"I made this half-pony half-monkey monster to please you, But I get the feeling that you don't like it. What's with all the screaming? You like monkeys, you like ponies. Maybe you don't like monsters so much. Maybe I used too many monkeys. Isn't it enough to know that I ruined a pony making a gift for you?"
A common way of making monsters or fantastic creatures is to simply take existing animals and combine their parts. For instance, the Chimera (lion head, goat body, snake tail) or the Minotaur (bull head, human body). Also common is to simply take an existing animal and vary it a simple way - Pegasus is a horse, but with wings, hippocampi have the heads and front bodies of horses but the tails of fish, etc.
Compare Fusion Dance and Two Beings, One Body, which is when two characters are combined. Mix-and-Match Critters may be the result of Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action. If both creatures are already mythological/magical/whatever and get mixed, they have a newborn Hybrid Monster and if mundane they can end up with a Patchwork Kid. Application of the principle to humans may count as Bio-Augmentation, see also Mix-and-Match Man.
The world of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is populated with creatures ranging from the apparently delicious Molepig, to the truly bizarre Grapehippo◊. The Grapehippo is the director's favorite character.
Several animals in Tower of God, most notably the Bull, an amphibian bipedal flounder-like predator with skin flaps like a gliding lizard and a lure like an anglerfish, the Barnacle Goblin, a creature with a crocodiles head and a humanoid body that sprouts giant barcnacles from it's back and the Mangdol Whales, extremely cute mixes of dolphins and seals.
The Chimera Ants in Hunter × Hunter are like this, as the queen can spawn soldier/grunts with traits from any creature she has consumed. And by the end of the arc, she has consumed pretty much an entire country's worth of animal life, and it's almost impossible to tell just how much of what creature went into her final creations. Hunter × Hunter also has naturally-occurring fox-bears and spider-eagles.
In an early episode of One Piece, Luffy and his crew stumble upon an island full of creatures like this, including a fox with a coxcomb and rooster's tail, a pig with a lion's mane, and a snake with rabbit ears.
Also, some of the undead creatures sewn up by Dr. Hogback during the Thriller Bark arc. One example is the one to whom Sanji's shadow was transferred: a penguin with the head of a dog.
Even in less extreme situations, Mix and Match Critters are fairly common, at least in appearance, in One Piece. i.e., the Panshark (shark with panda markings), and bananawani (a large crocodile with a banana shaped growth on the head). It even becomes a Running Gag that Luffy will call these creatures the name of the animal or thing they look least like (that is, pandas and bananas.)
Violinist of Hameln presents Guitar, an anthropomorphic dog that, almost like a centaur, is a deer from the waist down. As in, an entire deer, four legs, head, and tail, is connected to his waist. Hamel, being either unusually obtuse or merely true to form, misunderstood the head peeking out from Guitar's "groin" as something else entirely, to Guitar's annoyance and Flute's embarrassment. Worse, when he suggested that Guitar wear pants, the image of the enormous BULGE (caused by the deer's head) under the warrior's waist horrified Flute.
In Naruto, the three-tail beast is a cross between a turtle and a prawn (most noticeably its tails), while the eight-tailed is a giant bull with octopus tentacles for "tails" and large humanoid arms. We see in an artbook that the Five-Tails is a dolphin-horse.
Manda 2, a modified clone of Manda made by Kabuto is a combination of several different kinds of snakes: a pit viper's head, cobra's hood, and a rattlesnakes tail. It also has eagle-like claws, much the same as the traditional Eastern dragon.
Fullmetal Alchemist has chimeras, which are regular animals alchemically combined. And sometimes they talk. The disturbing part about this is that a talking chimera requires fusing a human with an animal.
Chimairamon of Digimon Adventure 02 is based on the mythical chimera, and it shows. Several other species fall under this on a less extreme scale, with other obvious ones generally the product of a Fusion Dance.
All the Tenchi Muyo! series and spinoffs contain Ryo-Ohki, a cat-rabbit hybrid, often referred to as a "cabbit". Tenchi Muyo GXP also contains a second cabbit, named Fuku. Tenchi Universe has Ken-Ohki, a male cabbit who ends up as Ryo-Ohki's boyfriend.
Plenty of Berserk's Apostles and other monsters can be described as these, ranging from Zodd (Bull/tiger/ape) to the ogres (giant humanoids with sperm whale snouts and elephant tusks) to the trolls (Rat/monkey/pig). Then there's the Pisacha, they look like those sea monsters from old sea maps, with elephant trunks, made by mutating a whale.
The Beast in Disney's Beauty and the Beast has the mane of a lion, the beard and head of a buffalo, the brows of a gorilla, the eyes of a human, the tusks of a wild boar, the body of a bear, and the hind legs and tail of a wolf.
The "Dronkeys" (as they are officially called) first made their appearance in a Post Credits Scene at the end of Shrek 2 to explain why Dragon had been gone for most of the film.
Donkey even lampshades their appearance. "Look at our adorable mutant babies!"
Q: The Winged Serpent has the head of a vulture, feathered wings, a snake-like tail, and four limbs sort of like an iguana. On top of that, Q is meant to be the dragon-god Quetzelcoatl... and doesn't really look like him either.
Sharktopus! Heck, Sci-Fi Channel original movies tend to run on these, to the point where there almost appears to be a competition as to which movie features the most ludicrous monster. (Mansquito, Sharkodile, ad infinitum.)
And the wonderful Bat-Rat-Spider-Crab-Monkey creature in The Angry Red Planet, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like.
Star Wars has a few. Most notably Hutts, who are slugs with small arms. Also Toydarians, who look like giant mosquitos...sort of. And Jar Jar is a frog with eyestalks.
Frankenweenie (the animated movie) has Mr. Whiskers fused with a bat near the end.
The Croods (examples) is loaded with prehistoric animals that look like tiny elephant/mice, small wolf/crocodiles, large ostrich/rams, giant mammoth/rabbits, birds that look like turtles, a saber-toothed tiger with a parrot's colors, and (of course) a bear with the face of an owl. There's also an animal that looks like a gourd but has a load of sharp teeth.
Quite why Dreamworks couldn't use real prehistoric animals is a mystery...
Word of God explains the setting of the film as a fictitious era called the Croodaceous, which was an "awkward puberty period of evolution" where nature was trying really weird things.
The children's book Scranimals is about an island filled with these. Some are straight-up animal-animal combinations, but the majority are half-animal, half-fruit (or half-vegetable). Examples include the broccolion, the radishark, the orangeutan, and the ostricheetah.
In the Discworld novel Eric, the demon-god Quetzovercoatl is described as "half-man, half-chicken, half-jaguar, half-serpent, half-scorpion and half-mad".
Making for "a wossname total of three homicidal maniacs."
