are small herbvivorous mammals native to Eurasia and found as pets throughout the world. Domesticated rabbits are descended from the European rabbit (oryctolagus cuniculus). Wild rabbits have grayish brown coats with light gray underparts. They prefer to live in small groups in complex barrow systems (warrens). They are generalized herbivors, eating grasses, leaves, tree bark, and a variety of garden vegetables. Rabbits are notorious for their reproductive capacity. They can breed year-round and have a short reprocuctive cycle. In this respect the rabbaroo appears to resemble the rabbit more than the kangaroo: the female featured was carrying three young in her pouch, whereas in a female kanguroo's pouch only one joey would be visible at a time.

Kangaroos are marsupial mammals found only in the Australian continent, New Guniea, and some near by islands. Of the extant kangaroo species, the Red Kangaroo (macropus rufus) is the largest, with the male standing 1.8 meters tall. Kangaroos have robust hind-limbs and thick muscular tails, used as a counter-balance when standing or jumping - their prefered mode of locomotion. They prefer open dry plains, with scattered shade trees. Red kangaroos roam in "mobs" averaging 10 individuals, mostly related females and their young, plus one or several males. They rest in the shade during the day and become active in the night and twilight periods. Most of their active time is spent grazing. Their diet consists mainly of grasses and flowering plants.

Although not nearly as prolific as a rabbit, the red Kangaroo performs its own reproductive feats: The female red kengaroo can at one time care after 3 young in three stages of development: While her oldest and semi-independent joey is still returning to nurse, she is already carrying a new joey in her pouch and a fertilized egg in her uterus.

Rabbit

Habitat: Earth Kingdom city of Omashu.

Description: The rabbit is a small furry animal. It has a pink nose, two very long ears, and is covered in white fur. Its rear legs are long and broad and allow it to move quickly by hopping.

Real World: Rabbits are small mammals and are characterized by long ears, powerful hind legs with four webbed toes, and small fluffy tails. Rabbits are very fast and use their hind feet to move by hopping. To lessen the jolt of hopping, the fur on a rabbit's back feet is particularly thick.

Although there are many different kinds of rabbits, the extreme length and direction of the Avatar rabbit's ears suggest that it is a lop-eared rabbit. The Lop is a domesticated breed of rabbit characterized by its long, droopy ears. There are five types of lop-eared rabbits: the Mini Lop, the French Lop, the Dwarf Lop, the Holland Lop, and the English Lop. Although it is unlikely that the rabbit in Omashu was a Dwarf Lop, is it unclear which of the remaining four breeds presents the closest connection; no real-world rabbit's ears are longer than its body.

Raven Eagle

Habitat: Fire Nation Islands

Description: A large bird of prey, it feeds on other birds. It has brown feathers on most of its body, with white feathers on the top and back of its head and a patch of red on its neck and the sides of its head. Its head feathers form a crest that is flanked by two back streaks that rise up from the sides of its eyes. It has a yellow, hooked beak.

Real World: Ravens are large perching birds with glossy, black feathers, that can be found in almost every continent in the world, though mostly in the Northern Hemisphere. It is a highly intelligent, omnivorous bird that can adapt to many different environments, from the frozen arctic to the scorching desert. Ravens appear in many myths and legends across a wide variety of cultures due to their intelligence, black color, sinister call, and main diet of carrion.

Eagles are birds of prey. They are very large in size, strongly built, and have heavy heads and beaks. Their large beaks are hooked, their eyesight is acute, and their strong legs end in talons, making them excellent hunters. There are various different species of eagle, many of which are used in falconry, a sport in which birds of pray are used to chase and hunt animals for humans.

Saber-Toothed Mooselion

Habitat: The campsite in the Earth Kingdom seen in "Bitter Work"

Description: The saber-toothed mooselion stands at least ten feet tall, with brown fur, a long muzzle, and palm-shaped antlers on its head. Its body and tail are feline in appearance, and its two enlarged upper fangs extend past its lower jaw. The mooselion also has large clawed paws.Cubs are very small (less than two feet in length) and are difficult to classify until their horns and fangs grow in. They vaguely resemble a light brown hippo with a stubby tail.

