Triskeles are popular Celtic decorative motifs. Everyone from modern day retro-Pagans to jewelry makers to Celtic bands uses them for the cool factor.

But there is a little known creature, possibly mythical, that is depicted on flags and coins from disparate island regions of Europe.

Flag of Sicily:

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Isle of Man Penny:

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So naturally, this got me thinking about the Triskelion as an actual creature. And, as it turns out, in my own World, there is such a creature.

It's not been properly studied and is not amenable to life with people. It's not cute & cuddly and is useless as a hunting beast. So no one really wants to have anything to do with the poor Triskelion.

  • Here follows the best cobbled description I have of it:

    A rather odd creature is the Triskelion, the three legged runner of the wild marches of Eosphora, rushing & dashing about as it does upon its three legs. Triskelions are scavengers, generally eating dead rodents, small dragonets & evets, they have been known to almost merrily tread upon and gobble nadders as well.

    The anatomists tell us that the Triskelion is a most confounding creature. They have no lungs or heart or brain; and are mostly composed of muscle, bone and sinews. The singular eye, they say, is held in place by many strands of fine sinews. The cavernous mouth leads to a strange cavity into which many fine hairlike fingers protrude.

    While Triskelions do take somewhat the appearance of Men --- they have a single eye, often beautifully coloured, a nose, a mouth with crooked teeth and lolling tongue and a single ear as well as their characteristic legs & feet --- they have no language and no apparent awareness of their surroundings as one might expect of a person. They make no tools or houses. They wander the wildlands aimlessly, mostly alone, sometimes in loose gangs of perhaps a dozen. They are generally skittish; but when riled, their terrifying speed and ability to leap & kick make them formidable opponents to all but the bravest & boldest warriors.

    A Triskelion may stand upon one straightened leg, which it does, seemingly to gauge a sense of it surrounds. It may hop upon its toes to gain a little height. Triskelions have been known to stand or kneel upon two legs whilst leaning upon a tree or rock, as if propping themselves up for a well earned siesta! When resting, they seem to prefer folding up their legs and resting upon their knees.

enter image description here

  • Query:

    Given the physical form of the Triskelion and what little is known of its anatomy, physiology and behaviour; how might such a creature evolve?

I'm looking especially at this creature's curious anatomy (some kind of "pouch", no apparent heart or brain, etc) and wondering how it might have come to be.

One of many queries in the Anatomically Correct Series.

  • $\begingroup$ It's been done: L. Neil Smith, "Their Magesties' Bucketeers". Image images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/… $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Commented Nov 6, 2018 at 5:49
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @jamesqf -- Thanks for that link! Very cool, but not the same. Similar idea, though; and gives me food for thought! Those have nine limbs on three trunks and locomote horizontally. I'm looking for a creature that has only three limbs and locomotes like the Isle of Man triskele, vertically. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Nov 6, 2018 at 6:15

1 Answer 1


This thing is an echinoderm that has evolved to dwell on land after a few dozen millions of years.

The largest starfish are around a couple feet (~66 cm) wide. It is no stretch to have some larger ones. It evolved to be a little larger because that's the best compromise between, in adult size, eating other animals and not being eaten, while being as energy efficient as its cold blooded metabolism will allow.


Another Staryu

Being land based gives them a reason to evolve articulations and a gait that favors using legs as they do rather than the horizontal crawling of their marine cousins. It gives them more speed and agility. It also allows for jumping and absorbing a fall's impact. They would never develop these traits in water, which is much denser and viscous than air - but on land, those traits are the difference between life and death.

Echinoderms also match other parts of the description, especially:

They have no lungs or heart or brain; and are mostly composed of muscle, bone and sinews (...) The cavernous mouth leads to a strange cavity into which many fine hairlike fingers protrude.

The "bones" are an adaptation of the echinoderms' ossicles, which are calcareous structural elements. Rather than a brain it has a complex neural network spanning the legsx where decisions are made, no changes there. The hollow muscles in the legs which anatomists can't decipher are intestines. As for the mouth, this is a starfush mouth up close:

Yes, this is the mouth, not the other end.

The "hair" are really many small feet which evolved to be thinner. They pull food in and keep it there.

Finally, the facial features and tongue are just for show. That creature is already as ugly as beating one's own mother without those, but they make the beast even scarier, driving would-be predators away.


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