Discworld also has the chimera in Sourcery. Unlike the Greek version, the Disc's chimera has the legs of a mermaid, the hair of a tortoise, the teeth of a fowl and the wings of a snake. It's similar to the Greek chimera in having the breath of a furnace, and the temperament of a rubber balloon in a hurricane.
From Going Postal: It was said that there was one horse in Ankh-Morpork that had a longitudinal seam from head to tail, being sewn together from what was left of two horses that had been involved in a particularly nasty accident.
And in The New Discworld Companion, it's mentioned that many of the animals kept at the College of Heralds are descended from previous generations of heraldic models, who'd gotten rather friendly with one another. And it shows.
In Mary Stanton's novels, Anor, a demon in horse mythology, is a red horse with feline eyes, claws, and fangs, and an appetite for red meat.
The Dark Tower had several: Billy-bumblers combined traits of a raccoon, a badger, and a dog. Taheen looked like humans with the heads of birds. The Low Men looked like humans with rodent-like heads — they usually wore masks and tried to pass as humans. Then there's the "lobstrosities", who were half-frog, half-lobster humanoids.
The lobstrosities - 50% frog, 50% lobster, and 100% delicious.
Not sure what book you guys were reading, but the lobstrosities were ALL lobster, and not humanoid, just very large, with odd vocalizations. Also, the taheen were not only birds. In fact, Finli O'Tego, one of the main antagonists in the final books, was a weasel.
It's also unclear if the billy-bumbler is an actual Mix-and-Match Critter, as opposed to a fictional animal that happens to share a few traits with those Real Life animals.
Michael Moorcock got into the act too. His Elric of Melniboné stories included the clakar (winged apes), Dharzi hunting dogs (half dog, half bird), myyrrhn (a winged Half-Human Hybrid) and vulture lions (vulture head, lion body).
Othello Bach's Whoever Heard of a Fird? has the title character, Fird, who is a fird (part fish, part bird). Aside from Snyder Spider and the Boogie Monsters, the rest of the cast is entirely two-feature creatures: dickens (part dog, part chickens), hyenant (hyena/ant), woose (worm/goose), shamels (sheep/camel) dryders (dragon/spider), the Blizard (bird/lizard), burtles (bear/turtle), Ms. Girouse (giraffe/mouse), the snoose (snake/mongoose), and, finally, bishes (part bird, part fish). There's also talk of a snog (snail/hog), and the sequel includes a snig (snail/pig). Oh, and almost the entire cast exercises a healthy Arbitrary Skepticism, seeing as they're convinced that there's no such thing as a fird.
There was also a very short-lived line of stuffed toys by Remco based upon these characters, which identified these hybrid creatures as "Firffels". Coincidentally - or not - they arrived around the same time the Wuzzles toy line was launched (this blog post has a few pictures and was written by someone who had no idea they were based on a book).
Piers Anthony has quite a lot of these. In his Apprentice Adept series, he uses classical mythology. His Dragon's Gold books feature multiple hybrids.
And, of course, who can forget Xanth. Aside from "ordinary" creatures like centaurs or harpies, there are also things like flying centaurs, half-demon anything, winged mermaids, and mer-nagas. If all that is not enough for you, how about a half-car, half-harpy?
In another Piers Anthony book every animal in an Alternate Universe is one of these except dragons and possibly froogs. This leads to things such as bearvers and meer.
True History (from around 170 AD) mentions "horse-vultures" among the armies of the Moon King.
Dune has the Bene Tleilaxu's Sligs - slugs and pigs genetically mashed together. Apparently it makes the meat tender and succulent.
Oryx and Crake has quite a few including wolvogs (genetically modified wolf/dogs designed for home defense), the spoat/gider (a goat with spider genes, used for the production of high-strength fiber), and the snat, described as "an unfortunate combination of snake and rat" (apparently both lethal and testy).
Jack Chalker's Well World is filled to the brim with semi-mythological mix-and-match critters, justified as the result of lazy alien species designers cribbing each others' work. Meanwhile, the mix-and-match critters from mythology are justified as legends and "racial memories" stemming from our own species' creation on the Well World.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and its sequels had such creatures as the Winged Monkeys, the Kalidahs (part tiger, part bear) and the Li-Mon-Eags (lion, monkey, and eagle, with donkey tails). Not to mention the Gump (made from two couches, some palm fronds, a broom, and a taxidermed stag head).
The Draka's ghouloons, who are constructed from the genes of a baboon, a dog, and a human. They are actually sentient, and used as Cannon Fodder. To some extent, the post-humanHomo Drakensis race itself qualifies, as the Draka used traces of feline DNA to increase muscle strength and sense acuity.
Most of the animals on Skeeve's home dimension of Klah, from the Myth Adventures series, appear to be this trope, at least to judge by their names (e.g. 'spider-bear').
In Leviathan, something like half the countries in Europe rely on these for the vast majority of their technology.
The Mock Turtle in Alice in Wonderland is supposed to be "the thing Mock Turtle Soup is made from." In Real Life, that would be a calf's head, so Tenniel's illustration gave the Mock Turtle one, with hooves and tail to match, placed on the body of a turtle.
Most of the main characters in Maximum Ride are some variety of this.
There are six kids with wings and the ability to fly hundreds of kilometres. On top of that, one six-year-old can also breathe underwater, speak to fish, change her appearance at will and read and control minds. The kids were all created by lab experiments and claim to be only 2% bird (as if that made any more sense). All of the members of the "Flock" also have powers not related to birds at all, with the possible exception of Max with her super speed. Apparently she's part falcon.
Even if you don't count the human/avian and human/lupine hybrids, there are still the Krelp. Not to mention some... interesting creatures given rather more detail in the "manga" version.
Graeme Base's Truck Dogs features dogs with vehicle body parts.
The book Catbirds and Dogfish actually featured these as Visual Puns.
Some of the insects in the Bugs in a Box series pop-up books by David A. Carter appear to be either vertebrate animals, plants, or inanimate objects with insect body parts.
The Wingdingdilly, which is about a dog that was turned into a chimera as a result of a magic spell cast upon him by a witch.
Although the main character of The Chronicles of Professor Jack Baling initially assumes the insect/shrimp creature at the end of the second episode is the combination of several different animals, it’s actually just a modified mantis shrimp . Although, the name makes it clear that they do resemble a combination of those two animals.
Glatisaunt the Questing Beast, as described by Sir Thomas Malory in Le Morte d'Arthur: "The questing beast had in shape and head like a serpent’s head, and a body like a libard, buttocks like a lion, and footed like a hart; and in his body there was such a noise as it had been the noise of thirty couple of hounds questing." (Also quoted by T.H. White in The Once and Future King.)
Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga has Taura, a genetically engineered remnant of a Super Soldier project, with horse genes somewhere in there (among others). She's friendly, cheerful and her favourite colour is pink, but she's also eight feet tall and looks quite a lot like a werewolf. People tend to misjudge her on these grounds.
