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Cold-Blooded Whatever

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Hybrids of reptiles, amphibians and fish, take 2

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
PistolsAtDawn on Nov 9th 2017 at 4:34:18 PM
Last Edited By:
PistolsAtDawn on Nov 13th 2017 at 11:15:22 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

Remade from this draft, because that one has 11 bombs due to some issues in its first draft. I am making a new copy as a blank slate for hats/bombs

feel free to edit this draft

Alt Names:
Plimpy, a fish with frog legs

There is a tendency in fiction to treat all groups of "cold-blooded" creatures as interchangeable and more or less the same thing. This often ends up with the distinct lineages of reptiles, amphibians and fish mixed into one strange package; generally a finned, reptilian or amphibian creature with both lungs and gills. A Sea Monster can have this kind of appearance. Alternately, this trope can occur in a single species where some members are Lizard Folk, some are Fish People, and others appear to be frog or salamander-like.

Note that there are some fish out there with amphibian-like and reptile-like features (see the Real Life section). However, these real life creatures are still fish; any similarities to other classes are examples of convergent evolution. In fiction, this often plays out as if someone took an existing animal and stuck traits belonging to another class onto it.

Subtrope of Mix-and-Match Critters and Artistic License – Biology. See also Call a Pegasus a "Hippogriff", for similar confusion of mythological creatures in general.



  • The Phantom Menace: The Colo Claw Fish, a Sea Monster living in the oceans of Naboo, has crocodile-like jaws combined with an eel-like body and bioluminescence.


  • Harry Potter: Plimpies are small "fish", yet they look a lot like bipedal frogs.

Mythology and Religion

  • Aztec Mythology: Cipactli is a mixture of a crocodile, a fish and a toad.
  • Classical Mythology: Dragons are reptile-amphibians with cat teeth and bat wings, and some have gills. Sea serpents are also fish-snake hybrids.
  • Chinese Mythology: Longs are often seen as fish-scaled snakes with legs. Certain naga depictions also have traits like fish.
  • Hindu Mythology: The makara is commonly depicted as a crocodile with a fish's tail.
  • Aboriginal Australian Myths: Taniwha is a reptile of sorts, that lives in and breathes the water.

Tabletop Games

  • Warhammer: The Lizardmen are a species of Lizard Folk divided into a Fantastic Caste System: three of these breeds are based on lizards first and foremost, but their caste of mages and priests, the Slann, resemble giant toads more than anything else.


  • Gormiti: The savage, piranha-like Vomica belong to the Sea Tribe, yet they also have dinosaur-like limbs.

Video Games

  • The Elder Scrolls: The Argonians are a species of swamp-dwelling Lizard Folk. Their physiology is chiefly and visibly reptilian, and they are described as reptiles throughout the games except for the fact that they also have fishlike gills on their necks.
  • The Magikarp/Gyarados family in Pokémon can be considered this since Magikarp is a fish that evolves into a sea serpent. As of Generation VI, Gyarados gets a Mega evolution that looks more like a fish, having a huge dorsal fin and a bigger body.
  • The Warcraft franchise features the Murlocs, who are semi-intelligent creatures halfway between Fish People and Frog Men, with piranha-like heads and fins on their back, but frog-like limbs and an amphibious lifestyle.

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • Some of the Mix-and-Match Critters that inhabit the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender qualify for this trope. This includes the catgator (an alligator-like beast with catfish whiskers, living in the Foggy Swamp) and the eponymous serpent of Serpent's Pass (snake-like body with a seahorse-head).
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic : Cipactli as a crocodile-faced toad. Hydras are also shown to not need air, despite the reptilianess.

Real Life

  • Coelacanths and lungfishes are two groups of fish that have some amphibian features, such as two pairs of lobe-like fins that resemble limbs, and in the latter group, lungs. Molecular studies showed that they are more closely related to Tetrapods (i.e. land animals, including amphibians and reptiles) than to ray-finned fish.

Feedback: 21 replies

Nov 9th 2017 at 4:57:12 PM

Removed unneeded italicization from mythology examples. Also, I'd say Cold Blooded Confusion sounds like the best title of the lot so far.