Real World: The saber-toothed mooselion is a clear cut mix of a moose and the prehistoric saber-toothed cat (or Smilodon). The moose is the largest member of the deer family. They are only called "moose" in North America; in Europe they are called "elk." Only males grow antler racks, and the shape of the Avatar animal resembles the common North American species of moose than any European counterparts.

The saber-toothed tiger is a member of the cat family that lived in the Americas from 3 million to 10,000 years ago. The term Smilodon means "knife tooth" and this species of cat was approximately the size of a lion. The Avatar animal appears to share its feline form and large fangs, although the Smilodon's tail was short rather than long. The long tail of the saber-toothed mooselion appears to be that of a lion, rather than the Smilodon.

Scorpion

Habitat: The desert floor in the huge canyon known as the Great Divide.

Description: This is a brownish, six-legged creature that lives in arid environments characterized by open, rocky terrain. Its body appears to be a hard, shell-like exoskeleton that is distinguished by two large fore claws and a large, stinger on its tail. Its shell is dark brown and its stinger is light brown.

Real World: There are hundreds of scorpion varieties and they are indigenous just about everywhere in the world. Scorpions are cold-blooded invertebrates and their soft organs are protected by a discretely segmented exterior shell. Their bodies are separated into two parts: the head and the abdomen, which ends at the creature's tail. All scorpions produce venom and they use the stinger at the end of their whip-like tail to deliver the poison to their target.

Unlike the scorpion seen in Avatar, real life scorpions have eight legs and are members of the arachnid family. Besides this difference, the scorpion seen on Avatar seems to be a reasonably faithful imitation of the real life creatures. It is difficult to make a direct connection to a specific subspecies, however, due to the abundance of desert subspecies throughout the world.

Screaming Bird

Habitat: The Earth Kingdom swamp

Description: The screaming bird has mottled gray and whitish feathers that appear to be puffed up all around its body. The white feathers are on the tips of its wings and cheeks. Its eyes and beak are almost hidden by its pudgy face; the eyes especially appear beady and dark beneath its head feathers. Its beak is very tiny when closed; when open, it can spread very wide to emit a loud shriek that sounds like a woman screaming.

Real World: The screaming bird doesn't appear to have very solid real world connections. There is bird family called screamers, and though they do have loud screaming calls, these are closely related to ducks and are far too large to be compared to the Avatar bird. The screaming bird does appear to physically have ruffled, or puffed up, feathers; this is a defense mechanism for birds in the wild, who fluff their feathers up when threatened in order to appear larger than they actually are.

It's also possible that the screaming bird and its pudgy face may be a very subtle nod at Alfred Hitchcock and his classic horror movie, The Birds.

Sea Lion

Habitat: On the waters near Ember Island.

Description: A large and strong animal, the sea lion is used in the Fire Nation to pull on engine-less and sail-less boats. Its skin is pinkish-brown, with a tan underside. It has small ears and small eyes, a large nose and a somewhat portly snout, with short whiskers coming off the sides of its cheeks. It is unknown if the animal has legs or fins.

Real World: Sea lions are marine mammals. They are distinguished from seals in that sea lions have small ear flaps and seals do not. Sea lions have long flippers to swim, and they are capable of using all four of their flippers to 'walk' on land. Sea lions have long whiskers on their jowls which are sensitive to movement, thus helping the animal find food (fish, squid, etc) in the dark depths of the ocean by sensing when something has swam by. Sea lions can make loud noises such as barking, honking and roaring, and these are especially loud in males during mating season.

Sheep Pig

Habitat: Gansu and Sela's farm in "Zuko Alone"

Description: The sheep pig has the head and body shape of a pig, but is covered in wool like a sheep.

Real World: Pigs are omnivorous, undulate mammals native to Eurasia. They have an excellent sense of smell and consequently are very adept at foraging. Humans domesticated pigs between 5,000 and 7,000 years ago and have since brought them to every continent on earth.

Sheep are grazing animals that feed on grasses, weeds or any vegetable matter. They are social creatures that exhibit "flocking behavior", meaning they live in herds. Sheep were domesticated by humans about 10,000 years ago and are used for the production of wool, meat and milk.

Shirshu

Habitat: The mount of the bounty hunter, Jun, seen in "Bato of the Water Tribe."