Some of the Remade from China Miéville's Bas-Lag Cycle are this trope, sentenced by the New Crobuzon courts to have parts of animals, or occasionally of human cadavers, magically incorporated into their bodies as a punishment. Occasionally someone has similar modifications done voluntarily, to acquire useful features such as functional gills.
Mr. Motley is an extreme Mix and Match Critter, incorporating so many mismatched limbs, eyes, mouths, and miscellaneous appendages into the same freakish body that, when Lin is hired to sculpt a statue of him, she can scarcely imagine how anyone could possibly begin such a task.
In the Paradox Universe many Pelted species have more than just humans and one other species in their ancestry:
Naysha combined the sturdiness of wolves with the delicacy of foxes, the strength of orcas and the agility and intelligence of dolphins. As well as a number of other deep-sea denizens and coral fishes for color.
Seersa look mostly like anthropomorphic foxes with feline coat patterns (jaguar rosettes for instance).
Aera have the DNA of foxes, mongooses, big cats, humans, and deer, they mostly look feline except for the tiny wings on their ankles.
Ciracaana have cat-like lower bodies and canine upper bodies.
Glaseah look mostly like skunk-taurs with a pair of bat wings and outer ears composed of feathers.
On Dr Franklins Island, the doctor has spent a long time inserting human genes into animal subjects, a few of which the viewpoint character gets to see - a capybara with human lips and back legs, piglets with hands, an octopus with a monkeylike head, parrots with patches of human skin and floppy boneless bits of hands, bats with human legs, deer with weird heads, a jungle cat whose brain changed which howls. His assistant says the changes can be "random".
Also, since monsters in Merlin tend to be creatures from medieval heraldry or Arthurian legends, Mix-and-Match Critters appear at least twice a season.
Power Rangers has had a few, since because of the rubber suit, all of them have to be humanoid. Most notable is one in the first season, right after Tommy joined, that was part turtle and part...traffic light?
No, my Chimpangoat's not the prettiest of creatures
My Donkeypede has the silliest of features
My lobsterroos don't like their claws
My Batraffes do fly into doors
The Chimera (who resembles a three-headed monster with the head of a lion, the body of a goat, and the tail of a serpent) is probably the most prominent of these, to the extent that a number of works of fiction use "Chimera" as a generic term for Mix And Match Critters of all sorts.
In addition to the Chimera, we have the Minotaur, the Sphinx, the griffin, Harpies, centaurs, Pegasus, Sleipnir (although he's a mash-up of a horse and... another horse), Cerberus (who sometimes had a snake for a tail), the unicorn...
Some scientists believe that the dragon is itself a mix-and-match creature that was deeply ingrained into our psychology through evolution, which would explain why so many different cultures feature some kind of dragon. The theory states that the dragon is a combination of mankind's animal enemies. The body comes from dangerous snakes and other reptiles. The maw comes from big cats. The talons come from birds of prey. The wings come from bats, etc.
As for fire, animals instinctively fear fire. Humans have largely conquered that fear by conquering fire, but it still crept into the subconscious.
Legend has it that the distinctive Chinese dragon was created when the first emperor took the heraldic animals of the states he had conquered and sintered parts of them together: horns from a deer, wings from an eagle, tail from a snake and so on.
Many works of fantasy using these exact same mythological creatures.
They also saw extensive use in heraldry, along with many other Mix-and-Match Critters that lacked a basis in classic myth.
The Peluda was a dragon from France that had the head, neck, and tail of a snake, the body of a green porcupine, and the feet of a turtle. Much nastier than it sounds - it could breathe acid and fire, its quills were toxic and could be flicked at prey, had a special taste for young women and children and the only way to kill it was cutting off its tail.
The Egyptian gods are often depicted as humans with animal heads.
Parodied in Discworld, "Gods are human-shaped. Even Offler the crocodile god is only crocodile headed. Ask humans to imagine an animal god and they'll come up with someone in a really bad mask."
Ammut the Devourer was depicted as having the head of a crocodile, the forequarters of a leopard or lioness, and the hindquarters of a hippopotamus — three vicious and deadly creatures (Hippos, while vegetarian, are incredibly strong and fiercely territorial, and responsible for more deaths in Africa than lions). Jackal-headed Anubis weighed your heart against the Feather of Truth: if it was heavier, he'd toss it to Ammut.
Two-headed dogs seem to be very common, possibly as a lesser version of Cerberus. They are already present in Greek Mythology, e.g. Geryon's watchdog Orthus from the tale of Heracles.
Most of the monsters from Greek myth were siblings. That is, all those that didn't have some other origin story were.
Both Orthus and Cerberus must have been insanely jealous of three of their other siblings: the Khimera, the Lernaean Hydra that started out with nine heads and could generate more, and Ladon, a dragon with 100 heads. At least they beat out the Nemean Lion (not Mix and Match) and the Sphinx (indeed Mix and Match).
Both of whom are beaten out by daddy dearest, Typhon, who had a hundred serpent's heads—ON EACH HAND.
Actually, in some sources, Orthrys wasn't Kerberos's brother...well, not full brother. He was his half-brother...and father (Ekidne was mother to them both).
In a deliberate subversion, 16th-century Italian author Ludovico Ariosto created the hippogriff — a beast that is part griffin and part horse — for his epic Orlando Furioso as a joke on a line from the Roman poet Virgil which used "when griffins are mated with horses" as a synonym for "impossible" or "never". Although it never was truly "mythological" it is considered so today.
One of Dream's three guards in The Sandman is described as a hippogriff but is drawn as a Pegasus-type winged horse.
Card game Munchkin also has a hippogriff - a hippo with small fangs and two small wings.
Older Than Dirt: The earliest civilizations, such as Sumer, the Indus Valley, Minoan Crete, and Ancient Egypt, had various mix-and-match beasts such as griffins, lamassu, leogryphs, serpopards, sirrush, and winged snakes. The early Sumerians had gods that were part man and part fish. And some sculptures found in villages older than the first cities also reflect this motif.
The alicorn, pegasus crossed with unicorn, goes back to ancient Greek descriptions of "Ethiopian Pegasoi."
The Shedu / Lamassu of ancient Sumeria were heavenly protective deities with the head of a man or woman, wings, and the body of bull or lion and were seen as servants of higher gods and protectors of households. Historians believe they later had a large influence on the creation of the lore about the sphinx, Arabian Djinn, Judeo-Christian Angels (particularly the Cherubs), and the worldwide practice of placing gargoyles on buildings. Also, one of Gilgamesh's greatest feats was defeating Isthar's pet Shedu.
From the Book of Revelation, chapter 13:1 "And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. 2 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority."
And from the Book of Ezekiel, Chapter 1:5-11 5 "Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. 6 And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. 7 And their feet were straight  feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf's foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass. 8 And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings. 9 Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward. 10 As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle. 11 Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched  upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies."
