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 '16 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 '16 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 '16 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 '16 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. $\endgroup$ – Keon Jun 17 '16 at 19:57

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 humans in 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 atrophiated.

  • 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 seconday 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. Whether it is cold or 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 an ellastic 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 reallistic design.

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  • $\begingroup$ why does the xcom depiction have hips and boobs? $\endgroup$ – Pyritie Dec 20 '17 at 11:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Pyritie they have some human DNA mixed in their own. $\endgroup$ – Renan Dec 20 '17 at 12:44
  • $\begingroup$ that doesn't mean anything $\endgroup$ – Pyritie Dec 20 '17 at 13:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Pyritie it is part of the plot of the game... in the scope of this question, though, it really doesn't mean anything. $\endgroup$ – Renan Dec 20 '17 at 13:46
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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 '18 at 14:55

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.

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  • $\begingroup$ I appreciate your response, but I removed the reference to Indian mythos a few hours ago. $\endgroup$ – jackwise Jun 18 '16 at 2:03

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