Description: The shirshu is a huge mammalian monster with a wolf or dog-like head that lacks eyes. It instead relies exclusively on smell for navigation, and the animal's face is dominated by a large snout that ends in a collection of small tentacles that it uses to "see by smell." For this reason, the shirshu is a superior tracker. It also has a long, whip-like tongue with barbs at the end; the barbs secrete a venom that paralyzes the animal's victim. Almost as large as Appa, the shirshu is nevertheless extremely fast and agile.

Real World: There are no strong real world parallels to the shirshu. Bloodhounds and other tracking dogs have been used since at least the sixteenth century to track people, but all of these have eyes and do not "see by smelling." The closest relationship the shirshu has would be to the star-nosed mole. 1 Functionally blind, this animal's highly sensitive nasal tentacles, called Eimer's organs, give it an extraordinary sense of smell that can help it find food sources underground.

Also, nature is replete with examples of creatures that paralyze their victims before consuming or laying their eggs on them, including the tarantula hawk wasp and many snake species.



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Singing Groundhogs

Habitat: The prairie or steppe regions of the Earth Kingdom.

Description: Singing groundhogs are small, brown furry rodents. They live in huge colonies on wide open prairies. With an ear for music, these creatures will respond to single tones from a flute or other instrument by repeating that tone back to the player.

Real World: The Singing Groundhog seems most closely related to the real life prairie dog, who also enjoys popping up out of little holes in the ground, rather than the groundhog. Prairie dogs are small, furry rodents that are native to the grasslands of North America. They are highly social animals who live in large colonies dug into the earth.

Sparrowkeet

Habitat: A pet shop in Ba-Sing-Se.

Description: The feathers on all but the heads of these dove-sized birds are lime-green colored. Their heads are yellow, except for the area around the eyes which is white, and an orange spot on the cheek. They have peach colored parakeets-like beaks, suited for seed-cracking.

Real World: These birds are a combination of an introduced species that has suceeded greatly in the US, and an endemic North American Parrot species, which is now extinct.

House Sparrows (Passer domesticus) are native to Eurasia and North Africa, and have been introduced everywhere else in the wolrd (except Antarctica). 100 sparrows were released in Brooklin in 1851. From this original stock, (plus a few 'transplants' and additional introductions) the birds have spread throughout North America. They live in areas inhabited and modified by humans, but cannot thrive in unaltered wilds. They are possibly the most common bird in the in the US (estimated to number 150,000,000), although their numbers are presently declining.

The sparrowkeet's coloration and body shape closely resemble those of the The Carolina Parakeet (Conuropsis carolinensis), the only parrot species native to the eastern United States. These birds were mostly green, their heads were yellow, and the area around the eyes dark red. By the later half of the 19th century, the Carolina parakeet's habitat was encroached on by human settlements and they were hunted as crop-destroying pests. They were also hunted for their plumage and collected as pets. The last specimen died in captivity in 1918. In recent dacades, a population of a similar species, the Monk Parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus), was accidentally introduced into the US via the pet trade.

Spirit Crane

Habitat: Soaring through the Spirit World

Description: An enormous white bird with tufts of spiky feathers atop its head. It has long legs and a very long, thin neck, which is outstretched as it flies.

Real World: Although the spirit crane very closely resembles the snowy egret or the white heron in appearance, it does not fly with its neck pulled back as these species do. Crane species are water birds that live in wetlands, eating small fish, insects, amphibians, and certain plants. In Japanese mythology, cranes are symbols of longevity, and in China they are considered mystical creatures. "Heavenly cranes" or "blessed cranes" in this tradition were often messengers of wisdom and were said to carry Taoist sages back and forth between heavenly realms on their backs. It is no wonder we see this animal in the Spirit World.

Spirit Koi

Habitat: The oasis in the center of the Northern Water Tribe city.

Description: The two koi fish are a healthy two or three feet in length. The black koi has a single white spot on its head while the white koi has a single black spot.

Real World: Koi are a domesticated, very colorful variety of the common carp, and are closely related to the goldfish. Around 200 years ago, the Japanese noticed the beautiful color patterns on some of the carp and bred them for these markings. Koi come in many different colors, including red, orange, yellow, white, silver, and black, and they are bred for certain markings and color patterns. Color patterns are very specific for Japanese koi, though the forms both closely resemble the tancho kohaku variety of koi fish, which is a white fish with a single red spot on its head.

