The Kraken, a creature from Scandinavian mythology, fascinates and frightens with its immense proportions and mysterious origins. This mythical sea monster, often depicted as a giant octopus, has not only inspired ancient sailors but continues to captivate popular cultures today.

1. Origin in Scandinavian Mythology

The Kraken originates from Scandinavian mythology and was mainly found in the coastal areas around Sweden and Norway.

kraken origin

This monster is usually depicted as a gigantic octopus with huge, dish-like eyes and long, winding tentacles. The Danish-Norwegian traveler Hans Egede was one of the first to report seeing sea monsters, describing a huge beast that was so large it reached the height of the mainmast.

2. Related to the Hafgufa

Hafgufa (1)

The Hafgufa, another mythical sea monster from Scandinavian folklore, shows many similarities with the Kraken. This creature, first mentioned in a 13th-century text, is known for devouring humans, whales, and even ships. The descriptions vary from a whale-like creature to a gigantic fish or even a mermaid.

3. The Name Kraken

The word ‘Kraken’ has multiple meanings that could indicate a sea monster. It might derive from the Norwegian word ‘krake’, meaning ‘pole’, referring to the tentacles. Another possibility is that it is related to the word ‘krake’, which can also mean ‘anchor’; anchors indeed resemble octopuses.

4. Stories about Kraken-like Monsters Have Existed for a Long Time

The Kraken is part of a long tradition of sea monster myths, including the Leviathan from the Old Testament of the Bible and Jörmungandr from Norse mythology.

Leviathan
Leviathan

These stories represent a deep-seated fear of and fascination with the unknown of the ocean.

thor-and-Jörmungandr
Jörmungandr

5. Likely Based on an Octopus

The Kraken is often depicted as a giant octopus, with eight massive tentacles and colossal eyes that engulf ships. This image of the Kraken as a type of cephalopod was first described in the 18th century and remains a popular depiction to this day.

Giant Pacific octopus
Giant Pacific octopus

The largest known octopus, the Giant Squid, can reach a span of more than 9 meters and lives at depths up to 2000 meters below sea level. Such immense dimensions may have contributed to the legends of sea monsters like the Kraken.

For comparison, the largest squid, the Colossal Squid, can even become larger and also has arms and two longer catch tentacles, reaching the impressive dimensions that sailors may have interpreted as the Kraken.

6. Gigantic!

The most terrifying aspect of the Kraken is its enormous size. Some sailors mistook it for an island, others claimed it was up to a kilometer long. Anyone who ever encountered a Kraken was lucky if they could tell the tale.

7. Designated as a Real Animal by Scientists

piere-denys-635x1024

Although the Kraken is a mythical creature, that did not stop some leading scientists from classifying it as a real species in scientific texts. Among them was the 18th-century French zoologist Pierre Denys de Montfort, who attributed several ship losses to the Kraken.

8. Jules Verne Made the Kraken Famous

jule verne the kraken

Although the Kraken was already known to sailors, the creature became truly famous through the book “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” by the French science fiction author Jules Verne. In this book, the submarine Nautilus encounters a giant octopus that nearly crushes the ship and its occupants.

9. The Kraken in Popular Culture

The legend of the Kraken has left deep marks in popular culture and remains an iconic symbol in numerous media. From the deep seas of the film world to the pages of thrilling books, the Kraken is everywhere.

In the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” the Kraken is spectacularly depicted as a mighty sea monster that devours ships along with their crew. Also in “Clash of the Titans,” the Kraken plays a central role as the monster that threatens Andromeda.

Outside the film world, the Kraken has also found its way into literature, such as in the science fiction novel “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” by Jules Verne, where a similar giant octopus makes a memorable appearance. Even in the modern world, the Kraken continues to inspire, as evidenced by its naming in various brand names, including a well-known rum and a cryptocurrency platform.

10. Various Real Explanations for the Kraken

Just like the beautiful mermaids that homesick sailors probably mistook for manatees, there are many natural explanations for the sightings described as the Kraken. These include natural sea animals such as whales, octopuses, sharks, and schools of fish, but also land masses, floating debris, and even waves.

Menno, from the Netherlands, is an expert in unearthing fascinating facts and unraveling knowledge. At Top10HQ, he delves into the depths of various subjects, from science to history, bringing readers well-researched and intriguing insights.

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