8. The Piasa Bird was a mythological man-eating dragon that lived along the bluffs of the Mississippi River
The Piasa Bird was a Native American dragon, similar to a Manticore or Chimera in Persian and Greek mythology, depicted by an ancient mural on the cliff sides of the Mississippi River. Painted between 900 and 1200 CE, although not surviving today with explorers of the late 17th century recording the increasingly damaged state of the mural due to a native habit of firing weapons at the image, a 1673 description of the so-called Piasa Bird by Father Jacques Marquette detailed a creature “as large as a calf”, with “horns on their heads like those of a deer”, “red eyes”, “a beard like a tiger’s”, “a face somewhat like a man’s”, “a body covered with scales”, and “so long a tail that it winds all around the body…ending in a fish’s tail”.
According to Native legend, the Piasa Bird lived in the nearby cliffs and developed a taste for human flesh after feeding on the corpses of deceased warriors. A brave local chieftain, Ouatoga, and his warriors were able to lure the creature from its nest and slay the beast with poisoned arrows; according to historian John Russell in 1836 the mural, the largest Native American painting ever discovered in North America, was painted in specific commemoration of this event.