Ezekiel 41:18-19 18 "And it was made with cherubim and palm trees, so that a palm tree was between a cherub and a cherub; and every cherub had two faces; 19 So that the face of a man was toward the palm tree on the one side, and the face of a young lion toward the palm tree on the other side: it was made through all the house round about."
The Tikbalang from Philippine mythology is a mix of horse and human. It has the body of a man and the head and feet of a horse. Its legs are so long that when it sits down, its knees are above its head. Some legends also give it a mane of spikes. Find the right one and you can control the beast and ride it through the sky.
A Chinese dragon is said to have the head of a camel, horns of a deer, eyes of a demon, neck of a snake, belly of a clam, scales of a carp, claws of an eagle, palms of a tiger, and ears of a cow.
The Ars Goetia portrays many of the demons bound by Ham and Solomon as manifesting in this way. Examples are Zagan and Haagenti (gryphon-winged bulls...although how you're supposed to tell those are gryphon wings and not eagle wings is anyone's guess), Marchosias (she-wolf with a snake's tail and gryphon wings), and Ipos (lion with a goose's feet and head and a hare's tail).
In German, there's the common term of the Eierlegende Wollmilchsau or egg laying wool-milk-sow, the holy grail of farmers and by extension any manufacturing business. One animal (or product) that produces absolutely everything and adresses anything the customer might wish for. Some people made pictures of it◊.
The worst of all? The Tarasque. It had the head of a lion, the body of a bull, the shell of a tortoise covered in spikes, six bear legs, and the tail of a serpent with a fish's fin. Doesn't much look like its D&D counterpart.
Hindu Mythology brings us the makara, a sea creature with the body of a crocodile, the trunk of an elephant, the paws of a lion, and the tail of a fish with a peacock's feathers at the end of it. Some versions also add a boar's tusks, a monkey's eyes, or a stag's antlers. And if that wasn't enough, it's also often depicted with a serpent emerging from its mouth. And yes, that is where they got the name from.
In Japanese Mythology there is a chimerical creature called the nue, with the body of a dog, the legs of a tiger, the face of a baboon, the tail of a snake, and the voice of a thrush. Famously the Emperor Konoe suffered nightmares, and one of his servants noticed a black cloud hanging over the palace. The servant shot an arrow at the cloud and out of it fell the monstrous nue.
Bloom County had Rosebud the basselope, a basset hound/antelope mix. A tryst with Hodge-podge resulted in, of course, Jackabasselopes.
Woody Allen describing the Great Roe, which has "the head of a lion and the body of a lion, although not the same lion".
Mocked by comedian Demetri Martin in his "visual enhancers" act, in which he declared that you could make a fantasy animal by taking any existing animal and adding wings. He gave as examples Pegasus (horse) and the griffin (lion)... and then a hawk, displaying a picture of a four-winged hawk saying "I'm awkward."
Further parodied when he suggested creatures no one ever heard about, like a mermaid that's half fish but split vertically instead of horizontally. Another was the "Zebratard" who was 1/2 zebra, 1/2 hawk, 1/2 pig and thus was an improper fraction.
Look at an old Dungeons & DragonsMonster Manual sometime. The Displacer Beast (a six-legged panther with tentacles on its shoulders that is never where you see it; interestingly, it was derived from Coeurl, the villain of a 1920s/1930s sci-fi short story) and Owlbear (guess!) spring to mind. The new Monster Manuals continue this fine tradition with such gems as the Howler Wasp (half-wasp, half-monkey) and Yak-People.
A few more examples: some were specifically stated to be the result of wizard experiments, some had no origin given.
Chimera (1/3 red dragon, 1/3 lion and 1/3 giant goat... yeah, you heard me)
Dracolisk (half black dragon, half basilisk)
Gorgimera (1/3 red dragon, 1/3 lion, 1/3 gorgon)
Griffon (half lion, half eagle)
Hippogriff (half horse, half eagle)
Thoul (1/3 troll, 1/3 hobgoblin, 1/3 ghoul)
That's not the worst of it. One article on this in Dragon Magazine has armadillephant, dragonfly turtle, duckbunny, moat cat (newt+puma), spider-horse, and venom dog (mastiff+scorpion). Why duckbunny? Just because it's a good idea to practice with something less deadly than owlbears.
Possibly it's a reference to an optical illusion (see Real Life above).
As of 3rd Edition, templates made it easy for DMs to Mix And Match their own custom-made game critters.
The cavalcade of "Half-Something" templates combined with the weird sense of humor gamers tend to have ensures that whatever can be spawned with D&D 3+ tools will be spawned. Whatever cannot be spawned, thanks to the stated rules, will be spawned anyway — but put in separate cage with the disclaimer "it cannot be made because of rules, but if it could, it would be like that". The clear implication being that nothing but limitations in rules prevents things like the Half-Dragon Werewolf, the Ooze Vampire, or the Angel/Demon.
A Prestige Class, the Master Transmogrifier in 3.5 can do this, combining the traits of at least two creatures when using a polymorph or shapechange spell, such as combining a squid's tentacles with a dragon.
The Fighting Fantasy gamebook Citadel of Chaos featured two monsters: one with a wolf's head and an ape's body, the other precisely the reverse.
The Phelddagrif, mind, is a deliberate in-joke. Its name is an anagram of 'Garfield, Ph. D.' after the creator of Magic. That said, Magic has played with the 'build your own creature from individual parts' concept from time to time — the chimeras from Visions come to mind, for one.
This is actually the point of auras and equipment, but auras have the unfortunate card disadvantage, in that, yes, putting Holy Strength on your Benalish Hero takes its toughness up to three, but a Lightning Bolt (which does three damage) will kill it and your Holy Strength, whereas if you'd played (say) another creature, you'd still have a creature.
Magic also has pegasi, merfolk, human/elephant loxodons, human/lion leonin, human/tiger nacatl (nacatli?), human/bird aven (and Winged Humanoid angels), werewolves (which are a major race in Innistrad), and, anything in Phyrexia, such as Tsabo's spidery cybernetic legs. When Phyrexia is done, you will be an example as well.
The Alien Wars supplement for 5th edition Hero System gives us the Xenovores, originally created via genetic manipulation to survive a nuclear holocaust no matter what. If they encounter a new race that has a potentially useful trait, expect a new subrace of Xenovores to show up soon with that trait.
The tizn'ts of Low Life are sentient mashups of... pretty much anything. The race's name comes from an attempt to categorize them, as in: "Tizn't a Bodul, tizn't a Horc, tizn't a toy car, tizn't a rubber ducky, tizn't a..."
