8

Were there more “out-of-universe” or “JK Rowling-made-up” magical creature types/species in Harry Potter universe?

By “out-of-universe”, I mean creatures that exist(ed) in folklore/literature/fiction outside of JK Rowling (JKR) books – such as vampires, mermaids, phoenixes, grindylows or dragons (as opposed to kneazles which JKR invented).

In other words, did JKR invent more magical creatures than she borrowed wholesale from other works/folklore?

Clarifications:

  • The answer should be based on precise count as opposed to random estimate.

    Ideally it should include a full list of creatures counted as either “out-of-universe” or “made up”, or at least a reference to existing breakdown.

  • The count needs to include full JKR bestiary – e.g. 7 HP books + supplementals (especially Fantastic Beasts)

  • No need to list anything but the creature's name (e.g. no need for details, which book it's from etc).

  • You can choose to either include or ignore creatures considered mythical/non-existant in-universe, e.g. Nargles; if you include them, it's better if they are tabulated separately.

  • If the creature shares a name with a "real world" magical creature but is very different from any established descriptions, it counts towards JKR-inventions (personally, I don't recall any examples of this outside Garden Gnomes).

  • Plants are out of scope.

  • Real world animals with magical properties (e.g. Nagini as magicked up snake, or the python that Harry spoke to in HP1) are in scope, but obviously count towards "out of universe" column.

  • Real world animals that clearly have no magical properties (e.g. random birds, or dogs in privet drive) are OUT of scope.

  • Mixes/hybrids can be counted however you want as long as you state what you did, unless there are more of them on the list than the margin of difference. (I doubt that there are enough to affect the summary answer). Hermione's half-Kneazle can be counted as a Kneazle.

  • Sentient species (Centaurs/Goblins/Trolls/Giants) are in scope but all of the 4 listed here are clearly not JKR-invented. I don't know if HouseElves as JKR describes them exist in folklore.

  • Those edits definitely clarify this question. I had no idea this was a JKR vs folklore count. – user1027 Jun 7 '12 at 20:04
17

The Wikipedia article on the creatures has a list of "beasts" in Harry Potter.

Parsing the list comes up with 51 "borrowed wholesale" creatures and 43 "JKR creatures". To be fair however, I am certain that most of the "JKR creatures" would best be described as "borrowed, but not entirely" creatures. I am personally not well enough versed in cryptozoology and mythology to tell where a lot of her creatures come from, but a lot seem very similar to other well known creatures, just with different names. From my knowledge however here the list divided into the two subcategories:

The groupings are as follows:

WARNING: A long list follows, feel free to ignore if you don't care about what groupings I chose


"Borrowed Wholesale: Total = 51":

Beings(4):

  1. Goblins
  2. Hags
  3. Humans
  4. Vampires

Beasts(34):

  1. Basilisk
  2. Centaur
  3. Chimaera
  4. Diricrawl (It's a Dodo bird)
  5. Dragon(She creates several "types" but come on, they're all dragons.)
  6. Erlking
  7. Fairy
  8. Ghoul
  9. Gnome
  10. Griffin
  11. Grindylow
  12. Hippocampus
  13. Hippogriff
  14. Imp
  15. Kappa
  16. Kelpie
  17. Leprechaun
  18. Manticore
  19. Merpeople (Again they list different types, but this is a "borrowed" creature.)
  20. Mooncalf
  21. Nundu
  22. Phoenix
  23. Pixie
  24. Ramora
  25. Red cap
  26. Re'em
  27. Salamander
  28. Sea Serpent
  29. Sphinx
  30. Troll (Again different types, same "borrowed" idea.)
  31. Unicorn
  32. Werewolf
  33. Winged Horse (Once again, there are different types but they represent the same borrowed idea.)
  34. Yeti

Spirits(2):

  1. Ghosts
  2. Poltergeists

Status unknown(12):

  1. Banshees
  2. Bicorns
  3. Bugbears
  4. Boggarts
  5. House-elves
  6. Cockatrices
  7. Dwarfs
  8. Fluffy(Cerberus)
  9. Giants
  10. Hinkypunks (Will-o'-the-wisp)
  11. Mummies
  12. Veela (Slavic nymphs)

"Invented Creatures: Total = 43":

Beings(0):

Beasts(42):

  1. Ashwinder
  2. Augurey
  3. Billywig
  4. Blast-Ended Skrewt
  5. Bowtruckle
  6. Bundimun
  7. Chizpurfle
  8. Clabbert
  9. Crup
  10. Demiguise
  11. Doxy
  12. Dugbog
  13. Erumpent
  14. Fire Crab
  15. Fire Slug
  16. Flobberworm
  17. Fwooper
  18. Glumbumble
  19. Graphorn
  20. Horklump
  21. Jarvey
  22. Jobberknoll
  23. Knarl
  24. Kneazle
  25. Lethifold
  26. Lobalug
  27. Mackled Malaclaw
  28. Moke
  29. Murtlap
  30. Niffler
  31. Nogtail
  32. Occamy
  33. Plimpy
  34. Pogrebin
  35. Porlock
  36. Puffskein
  37. Quintaped
  38. Runespoor
  39. Shrake
  40. Snidget
  41. Streeler
  42. Tebo

Spirits(0)

Status unknown(1):

  1. Dementors

Please let me know if you think I have made an error somewhere and I will argue my point until you agree with me endeavor to correct my mistake.

  • Some of the status unknown ones: Cockatrices - I am almost certain I've seen them in Squaresoft's Final Fantasy II game. Banshees are definitely borrowed. Dementors are most certainly JKR invention based on their backstory (they are equivalet of depression) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jun 8 '12 at 0:18
  • @DVK the first half are ones that were borrowed, the second are JKR inventions, so those are in the correct places that you indicate. Cockatrice is certainly a borrowed idea. – NominSim Jun 8 '12 at 6:48
  • 1
    @balancedmama AFAIK A Cockatrice is born from an egg laid by a cockerel, hatched under a toad, vs. the Basilisk being born from the egg of a toad, hatched under a cockerel. They are different creatures, but nearly the same in most accounts. I listed them separately as the Wikipedia article sourced in the answer as a list of Harry Potter creatures also listed them separately. I assumed that Cockatrices must appear in Magical Beasts or some other non-septology canon. – NominSim Jan 17 '13 at 1:38
  • According to my sources the Basilisk is born of an egg laid by a cockerel and hatched by a toad. Pretty sure that is how "Herpo" made one as described my Magical Beasts and Where to Find them too. So, now I'm really interested in finding out more. The two terms are both used in different translations of the same verse in The Bible, plus various other sources had led me to believe them the same. I have seen them referred to as different by others, though, but had never found a reason why. I'll definitely have to look at that one up. I'm interested in your source for the difference. – balanced mama Jan 17 '13 at 5:57
  • I found this, "Cockatrice became seen as synonymous with basilisk when the basiliscus in Bartholomeus Anglicus' De proprietatibus rerum (ca 1260) was translated by John Trevisa as cockatrice (1397).[4] A basilisk, however, is usually depicted without wings." on Wikipedia, but it is on the same article that describes them as also being mortal enemies as seen by people before the Early Middle Ages. Both are said to hatch from a cock's or chicken's egg incubated by a toad. So... Different, but not for the reasons you state. – balanced mama Jan 17 '13 at 6:06

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