Unlike the elephant koi, these fish appear to be normally sized and colored. The koi forms of the two spirits are probably very old, and it is believed that koi are capable of living for more than a century as long as they are healthy and protected from predators.

Spirit Wolf

Habitat: Walking behind Koh's tree in the spirit world.

Description: This creature is an enormous, furry, four legged animal that is largely canine in appearance. It has a black nose and brown fur over most of its body, except for a patch of light brown or beige fur around each of its eyes. It is unknown whether this spirit is intelligent or not.

Real World: Wolves are carnivorous, four legged mammals native to the northern hemisphere who share common ancestry with the domestic dog. Their size and weight tend to increase the further north one travels. Wolves are social animals and live in packs that adhere to a strict social hierarchy that is dominated by an alpha male and female.

Tiger Seal

Habitat: South Pole

Description: The facial features of tigerseals are predominantly feline, with cat-like ears, snout, and whiskers. The rest of the animal resembles a seal, with flippers, a sleek body, and tail. Adult tigerseals appear to be approximately five to six feet in length and are gray with a pattern of black stripes. Tigerseal pups have the same markings as their parents, but appear to be only about two to three feet in length.

Real World: Tiger seals appear to be a straightforward cross of a tiger and a seal. Tigers are the largest and most powerful of all living cats. They are predatory carnivores and hunt alone. Of the large cats, only the tiger and the jaguar are swimmers. The pattern of a tiger's stripes is unique to each animal and is actually imprinted on their skin. Tigers rely on their stripes for camouflage in the jungle; it's possible the tigerseal stripe patterns serve a similar purpose.

Seals are known as pinnipeds, "fin-foots" or, literally, "winged foots." Seals have large flippers as forelimbs and their bodies are streamlined, narrowing into a substantial tail. Since tigerseals have ears, they would best be classified as fur seals; true seals do not have ears. The tigerseals are seen in "The Boy in the Iceberg" and appear for only a few seconds after Katara frees Aang. The adult tigerseals begin to bark or bray in unison as if heralding the Avatar's return to the world, sounding very similar to normal seals as they do so.

Toucan-puffin

Habitat: Near coastal caves in the Fire Nation islands.

Description: Small birds with black and white plumage and blue necks. They have large red/yellow beaks that end in a black tip, and their feet are webbed. According to Nick.com, "they have the ability to fly, but would rather hang out by the ocean and eat cave-hoppers".

Real World: Toucan-puffins are based on two different types of birds: toucans (the beak) and puffins (the body).

Puffins are sea birds in the auk family. They have black and white plumage with brightly colored beaks during breeding season. Their wings are adapted for swimming, and they feed primarily by diving for fish and zooplankton. They can also fly by beating their wings rapidly, but usually stay low over the ocean's surface when flying.

Toucans are arboreal tropical birds with enormous colorful beaks. They range in size from 4 ounces and 11 inches to 1.5 pounds and 25 inches, depending on the species. Their bodies are short and thick, with rounded tails. Their necks are short, and their beaks can sometimes be more than half the length of the body. Toucans eat mostly fruit but will occasionally eat insects and small lizards.

Tree Chameleon

Habitat: The woods by Iroh and Zuko's cave in "Avatar Day."

Description: A small lizard with yellowish eyes and a crest on its head. The tree chameleon has a spotted green marking pattern along its back and what appears to be very small wings attached to its sides. It also has a long, curled up tail and a long tongue that it uses to catch and eat bugs.

Real World: Chameleons are lizards that are well known for their ability to change colors and blend in with their surroundings. This lizard's feet are equipped with grasping pincers, which allows it to easily climb tree trunks and branches. Its eyes protrude from its face slightly and are able to move independently of one another, giving the chameleon a 360 degree view of its surroundings. The final very unique feature of this reptile is its extensible tongue, which can be shot out of the chameleon's mouth at insects and food that are out of reach; this tongue can be nearly twice the length of its entire body. The tree chameleon of Avatar most closely resembles the veiled (or Yemen) species of chameleon.

Turkey Duck

Habitat: The Fortuneteller's Village

Description: The duck is a small white bird. It has two webbed feet, two wings and a stubby fan-shaped tail. The duck has gray feathers encircling both its eyes and a yellow bill. Besides the gray eye feathers, the only color on the duck is a band of red skin over its bill. They have a loud, distinctive warble.