The forms of most werecreatures in Werewolf: The Apocalypse are pretty straightforward man/beast in varying proportions (usually man->man with animal traits->three metre tall animal-man that bites people's heads off->dire animal->animal). The werelizards subvert this a little, since their warform isn't your generic human/crocodile mix, but a customizable chimera of various contemporary, prehistoric or not-at-all-historic scaled monstrosities. The chapter detailing the rules might as well be titled "Kaiju Creation For Dummies".
BIONICLE had the Rahi Nui, a critter who we only know by its description, since it was never released as a toy. Nevertheless, the animals that make it up were available at one time, so we can guess what it might look like: its head is that of a Kane-Ra bull, it has the body and back legs of a Muaka tiger (which doesn't actually have back legs), the powerful arms of a Tarakava lizard, the wings of a Nui-Rama wasp and the stinger tail of a Nui-Jaga scorpion.
'Magna Morph' toys are animals made of separate body parts held together by magnets, and so can be disassembled and reassembled into interesting combinations. Stephen Colbert pointed out that the set includes a grizzly bear and a bald eagle, which means it's theoretically possible to create a Greagle - "Aah! Kill it! Kill it!"
According to the back-story of the Jurassic Park 'Chaos Effect' toy line, InGen hybridized various extinct species (whose genetic material was presumably just lying around) because why the hell not? Most fans disliked the premise and considered this a "very ugly" toy line (the garish paint jobs didn't help), but they did have a cult following.
Somehow they combined a Pteranodon with an Ankylosaurus and made it awesome. Other creatures in the series include:
And the impressively ridiculous "Ultimasaurus", which is essentially the most fearsome parts of every nonhuman Jurassic Park resident combined. The toy was never produced, but fanart of the critter can be seen in Iririv's gallery below and here.
Finally, someone was nice enough to devote a deviantART page to the overlooked toy series.
Disney's The Wuzzles, somehow making insect/mammal creatures cute and cuddly, rather than an unholy vision from H.R. Giger's nightmares.
The Pikmin games have the Snagrets, which have the heads of a bird and the bodies of a snake. The Pikmin themselves are plant and animal hybrids.
Dingodile and Rilla Roo of the Crash Bandicoot series, both anthropomorphic, are near-equal parts dingo and crocodile, and gorilla and kangaroo, respectively.
The now-defunct epilogue of Crash Team Racing said that Dingodile went on to form him own highly successful business which made even more of them, including the Gir-Bat, Kanga-Rooster and Dingo-Rilla. "Combine them all", indeed.
Crash of the Titans and Crash: Mind over Mutant have mix and match critters in the form of the mutants. Examples of such are the Scorporilla (Scorpion/Gorilla), the Snipe (Fox/Tropical Bird) the Rhinoroller (Rhino/Armadillo) and the Battler...which is half Bat, half Switch Blade!
Many creatures in Jak and Daxter. One of the main characters is an ottsel (otter-weasel), and there are yakows (yak-cow), crocadogs (crocodile-dog), monkaws (monkey-macaw) and hiphogs (hippo-hog) running around.
MOTHER 3 provides the page image, with some of its many Chimarae; bio-engineered animal hybrids that are the standard mooks for most of the game. Some of the crazier ones, like the Cattlesnake and Pigtunia, aren't shown in the above image.
The Legend of Zelda has several in each incarnation such as Wolfos (wolf human hybrids) Lizalfos, Dinolfos and Aeralfos (lizard men of various shapes and sizes), the Zora (fish men) and their descendants the Rito (bird men).
Variation occurs in Sonic Adventure 1 & 2, where the Chao develop physical traits similar to the small animals fed to them (bunny ears, peacock crest, tiger arms...). Neutral and Dark "Run Type" Chao resemble Sonic and Shadow respectively, with blue or black striped head spines. Also, it's possible to make one look like freakin' CHAOS.
The Sonic the Hedgehog series also has Fang the sniper (aka Nack the Weasel), who is a purple-furred bounty hunter and is (in Japan anyway) half weasel, and half wolf. He is sometimes referred to as a "weasel-wolf" by fans.
The online game Dragon Fable inflicted the Dreaded Chickencow upon the world. Head, wings, breast, and front legs of a chicken, hindquarters of a cow; all of which adds up to the meat industries' dreams manifested in flesh.
The Final Fantasy series features mole-bats, or moguri, known in English as Moogles. The fact that they end up looking more like teddy bears than anything else can be chalked up to the Rule of Cute. InIvalice, though, moogles tend to look more like a half-bunny, half-bat.
Minecraft has the Mooshroom mob, which is a red-and-white half-cow, half-mushroom.
Warcraft games contain many mythological mix and match critters, such as gryphons, hippogryphs and chimaeras. Then there are wyverns, which are lions with batlike wings and scorpion tails (The "wyvern" name is odd since these beings are clearly manticores), magnataurs (essentially a wooly mammoth centaur) and zhevras(zebras with a small horn on their forehead). There's also creatures that look mostly like real-world ones but with few parts added, like giraffes with gazelle-style horns and crocolisks (6-legged crocodiles).
Bowser is commonly confused to be a dragon-turtle, but he's actually designed to be an ox-turtle. Miyamoto originally envisioned him to be an ox, but his staff convinced him to make Bowser a turtle instead. Bowser's final design merged the two creatures.
In Billy Hatcher and The Giant Egg, the hatchable animals include a kangaroo/lion, a sheep/camel/ostritch, a monkey/bat, a cheetah/gazelle, and a rhino/bird...thing.
Of course, several Pokémon, especially plant/animal hybrids under the Grass type. To give an example, Sharpedo is a shark with the body of an ocean sunfish.
Aion's natural wildlife would fit right at home with the Woozles or Avatar: The Last Airbender ; amongst the combination seen in the game: Faurons (ram/wilderbeasts), Airons (crane/peacocks), Brax (boar/bison), Snufflers (armadillo/elephant), Sparkies (beetle/firefly), and of course, pangolin squirrels.
Klonoa himself. Combine one part cat, one part dog, one part rabbit, and sixteen parts cute.
Popka, who is half dog, half insect, and also appears to be part stuffed animal too.
Gauntlet: Dark Legacy's Chimera: A lion's body with dragon wings and eagle talons instead of claws, with three heads: A snake, a lion, and an eagle, to correlate with the three types of Gargoyles and their elements (Poison, Fire, and Electricity, respectively.)
In Return to Mysterious Island, Mina must get past a sea creature with a crocodile-like head and a shark's body. Possibly it's meant to be an ichthyosaur, but if so, the designers put its tail on upside-down.
In Gokujou Parodius, the first boss is a tutu-wearing panda with a duck's head on top of its own.
The Katamari series (specifically We ♥ Katamari and Katamari Forever) has the Cowbear (infamous for being one of the harder items to roll up) which consists of the upper half of a bear and the lower half of a cow.
In Heroes of Might and Magic V and VI, mix and match critters can be created in two ways: they're either Half Human Hybrids known as 'beastmen' who were created by wizard's experiments, or two species can become fused by the powerful magic present in a dragon-vein (griffins are believed to have been created in this manner).
