Nagas are a half-human half-snake hybrid, similar to centaurs in that the beast has a human torso and a snake lower body. This question provides an overview of probable physical characteristics of this creature. To quote from the accepted answer:

So to start I think you need ~24' long body as a minimum [for the naga] if they can generally function at the 8' height. and 18' if they are normally 6' but can loom up to 8'. These would be minimums, and the 'tails' would be fairly large and thick. If they tapered down like a snake to fairly small diameter, then you might be doubling the length.

This question also asks how this creature would move around (though it uses a different term for them). From the accepted answer:

[I]t would use all four types of movement [concertina, serpentine, sidewinding, caterpillar], depending on terrain; however, it would likely use serpentine movement the most.

To summarize the features I desire this creature to have:

  • Human (or human-like) torso
  • Snake (or snake-like) lower half
  • Venom capabilities if possible (either via a bite, or spitting, or possibly venom-infused saliva like a komodo dragon, or heck all three)

In the spirit of the anatomically correct series, what would it take to make this creature exist?

I would like an explanation that realistically explains how its biology would function. I would love to hear points on whether it could be a combo of mammalian or reptilian features verses one or the other.

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    $\begingroup$ Not sure what you're asking.... The question you've linked in the body already tells you exactly how the Naga would be... so for your story, you just have to create one... There seems to be no major problems with the Naga design, so just have a really really really big snake? $\endgroup$
    – Aify
    Jun 17, 2016 at 15:57
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    $\begingroup$ I think the question here is can you biologically have a hybrid like this, which considering you are fusing a reptile with a mammal is complicated (if not impossible) and interesting. $\endgroup$
    – James
    Jun 17, 2016 at 16:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Aify James has it right, the anatomically correct series is about taking a fantastic creature and making sense of it in terms of actual science and I want to know how a naga would work in real life. $\endgroup$
    – jackwise
    Jun 17, 2016 at 17:21
  • $\begingroup$ @jackwise please pull the relevant creature details out of the links and post them as part of the question text. Links are fine for reference material but everything a answerer would need to write something up should be in the question text. People may have different ideas about mythological creatures so list out the features you are expecting to be explained. $\endgroup$
    – James
    Jun 17, 2016 at 18:12
  • $\begingroup$ Ah, I see your update. I deleted my comment for now. I have to go for a bit but I'll be back to try and propose a more detailed answer. $\endgroup$
    – Kaia
    Jun 17, 2016 at 19:57

4 Answers 4


This may be one of the simplest mythological creatures to make "real", or at least more realistic.

One way this could happen in a parallel universe is if humans (or a human like species) evolve in such a way that the genes for sirenomelia give them an evolutionary advantage. If this seems far-fetched, imagine that if they spend a lot of time in water, this could be a first step to develop a body that is fit for swimming. Just look at a seal's skeleton.

Later on, they either evolve to climb trees - perhaps they live in mangroves, or in a river in a rain forest - or to constrict their prey, so having a longer "tail" (actually a lower body) helps. Rather than the legs getting longer, it's the chest and abdomen that elongate.

Anatomically, a naga-like being makes more sense than a centaur. For a laysperson observing it, the humanoid side would seem to fit onto the snake side chest-on-abdomen, rathen than abdomen-on-neck as a centaur would.

Let's take a look at a snake's internal anatomy (taken from Wikipedia):

Anatomy of a snake. 1 esophagus, 2 trachea, 3 tracheal lungs, 4 rudimentary left lung, 5 right lung, 6 heart, 7 liver, 8 stomach, 9 air sac, 10 gallbladder, 11 pancreas, 12 spleen, 13 intestine, 14 testicles, 15 kidneys.

Most snake organs are elongated, and those that come in pairs are placed one in front of another, rather than side-by-side. You could rearrange both human and snake organs in your naga, though I imagine the snake anatomy would be more prevalent.

This is how I picture it, supposing the creature is 20-ft long and has a navel where a human would:

  • The chest: a naga wouldn't have a sternum, nor a diaphragm (it'll use its intercostal muscles for breathing).

  • The lungs: at least one of them would be long, and extend way below the navel. That one would be divided in chambers, so that if punctured, that chamber can be isolated and the creature can continue breathing. The other lung may be a normal human lung, probably atrophied.

  • The heart: it will be much bigger than a human's, and like that of a snake, can move up and down. Due to the sheer size of the naga, it may actually have a secondary heart, of maybe even three (this is not a feature snakes have, though).

  • The abdomen: it will have ribs almost all the way down do the end. The stomach and bowels would take up most of the space of the snake body, along with powerful muscles surrounding them. This part of the body will be thicker than a regular human's.

  • The skin: if the naga is to move like a snake, they will need a really thick skin. If the naga evolved from mammals, that would be some really thick hide, like that from a hippo or elephant. Now this is where it gets interesting: friction with the ground would damage this skin a lot, so they could be constantly secreting some oily substance (evolved from sweat) to lubricate their way around, and the snake part of their body could be covered in thick fur. If you want a more traditional snake-like naga, though, you can give it scales, since reptile scales are made of the same protein as mammal hair and nails, and rhino horns.

I am no biologist, so the figures in what I am going to say next are completely made up. If straightened up, your naga would be somewhat four times longer than a human, with a close width. For it to have the same metabolic rate, it would probably need to eat four or five times as much as a normal person. So a naga would probably fare better if it is cold blooded - or something in between, like dinosaurs are thought to be by some paleontologists. Whether it is cold, warm or semi-warm blooded, though, it should really gorge itself when eating.

