Animal ancestors

Stories of humans descending from animals are common explanations for tribal and clan origins. Sometimes the animals assumed human forms in order to ensure their descendants retained their human shapes, other times the origin story is of a human marrying a normal animal.

North American indigenous traditions particularly mingle the idea of bear ancestors and ursine shapeshifters, with bears often being able to shed their skins to assume human form, marrying human women in this guise.

The offspring may be monsters with combined anatomy, they might be very beautiful children with uncanny strength, or they could be shapeshifters themselves.

Pan Hu is represented in various Chinese legends as a supernatural dog, a dog-headed man, or a canine shapeshifter that married an emperor’s daughter and founded at least one race. When he is depicted as a shapeshifter, all of him can become human except for his head.

The race(s) descended from P’an Hu were often characterized by Chinese writers as monsters who combined human and dog anatomy.

In Altaic mythology of the Turkic and Mongolian peoples, the wolf is a revered animal. The shamanic Turkic peoples even believed they were descendants of wolves in Turkic legends.

The legend of Asena is an old Turkic myth that tells of how the Turkic people were created.

Asena is the name of a she-wolf associated with the Oghuz Turkic foundation myth. The ancestress of the Göktürks is also a she-wolf, mentioned yet unnamed in two different “Wolf Tales” recorded by Chinese chroniclers.

In Northern China a small Turkic village was raided by Chinese soldiers, but one small baby was left behind; a female wolf finds the injured child and nurses him back to health.

The she-wolf, impregnated by the boy, escapes her enemies by crossing the Western Sea to a cave near the Qocho mountains and a city of the Tocharians, giving birth to ten half-wolf, half-human boys.

Of these, Yizhi Nishidu becomes their leader and establishes the Ashina clan, which ruled over the Göktürk and other Turkic nomadic empires.