In Tales of the Abyss, we have rappigs: pigs with soft pink fur and rabbit ears. Emperor Peony keeps several as pets (and apparently also gives them as gifts to people he likes, at least according to one sidequest). They appear to be the size of real-life pigs in the game, but The Anime of the Game shows them being closer to the size of a small dog.
Tales of Xillia clarifies this. Rappigs are biologically rabbits that look like pigs, and introduces a new species, Piggits, which are biologically pigs that look like rabbits. Naturally, due to a mix of convergent evolution and using the same character model, they look exactly the same.
The fifth boss of Chimera Beast resembles a green-coloured cross between a lion and a boar.
Muut from Gunnerkrigg Court is shown as a human with the head and feet of an owl (the original character from Cahuilla Native American myth was just a giant owl). Gunnerkrigg Court has also featured the classical Minotaur as a character.
Inverloch had D'akor: furry, humanoid goat-wolves.
Sarah Ellerton's followup project, The Phoenix Requiem, also has Dakor. This time, she left out the humanoid and just made wolves with goat horns.
Triquetra Cats takes this trope to the extreme with Splio Beasts — animals which are ultimately the genetic crossbreed of every known member of the animal kingdom all mixed into one.
In Irritability, Exoth keeps a stock of modular chimaera parts in one of his labs that can just be snapped together.
El Goonish Shive with its chimerae and Shapeshiftingdevices which is taken to another level involuntarily with Vlad/Vladia being created from DNA from several bats, owls, hawks and even a leopard in addition to human and an alien and voluntarily with Grace who can mix and match aspects from any and all of her continually growing number of forms. Also, this critter in filler.
Homestuck: Mooks encountered in the Medium (imps, ogres, basilisks, etc) assume various combinations of features (and included powers) from the players' prototyped sprites when they enter; in the kids' session it's a mix of harlequin outfits from Nannaquin, wings and a sword from Seppukrow, cat features and tentacles from Jaspers, dog features and various levels of Reality Warper powers from Becquerel. The royalty of Prospit and Derse take on all the prototyped features at once through their Requisite Royal Regalia, and any Prospitian or Dersite can use said regalia. This is taken to an extreme in the trolls' session when they accumulate twelve separate prototype features including some nearly gamebreaking psychic abilities that made the Black King almost unbeatable.
Humanimals, one of Hussie's earlier works, was entirely devoted to exploring this trope and all its potential Mundane Utility implications — as well as subtle, playful satire of Furry Fandom. Equius's lusus Aurthour and some of Dirk's work are a Shout-Out to this.
Spontaneous Combustion has Swift, Gabriella, and the recently announced "badger-squirrels" that are all animal combinations. Swift is a variety of fast creatures (cats and rodents can be seen) and Gabriella is an amoeba-girl (and an oxymoron).
Speaks with Monsters answers the question "what do griffons (half-eagle, half-lion) eat?" with pescazelles, half-trout, half-gazelle.
Dissonance takes a relatively realistic approach to this—Pandora has traits of three different kinds of caniform, in addition to traits not typically found in that suborder, but it's definitely its own creature rather than a mix of the others. The protagonists are currently clueless as to what it could have evolved from (having dismissed genetic engineering, and only joked about aliens.)
Lots of "fursonas" are this way, to the extent that there are bird-mammal hybrids, or fish-mammal hybrids, or insect-mammal hybrids. For whatever reason, part-wolves and part-Blue Jays tend to be especially popular, with griffon-like Jay/Wolves essentially being the Holy Grail of animal avatars.
One strange instance had a character which consisted of a hyena crossed with a cuttlefish...
In a somewhat similar vein to the above example, the furry roleplay City of Unity has this as a major plot point; As maintained by the Orwellian government, Hybrids, or Uni-Class, (50/50 mix of two species) are held as the next step in evolution over the purebred Outer Class. (single species)
HumanDescent on deviantart.com loves doing digital manipulations of this nature.
It's very common to find people on Pokémon forums and art sites who like to do "Pokémon sprite splices", in which two or more Pokémon sprites are taken and edited to create a hybrid of said Pokémon. These splices range from ANYTHING to Pikquaza, to Eevedactyl to Mewgong to Bulbatres.
At Whateley Academy in the Whateley Universe, stuff like this is a common problem among the students. Diamondback is half human, half twenty foot long snake. Harpy is... a harpy. Psydoe is half deer. Gila is half lizard. Razorback is half velociraptor.
Avatar: The Last Airbender . Oh, boy, where to begin? The series initially had a few hybrid animals among those that just looked slightly different from real ones, but they became more of the norm as the series went on. The writers officially stopped pretending they were doing otherwise when we first saw a "Platypus Bear", which is exactly what it sounds like (and probably a tribute to the aforementioned Owlbear). The same episode also gives us what we must assume is a turducken.
The Team Pet, Momo, is a flying lemur (it has wings similar to a bat's).
Earlier designs of Appa, the otherTeam Pet, a flying bison, were a mix between a bison and a manatee, only with six legs.
The "penguins" from the first episode have four flippers and otter-like tails.
The farm in "Zuko Alone" has almost every common meat animal, albeit mixed with a pig.
A side comic on nick.com actually had scorpion bees.
And the actual series had the slightly less nightmarish but still pretty scary buzzard wasps. In other words, goddamned wasps the size of a freaking vulture.
Bigger than vultures - think more along the lines of, say, a cow. A cow-sized wasp with a vulture's head and talons.
There are "koala otters" (creatures with sea otter bodies and koala heads that are extremely cute) living in the waters around the Northern Water Tribe.
In "The Southern Raiders", we saw a plant example with a tomatocarrot.
This is a particularly odd example, as other fruits and vegetables - melons, mangoes, eggplants, cabbage, apples, and many more - have shown up completely unaltered.
"The Old Masters" has Aang making a reference to "a spider-fly caught in its own web".
"Appa's Lost Days" has a shot of a jackalope. As well as a Boarcupine, which is pretty much what the name says it is and every bit as badass (it fought the ten-ton Appa and was holding its own).
In one episode, a "train" powered by earth benders passes by a herd of antelope foxes.
Sokka mentions hunting arctic hippo, which many have assumed to be a cross between a hippo and a polar bear.
It's believed that Avatar Kuruk's hat is from a polar leopard. (Snow leopards?).
This was later confirmed to be a Polar-Bear Dog.
Catgators: catfish/alligator crosses. Kept as pets by the waterbenders of the swamp region.
Turtle-seals: Seals with turtle shells on their backs, of course (kind of like turtle-ducks). One was padding along at the back of a stampede of zoo animals (providing some interesing Mood Whiplash of a sort) in "Tales of Ba Sing Se".
Koala-Sheep. Basically, adorable falls of fluff that make great pillows.
