The Merhorse is a mythical creature that combines the upper body of a horse with the lower body of a fish, similar to the way mermaids are combinations of human women and fish. Creatures resembling the Merhorse are common in the folklore of many ancient cultures.
Common Names: Merhorse, Hippocampus, Hippocamp, Sea-Horse
The Merhorse’s other name, “Hippocampus” is derived from the Greek words for “horse” and “sea monster”. Half-horse, half-fish hybrid creatures appear in the mythology of many ancient cultures, including the Greeks, Romans, Phoenicians, Etruscans, and Picts. Sometimes the creatures are depicted with wings, though not always.
In Greek and Roman mythology, Merhorses are associated with Poseidon (called Neptune in Ancient Rome). Poseidon is the god of horses, earthquakes, and the sea. Merhorses are often shown pulling his chariot.
In medieval times, the Merhorse was used as a symbol featured on heraldry, called the “sea-horse”. It was also a common motif in Renaissance art.
Some ancient cultures believed that the Hippocampus was the adult form of the animal we know today as the seahorse. In fact, we still use the term Hippocampus as the scientific name for the seahorse! Hippocampus is also a name for a part of the brain, which plays an important role in memory and navigation. It was so named due to its similarity in shape to the seahorse.