Nov 9th 2017 at 8:35:25 PM

I don't know about Cold Blooded Confusion. The name sounds like it could be about any Artistic License Biology depictions of ectothermy (cold-bloodedness) itself. "Anthropomorphic frogs warming up in cold weather by jogging? Cold Blooded Confusion!"

Nov 10th 2017 at 12:27:04 AM

Then let's go with Cold Blooded Whatever, at least as a placeholder.

Nov 10th 2017 at 7:53:08 AM

If we're comparing Feathered Serpent and Basilisk And Cockatrice to this, then I think we should also compare Our Mermaids Are Different (half human, half fish).

Nov 10th 2017 at 7:57:47 AM

Slightly rewrote some sentences, fixed typos, that kind of stuff. Looks like makaras are from Hindu myth, so I moved it there. Needless to say, we need more examples.

Nov 10th 2017 at 8:41:30 AM

^^ I'm not really sure we need to compare all this stuff. Only reptiles are mentioned in the "combine reptilian and avian features" part, not amphibians or fish. Similarly, mermaids are only about fish. Seems more like generally comparing the trope to Mix And Match Critter and its specific variants, which is already covered by "subtrope of MaMC".

Combining some things is not the same thing as, well, treating some things as the same thing. Since you can't get any confusion between reptiles and birds, or humans and fish, I'd suggest removing this part.

Nov 10th 2017 at 9:55:29 AM

My point, and I don't think I made it clear, was that if we list Feathered Serpent and Basilisk And Cockatrice then we ought to list mermaids as well (for a reason that I don't agree with anymore).

However, now that you mention the confusion part, my opinion is a bit different now. I agree that we shouldn't mention mermaids or Feathered Serpent.

However, Basilisk And Cockatrice could stay as a "See also" entry because basilisks and cockatrices used to be the same exact mythological creature, but enough creators confused it for two different creatures that there has (relatively) recently been a split between a basilisk (more serpent-like) and a cockatrice (more chicken-like). Since this trope has to do with creators getting confused, I think that trope could stay (so long as there's a bit of an explanation as to why).

Nov 10th 2017 at 10:16:22 AM

^ If we want to split hairs, cockatrices and basilisks started as separate creatures. Pliny's description of the basilisk in the first century A.D. was pretty unambiguously of a snakelike animal:

"There is the same power [[to kill with a glance]] also in the serpent called the basilisk. It is produced in the province of Cyrene, being not more than twelve fingers in length. It has a white spot on the head, strongly resembling a sort of a diadem. When it hisses, all the other serpents fly from it: and it does not advance its body, like the others, by a succession of folds, but moves along upright and erect upon the middle. It destroys all shrubs, not only by its contact, but those even that it has breathed upon; it burns up all the grass, too, and breaks the stones, so tremendous is its noxious influence."
It's also mentioned a couple of times in the Bible, always in conjunction with regular snakes.
"for out of the serpent's root shall come forth a basilisk, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent."
"You will tread on the lion and the dragon, the asp and the basilisk you will trample under foot"

The conflation of the basilisk and the more chimeric cockatrice first appeared in the middle ages, which is when they factually started being treated as the same creature — before that, no mention is made of basilisks having a petrifying (as opposed to just deadly) glance, hatching from chicken eggs or having avian features.

Leaving that aside aside, I do think that it might be useful to mention it — regardless of what confusion happened, happen it did.

Nov 10th 2017 at 10:28:13 AM

No, let's not have that debate again. The fight's over and the battle's been won. Stand down, please.

Nov 10th 2017 at 10:45:45 AM

Not sure the distinction (or lack thereof) between cockatraces and basilisk is that important here, anyway. Go ahead and delete the referance tho, I only included cause I copied it from the first draft

If anyone thinks this is ready, can it have hat?

Nov 10th 2017 at 10:55:10 AM

Alright, let's keep the basilisk part. Let's avoid mentioning when exactly the two creatures started being conflated, because that's kinda irrelevant to this trope. I reworded that part (and removed the Feathered Serpent mention) but feel free to reword it again if I didn't write it well.

^ I was waiting for a few more examples to give a hat...