Ostrich-Horses seem to be the main means of travel before the invention of air-balloon and cars.
Rabaroos look like giant marsupial rabbits. The one shown also had three babies in its pouch, way too many for a kangaroo but a small litter for a rabbit, implying that the mixing goes beyond external features.
And there's more... The real kicker is that Mix-and-Match Critters are such a common reality in the Avatar universe, that the main characters actually show a bit of shock upon hearing a "normal" animal (the Earth King's pet brown bear) exists in "City of Walls and Secrets".
The fact that they're given portmanteau names implies that there are (or were) "pure" versions of all the animals mentioned (not just the bear), although they seem to be relatively rare or even extinct. There's a bit of Fridge Logic when you wonder how the hell they knew that a platypus isn't a Mix-and-Match Critter.
Regular cats appear to be quite common and socially accepted, with normal dogs also showing up but less frequently. They also seem to eat regular chicken instead of this trope.
Even weirder: if you pay attention you'll notice that almost all animals in the regular Avatar world are Mix-and-Match Critters — but all of the animals from the Spirit World aren't! Hei Bei was a giant panda, Wan Shi Tong was a giant owl (but see below), the knowledge seekers that work in the Spirit Library are foxes, the moon and ocean spirits took the form of koi fish, and we also see a wolf and a talking baboon. That has some odd implications...
Wan Shi Tong also transforms into a Owl-dragon hybrid when he's pissed.
The sequel series also adds regular, unaltered wolves. They are unlucky enough to end up being victims of Noatak and Tarrlok's bloodbending training.
Lizard-crows scavenge in Republic City's urban sprawl.
Additionally, spider-rats seem to be a pest problem.
Bolin once mentions a "poodle-pony."
Korra uses a comparison to a "weasel-snake" as an insult.
Biker Mice from Mars has Fred the mutant, who has a duck's foot, a bear's foot, a human arm for his right arm, an octopus tentacle for his left arm and three eyes.
In Transformers: Beast Wars, Fuzors are Transformers who turn into Mix-and-Match Critters. They include a wolf-eagle and a scorpion-cobra (no points for guessing who took what side). The television series explained this as a result of technical problems that occurred when they were scanning for new forms. A third Fuzor was introduced late in the series, though his origin was quite different, in that his body was the fusion of the bodies of two other Maximals.
They were an entire sub-group when it came to the toyline. There were some weird combinations, but Injector took the cake as a lionfish/hornet. Injector is also one of the most notorious shelfwarmers of all time.
"He was all mandrill before I put a tiger in his tank!"
South Park has done it several times, including the half-squirrel half-chicken, Scuzzlebutt (looks like Beast but has Patrick Duffy for a leg among other things...) and ManBearPig (although ManBearPig is supposedly fiction created by Al Gore).
Al Gore: Manbearpig is real! I'm SUPER cereal!
And theGod is best described as hippo-cat with a lizard's tongue.
Doubly subverted in one episode. They try to splice pig and elephant DNA, despite having heard that song by Loverboy. They don't get a pig/elephant hybrid. It looks like a normal pig. But...its face looks likeMr. Garrison.
An early Fleischer Studios Superman cartoon had the Man of Steel pitted against the Hawk People, a Winged Humanoid species with bird heads, and strong enough to give Supes trouble.
The title charcter of Chowder and Panini are both a cross between a cat, bear, and rabbit. However, the original idea for the Chowder design was to look like some sort of squeeze toy.
The Simpsons has fun with this, with the Esquilax, a horse with the head of a rabbit... and the body of a rabbit. Oh look, it's galloping away!
Played straight in one Treehouseof Horror episode where Homer gets turned into a bizarre creature with a fish's head, a donkey's ears, a pair of brooms for hands, and a chicken's body.
There is also a memorable appearance by an "octoparrot" at a dubious center for scientific research which insists that "Polly shouldn't be".
Most of the jokes on Tex Avery's The Farm of Tomorrow consist of bizarre cross-breeding experiments such as an ostrich with a chicken (for bigger drumsticks), a duck with a banana (you peel the feathers off instead of plucking) and a dove with a high chair (a stool pigeon).
In the Sushi Pack episode "Near Miss", Paradoxter, himself a man-ox of unknown origin, creates the Animixter Ray that combines two animals into one amalgam. The animals all go back to normal once it is broken, though.
And Zoidberg. His species, the Decapodians, are hybrids of every sea creature there is—crab claws, cuttlefish for heads, ink-squirting, moltable shells, and then there's the dozens of larval stages they go through, including lampreys, trilobites, sea urchins, clams, and even anglerfish.
They even have a sponge or coral phase. And when they mate, the males display their crest, but when you get lucky, you're really unlucky: All those who mate die.
The "something that doesn't exist" from the Phineas and Ferb opening theme is a half-turtle, half-unicorn with webbed hind legs.
The Bango-ru dolls from "The Chronciles of Meap: More than Meaps the Eye" are apparently like custom-made Wuzzles. Stacy orders an adorable bunny-bear, while Candace orders a Bango-ru that's half-cow, half-frog, which... didn't turn out so well.
Candace: I just discovered why cows and frogs don't date.
Candance, Jeremy and Baljeet: Oh my. Buford:If I Had a Nickel for every time I herd that...
Alfe from The Problem Solverz is supposed to be part human, part dog, and part anteater, although he doesn't really resemble any of those.
Maleficent's goons from Sleeping Beauty, which all resemble evil pig-vulture-gorilla-crocodile-things.
Season one of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has featured a manticore (in episode 2), a griffin (in episode 5), and a cockatrice (in episode 17). Discord, the villain of the season 2 premiere "The Return of Harmony", is a vaguely dragon-like creature called a "Draconequus" with the head of a pony and a mish-mash of other animal parts, including a pair of mismatched antlers, a lion's paw, an eagle's talon, and a snake's tail. Season 3 has "fruit bats" which are, here, portrayed as literally hybrids of bats and fruit (which eat fruit in turn). Season 4 brings them back in a Darker and Edgier form as "vampire fruit bats". In the same episode, Fluttershy accidentally becomes a "vampire batpony", gaining certain bat-like physical traits and an overwhelming hunger for apples.
Alicorns such as Celestia and Luna are a combination of the three breeds of pony; the magic of a unicorn (horn), the flight of a pegasus (wings) and the strength of an earth pony (physical strength and size).
Non-anthropomorphic animals are often this trope to the extreme.
InAlicein Wonderland, Alice encounters many creatures of this type which include Bread-and-Butterflies, Rocking-Horseflies, Dog-and-Caterpillars, pencil birds, hammer birds, umbrella birds, cage birds, mirror birds, glasses birds, accordion owls, honker ducks, cymbal frogs, timpani frogs, and a broom dog.