Last but not least, you could have their humanoid side look human, but I think a more lizard like look is not only cool, but also more functional. A mouth that can open up to a really large size and a stretchy throat would allow it to swallow really large amounts of food whole.

One depiction of such a creature that I really like is the viper from X-Com 2:

X-Com 2 Viper

And here with a human, for size comparison:

Not as long as the one being discussed here and in the other question you linked to, and thinner than I'd have it, but a nice starting point for you to build until you reach a more realistic design.

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    $\begingroup$ why does the xcom depiction have hips and boobs? $\endgroup$
    – Pyritie
    Dec 20, 2017 at 11:19
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    $\begingroup$ @Pyritie they have some human DNA mixed in their own. $\endgroup$ Dec 20, 2017 at 12:44
  • $\begingroup$ that doesn't mean anything $\endgroup$
    – Pyritie
    Dec 20, 2017 at 13:38
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    $\begingroup$ Not having a sternum would only be feasible if the naga is of the armless variety (i.e. completely limbless); the sternum is mandatory as an attachment point for the pectoral muscles, which themselves are a necessity for proper operation of the arms. $\endgroup$
    – MarqFJA87
    Jul 19, 2018 at 14:55
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    $\begingroup$ @Pyritie in the first remake (enemy unknown) they had legs and no tails and wore suits... so... the "breasts" are supposedly large venom glands/sacks $\endgroup$
    – Baldrickk
    Sep 5, 2018 at 14:30

A traditional depiction of the Naga in Hindu mythology is not a reptile-mammal hybrid, but a fully reptilian with human like aspects( most notably hair in some texts). With the exception of hair, you could use fully reptilian anatomy.

Start with a upright Indian Cobra(latin Naja Naja) (the closest animal representation of a Naga), add in muscles to support the arm just under the flange. Add whatever human features to the head, remove the flange, and scale up. This will be near identical to historic depictions.

  • $\begingroup$ I appreciate your response, but I removed the reference to Indian mythos a few hours ago. $\endgroup$
    – jackwise
    Jun 18, 2016 at 2:03

A naga could have evolved from an arboreal frog that grew larger to hunt larger prey. They might evolve more efficient lungs, in order to supply oxygen to the body. They would also evolve to grab onto branches, as they would be too large to stick to things. They may evolve to grab prey with their long hind-legs, as their legs would be stronger than their tongue. This might lead to the pelvis extending outwards, allowing the frog to reach further. Their skin might become thicker, in order to protect themselves against predators and drying out. They might also gain armoured scales. They might also start to practise parental care, by building nests to keep their tadpoles in. They might evolve to create nutritious secretions, which might lead to the formation of breasts. Their tadpoles might also evolve to coil around their parent if the nest is in danger, to allow them to escape. This could lead to the tail being kept into adulthood, which might free up the hind-legs for hunting. In order to hunt better, they might gain a neck to look around. They might further increase in size. In order to more effectively eat their prey, they might evolve to have stronger teeth, as well as a sharp ridge along the lower jaw, and a sturdy skull and jaw. This could lead to an increase in the amount of food they can eat, which might lead to them becoming endothermic. Due to competition from other arboreal predators, they might start to live on the ground. These ground-dwellers would likely slither using their tails, and would hold themselves up with their arms. Eventually they would be able to stay upright without using their hands. Due to their hands being free, they might evolve to use them to restrain prey. They might also evolve to lunge at prey to grab them. This might lead to the hind-legs shortening, with the tibiotarsus annd metatarsals shrinking into a wrist. This allows all four limbs, alongside the mouth, to be used to grab prey. They might also increase in size. In order to take on larger prey, they may evolve to secrete venom into their mouth, in order to gain a venomous bite. This venom would likely lead to the evolution of fangs for injecting venom. They might start hunting in packs, in order to get prey too large to kill alone. This would lead to them forming a social structure. Humans might enter their habitat, and bring new creatures. This could lead to a more abstract communication, to allow them to target new creatures. This abstraction would lead to language, which would lead to them becoming sapient. These changes would result in a creature quite close to a naga


Well I have two interesting possible options (but the first answer above still being the best if you want totally humanoid nagas), so:

  1. Cobras "recovering" arms, well I dont know much about Hindu culture, but in the images that appear when you search "naga" on google are the mentioned humanoids that you want but with multiple arms, so basically is less possible that some snake snake could recover arms like the other tetrapods, but hooded cobra could get some stragne new limbs by the ribs of the hood, with the constan use of the erected position could turn this to arthropod like limbs, this could be useful for trap preys, after this bringing to a more humanoid an squared head with the requiered stereoscopical vision and if well snakes are not very intelligent creatures and the intelligence still being and mistery, there are some intellingent reptiles like the Cuban crocodile and the tegu lizards, so eventually a sanke with a different life style could gain intelligence.
  2. The other option is almost the same but applied to anguidae reptiles which can get large common arms from its legs.

I liked the first answer about the sirenomalian nagas the possible anatomy that could have dont convince the legs fusion and the pelvis form even the column suport dont convince to erect a body of that weight, probably needs an entire strcutural change also other problem that could bring is the reprodcution an breeding, for this reason I thought that a human based naga is hard to get.


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