Nov 10th 2017 at 11:08:13 AM

How is the writers confusing basilisks with cockatrices relevant to writers confusing reptiles with amphibians and fish? The basilisk-cockatrice confusion has more to do with people confusing mermaids with sirens, or pegasi with hippogriffs. This trope is more like confusing arachnids with crustaceans, thus combining their features.

Nov 11th 2017 at 12:38:55 AM

I'd assume people confusing the two would make their creature look like something halfway between a basilisk and a cockatrice... The intercheangeability part is mentioned in the description:

Whether these are two distinct creatures or whether they're interchangeable names for the same thing is something of a Cyclic Trope.

If the consensus becomes "we don't need it after all" then just remove it. For the record, I agree with WaterBlap and Theriocephalus about including a quick mention of it.

Nov 11th 2017 at 3:12:19 AM

^ Basilisk And Cockatrice was mentioned in the first place because it involves a reptilian Mix And Match Critter, but it's no more justified to be mentioned than any other Mix And Match Critter. WaterBlap's and Theriocephalus's justification of mentioning it is that both tropes include "creators getting confused" about something. But we have the whole Artistic License Biology index for creators being confused about how biology works, and for mythological creatures getting confused with each other, we have Sirens Are Mermaids, examples of Our Dragons Are Different where Eastern and Western dragon traits are combined (such as a fire-breathing Eastern dragon), Call A Pegasus A Hippogriff (which would cover calling a basilisk a cockatrice or vice-versa), etc. So I think the "confusion" justification is weak for keeping it.

Nov 11th 2017 at 8:40:04 AM

It's funny how I end up editing this draft a lot more than everyone else...

Okay, now I see what you mean. That's basically the same thing as what I said about Feathered Serpent and mermaids (why bother compare this to specific tropes when you can just mention Mix And Match Critter). So it's probably better to simply mention Call A Pegasus A Hippogriff which is broader than just basilisks and cocatrices. That sounds like the best option, we keep the quick mention of mythological confusion, and it's not too specific.

If you think said quick mention still has to go, well... go ahead and remove it. I'm fine either way. I'd rather focus on getting more examples anyway.

Nov 11th 2017 at 10:52:24 AM

Personally, I'm not married to the idea of including either Basilisk And Cockatrice or Call A Pegasus A Hippogriff. It's just that I think it'd help the trope be understood to have more compare/contrast tropes. I think it makes more sense to include Call A Pegasus A Hippogriff.

Nov 13th 2017 at 5:34:08 AM

  • Some of the Mix And Match Critters that inhabit the world of Avatar The Last Airbender qualify for this trope. This includes the catgator (an alligator-like beast with catfish whiskers, living in the Foggy Swamp) and the eponymous serpent of Serpent's Pass (snake-like body with a seahorse-head).
  • The Phantom Menace: The Colo Claw Fish, a Sea Monster living in the oceans of Naboo, has crocodile-like jaws combined with an eel-like body and bioluminescence.

Nov 13th 2017 at 7:01:03 AM

I have the following suggestion to be included in the description given the one Real Life example in the list in the draft. I'm definitely not "married to" this suggestion, so tweak it as necessary. I just think it'll help explain the real life example.

Note that there are some fish out there with amphibian-like and reptile-like features, e.g., lungfish (see example list). However, this trope usually plays out as two or more extant creatures being fused like Mix And Match Critters, rather than a fish with this feature or reptiles with that feature.

Like I said, this is just me trying to clear up the real life section since this is a subtrope of Artistic License Biology... unless it isn't...?

Nov 13th 2017 at 8:45:39 AM

This still sounds like a subtrope of Artistic License Biology to me. But I guess you can't say that about real biology, no matter how weird it looks. That said the real life example still fits imo. It's just not the kind of mix-and-matching we usually think of. Without this explanation it'd probably look a bit off, so I added your suggestion just in case (and tweaked it a bit).

@PistolsAtDawn I know you said "feel free to edit this draft" but since you started/copied it you're technically the sponsor so this goes both ways. Feel free to tweak our stuff if it looks too out of place. I'm just adding stuff that comes up to keep track of it.

Nov 13th 2017 at 11:15:41 AM

^ thank you- i like your additions. i tweaked the paragraph about real life examples a bit