One scene in Duck Amuck had the animator erase Daffy Duck's entire body, leaving only his head. Daffy then gets angry at him and tells him to draw his body back. The animator doesn't listen, and as a result he instead redraws Daffy as a bizarre quadruped with a flower-shaped head, mismatched feet, and a flagpole for a tail, with Daffy's flag displaying a screw and a ball. The animator then draws a mirror in front of Daffy, causing him to freak out after seeing his reflection.
In "The Camping Episode" of SpongeBob SquarePants, Spongebob and Patrick are wary of sea-bears, which are a mix of piranha and bear. Squidward doesn't believe they exist and tempts fate by doing everything Spongebob and Patrick believe attracts sea-bears. Naturally this attracts a sea-bear who spends the rest of the episode mauling Squidward. Just when Squidward thinks he's safe after he gets inside Spongebob and Patrick's protective dirt circle (the sea-bear leaves after making a threatening gesture to Squidward — it really hates Squidward), a sea-rhino appears. And Squidward isn't wearing anti-sea-rhino underwear...
Melvin the Monster from the Tiny Toon Adventures episode, "Hare Raising Night" is one of these, created by Dr. Gene Splicer. He has the head of a dog, the horns of a bull, the body of an orangutan, the wings of a bat, the legs of a pig, and the tail of an alligator. The pictures in Splicer's lab indicate he wasn't the only monster Splicer worked on, and and Splicer tried to make Buster, Babs, Plucky, and Hamton into a single species as well.
Any discussion with Mix and Match critters must start with the platypus, the weirdest thing that ever lived. An animal originally considered so bizarre that it was dismissed as a hoax. It seems fairly benign today, but imagine someone in 1798 receiving pelts of a creature that looked like equal parts duck, beaver and otter◊ that also laid eggs. And that was before the male was discovered to be venomous.
The platypus injects its venom through the spurs on its FEET. While not stolen from another animal, it is still a damn freaky thing to do.
The female, on the other hand, sweats milk. And both of them can sense electric fields...
And the best part: this semi-aquatic duck-billed web-footed egg-laying poison-spurred milk-sweating electricity-sensing furred creature is a mammal.
One of the reasons for the skepticism of scientists was the abundance of fake taxidermied fantastic beasts. Collectors of stuffed deer heads and bearskin rugs looking for something more exotic and you can't get them a giraffe or lion? No problem, just take some bits and pieces from some different animals and sew them together. No one will know the difference. That's why scientists must have inspected every inch of the first few platypus specimens for stitching.
Well, maybe not the weirdest ever - Hallucigenia was named because you'd have to be high to even imagine something like it. It looks like somebody combined a worm, an octopus, a hedgehog, and some other things that only a Lovecraft could love.
Ancient Greek texts described the "cameleopard", a creature with the body of a camel and the markings of a leopard. What they were actually describing was the long-necked, "spotted" giraffe.
Furthermore, the Greeks and Romans believed the spotted leopard itself was born from a mating of a lion (leo) and a cheetah (gattus pardus - "spotted cat"). Yeah, as wise as the Classical civilizations were, they knew squat about zoology.
Speaking of the Greeks, in the unknown land, anything goes. People with dogs' heads, people walking on their hands... Both are believed to be distorted reports of baboons.
It was believed for a long time that African and Asian elephants couldn't interbreed. This was proved wrong by the rather unexpected pregnancy of an Asian female in a zoo where the only males were the African variety. The resulting offspring, born in 1978, had physical traits of both varieties, but unfortunately died of septicaema aged 12 days.
Hmm.... snout filled with nasty teeth and a long, powerful tail, but at the same time bipedal and feathers? Wait, we have something like that. It's called a dinosaur (more specifically, a theropod, and if you want to get really specific, only maniraptoran theropods have vaned feathers).
Anatosuchus, a small extinct crocodile with an unusually broad snout has since, rather cheekily, been nicknamed the "Crocoduck".
Also cheekily, the gag Golden Crocoduck Award is now granted to whichever creationist whackjob is caught on film making the year's stupidest argument against evolution.
Some biologists hypothesize that some animals that undergo metamorphosis do so due to hybridization in their evolutionary past eg. Luidia sarsi a "jellyfish" that becomes a starfish.
A "jellyfish" is not any animal that happens to be transparent — that larvae has bilateral symmetry and three tissue layers for crying out loud! The only scientist who has this point of view is Williamson and it is increasingly likely that he's a crackpot - see the review of "The Origins of Larvae" by Greg Rouse.
Sheep-goat chimeras can actually live and they indeed look like both sheep and goat.
And camel-llamas (camas)
And beefalo - part buffalo, part domestic cow.
Actual experiments conducted recently. Implanting a human-shaped ear on a mouse? Sure. Firefly-tobacco hybrid - a leaf that glows in the dark? Why not?◊ With current technology we could go much further were it not for those pesky ethical considerations.
The Charles R. Knight reconstruction of the dinosaur Agathaumas (now suspected to be the misidentified remains of another dinosaur) mashed the spiked frill of Styracosaurus with the three horns of Triceratops, despite the only fossil evidence being of the dinosaur's rear end.
According to a theory by one philosopher of ancient Greece, all animal parts appeared independently and were combined in different possible ways to form whole creatures, but natural selection pruned out all the silly combinations.
The Okapi; one of the few remaining giraffes that doesn't look like the tall blondes one thinksof when one hears the word. It has the body of a horse, the legs of a zebra, and the horns of a giraffe...
Speaking of Zebras, lets talk about Equines. Most people are familiar with what you get when a donkey and horse mate, a mule. But what happens when you cross-breed a Zebra with a horse or a donkey? You get a Zorse or Zedonk respectively.
Find any kid that sees a picture of a wildebeest and doesn't say "horned horse".
North American folklore has the jackalope, a jackrabbit with antelope horns.
The Blind Men and Elephant story from India, where a group of blind men mistook each part of an elephant they touched as belonging to separate things (body is a wall, tusks are a spear, trunk is a snake, ear is a fan, tail is a rope).
One well-known optical illusion depicts a creature that alternately resembles a duck or a rabbit, depending on whether you think of the long, paired structures on its head as a bill or as ears.
Looking closer at a mosasaur, you'd think someone finally managed to take the badass qualities of a shark and a crocodile and combine into one badass dominant marine predator of the Cretacious period.
Chalicotheres looked like a pumped up-cross between a horse and a gorilla. Strangely, its closest relatives are the tapir and rhino.
The extinct glyptodont species, Doedicurus clavicaudatus look like if someone took an ankylosaurus and an armadillo (already two awesome animals by themselves) and combined them into an even more awesome one.
At the same time, there was a turtle knock-off of both in Australia: Meiolania.
This trope is not Speculative Fiction at all, for horticulture: many plants for sale in nurseries and garden supply stores are actually a product of grafting, as when a beautiful-but-frail rosebush is fused to a hardy-but-unattractive rootstock.