Real World: The duck is an aquatic bird that can be found both in salt and fresh water. They are characterized by webbed feet, bills, and water-repellent feathers. Special oils in the duck's skin cause water to bead off its feathers without getting them wet.

The many different breeds and species of duck make it nearly impossible to make a direct correlation with the duck seen in the Fortuneteller's village.

Turtle Duck

Habitat: The garden pond in the Fire Lord's palace

Description: This creature has the head, neck, webbed feet and tail of a duck, but the body and shell of a turtle. Its neck, tail and most of its head are light brown or beige in color. A dark brown stripe runs from its beak back over its head. Its shell is dark green and its scaly underside is light green or off white.

Real World: As the name implies, this animal is a cross between a duck and a turtle. "Duck" is a catch all term for the common fowl of the Anatidae family, which includes geese and swans. Ducks are aquatic birds that can be found both in salt and fresh water. They are characterized by webbed feet, bills, and water-repellent feathers. Special oils in the duck's skin cause water to bead off its feathers without getting them wet. Ducks are well adapted for foraging. They spend most of their lives floating on the surface of small bodies of water looking for fish and insects to eat. They lay their eggs and raise their young on land. They consume insects and grasses when out of the water.

Turtles are ancient reptiles that have been around since the Triassic period and there are two to three hundred species of turtles in existence today. All turtles have a shell that acts as natural body armor to protect them from predators; when threatened the turtle can draw its head and limbs inside the tough casing and away from danger.

Turtle Seal

Habitat: Turtle seals have been seen in great numbers near the Northern Water Tribe city. They fish the coastal waters and take shelter in the many rock caves found among the cliffs and glaciers.

Description: The turtle seal is green with a hard shell around its midsection and four flippers that allow it to swim well in cold water. The creature has a long, sleek neck and head and its face is characterized by small black eyes, small ears, and whiskers. They are social creatures that live in herds and make loud barking noises.

Real World: Turtles are ancient reptiles that have been around since the Triassic period and there are two to three hundred species of turtles in existence today. It is difficult, therefore, to connect the ones seen in the show to a specific species of turtle since the audience has only seen the animals at night. All turtles, however, have a shell that acts as natural body armor to protect them from predators; when threatened the turtle can draw its head and limbs inside the tough casing and away from danger.

Since the seals in Avatar have ears, the closest real world connection is to fur seals (otariidae) rather than to true seals (phocidae), though it is difficult to tell whether turtle seals have any fur or not. Fur seals are aquatic mammals with various subspecies all over the world. Although their limbs have evolved into flippers, they nevertheless retain the ability to walk on land.

Two Headed Fish

Habitat: Village of Jang Hui.

Description: These brown fish are just like normal fish, except for the fact that they have two heads, a mutation caused by the pollution in their environment. According to Nick.com, they "aren't pretty, but they are edible."

Real World: Fish are cold-blooded aquatic vertebrates that have gills to breathe and fins to swim, and are usually covered with scales. There are numerous different species of fish, some of which live in rivers and lakes (freshwater fish) and others who live in seas and oceans (saltwater fish), and they can vary in size from less than an inch long to over 50 feet in length. Different species of fish have different diets and predators; some fish eat plankton and are eaten by other fish, who in turn are eaten by larger marine or land animals. Fish are also consumed as food by humans all over the world.

Unagi

Habitat: The bay of Kyoshi Island.

Description: The unagi is an enormous sea serpent that lurks in the bay of Kyoshi Island. Its body, easily several hundred feet in length, is a very dark brown and does not have scales. Sharp spikes line the back of its body from head to tail. The unagi has bright green eyes and a mouth full of sharp, interlocking teeth. A large fin protrudes from the top of its head and appears to be made of approximately seven hollow bone-like structures with connective webbing. The unagi can expand and contract this fin. Below that, on either side of its head, are four bright yellow stripes, possibly its gills. The unagi also has two very long barbels, which Aang can be seen hanging from in "The Warriors of Kyoshi." The unagi's primary food source seems to be the elephant koi which also inhabit the bay of Kyoshi Island.

Real World: "Unagi" is the Japanese word for freshwater eels. Grilled unagi is a delicacy in Japanese cooking, and the meat--prized for its protein, calcium and vitamins--is traditionally eaten during the hottest months of the year. The Avatar unagi is named for the eel and its long serpentine body is its primary connection with that animal.

The sheer size of the unagi and its carnivorous diet hearken back to the plesiosaurs of the Triassic period and the Ichthyosaurs of the Mesozoic era. In many ways, however, the creature has more in common physically with catfish. Catfish, like the unagi, do not have scales on their bodies. They are distinguished by a rather narrow, pointed head and the presence of barbels. Barbels are slender, whisker-like tactile organs near the mouth which contain the fish's taste buds. The barbels are used by catfish to sense food in dark and murky water.

Vulture Griffin

Habitat: Seen as a circus animal in Ty Lee's circus.

Description: The vulture griffin is a large bird that has the head and wings of a vulture and the body of a lion. It's head and neck have no feathers. The wings and upper body have black feathers and it has a ring of white feathers around the base of its neck. Its feet and underbody are that of a lion, with tawny colored fur.

Real World: As its name implies, this creature seems to be a combination of a vulture and the mythical griffin.

Vultures are large scavenger birds that are distinguised by their bald heads. These birds live on every continent except Antarctica. In popular culture vultures represent death and are often depicted as circling over the heads of those fated soon to die.

Griffins are mythical creatures that have the the body of a lion and the wings and head of an eagle. Mentioned extensively by Greek and Roman writers, the griffin was allegedly a creature of tremendous power and guarded great treasures.

Winged Lemur

Habitat: Before the war, these creatures could be found in abundance in the Southern Air Temple and, presumably, in the other air temples as well. Their numbers are currently lessened, but they still inhabit the air temples. Momo, Aang's winged lemur, travels with

Description: The winged lemur is a small, lightweight creature with special wings attached to its arms to allow flight. Its fur is mostly white with some select black stripes and a black face, which has two proportionately large green eyes. Two very wide and large ears on its head give it fantastic hearing and, being so lightweight, it is very quick and difficult to catch. The lemur seems to have a very acute sense of smell as it is able to detect food from a distance and is not above taking it directly out of the hands of any person who might be holding it at the time. It would appear Air Nomads used to keep these creatures as pets.

Real World: Real-world lemurs are very similar in appearance to the winged lemur with the same basic body shape, color, and face. Real lemurs also share the same type of terrific smell. The other half of the winged lemur's anatomy appears to be bat-like. Bats possess the same large ears that they use for hearing their own screeches, which echo off walls. This gives them their bearings and is called echo-location. The winged lemur's wings are very similar to those of bats, as well, except the lemur uses them to glide rather than flap about erratically as a bat would.

Wolf Bat

Habitat: The Cave of Two Lovers in the episode of the same name.

Description: A furry brown creature with the body similar to that of a wolf, a bat-like face, and leathery bat wings that fold up under its front two legs.

Real World: The Wolfbat is pretty much exactly what its name indicates: a fusion between a wolf and a bat. Its body is for the most part exactly like that of a wolf, except for the bat wings under its front legs and its rather ugly bat face. It is unclear whether the Wolfbat uses sonar to determine the locations of its prey or if it can see like a wolf.

Wood Frog

Habitat: Swamp in the episode "The Blue Spirit".

Description: A palm-sized, brown colored amphibian that lives in a swamp. When frozen, the frog skin secretes a substance that has medicinal purposes, but when it thaws out it's just a normal frog again.

Real World: There are certain species of frogs - including the common wood frog of the United States and Canada - that are actually capable of being frozen and still survive. The amphibian's liver releases glucose (complex sugar) into its blood stream to act as a sort of antifreeze, lowering the freezing temperature of the cells so they remain liquid as the veins and arteries freeze. Though its heart and brain stop functioning, it remains frozen alive under a layer of leaves and dirt. When spring comes and the weather warms, the frogs thaw out over a period of several hours, their hearts restart, and they hop away unharmed. The medicinal possibilities of this inner chemistry are being researched to aid in organ transplant advances.

Since all amphibians have diverse toxin glands with different functions, frogs and toads in particular have been regarded as possessing medicinal attributes as far back as ancient and medieval times. People diluted the toxins for human use, and frog potions were used in various treatments. The Chinese have used chemicals found in toad skin that strengthen heart contractions and slow heart rates to treat heart ailments. Today, scientists are still researching refining the chemicals for use in modern medicine.
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