Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- See Shapeshifters (music) for the electronic music group from the United Kingdom, or Shapeshifter (music) for the New Zealand drum and bass act.
Shapeshifting, transformation or transmogrification refers to a change in the form or shape of a person. It primarily refers to:
- a change from human form to animal form and vice versa
- a change in appearance from one person to another
"Shapeshifting" often refers to characters who change form on their own, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, while "transformation" refers more commonly to externally imposed change of form, whether by magic or sufficiently advanced technology. However, there is no settled agreement on the terminology.
Shapeshifting in myth
Popular shapeshifting creatures in myths and legends are werewolves and vampires (mostly of European, Canadian, and Native American/early American origin), the kitsune or were-foxes of Japan, and the gods and goddesses of numerous mythologies, such as Loki from Norse mythology or Proteus from Greek mythology. It was also common for deities to transform humans into animals and plants.
Although shapeshifting to the form of a wolf is specifically known as lycanthropy, and such creatures who undergo such change are called lycanthropes, those terms have also been used to describe any human-animal transformations and the creatures who undergo them. Therianthropy is the more general term for human-animal shifts, but it is rarely used in that capacity.
Almost every culture around the world has some type of shapeshifting myth, and almost every commonly found animal (and some not-so-common ones) probably have a shapeshifting myth attached to them. Usually, the animal invovled in the transformation is most likely indigenous to or prevalent in the area from which the story derives.
Also, it is worthy to note that while the popular idea of a shapeshifter is of a human who turns into something else, there are numerous myths about animals that can transform themselves as well.
Examples of shapeshifting in classical literature include many examples in Ovid's Metamorphoses, Circe's transforming of Odysseus' men to pigs in Homer's The Odyssey, and Apuleius's becoming a donkey in The Golden Ass.
Notable mythological shapeshifters
- werewolves -- humans who turn into wolves
- vampires -- corpses who can turn into wolves and/or bats
- Bouda -- hyena-men of Africa
- encantados -- according to stories from Brazil, they are "the enchanted ones," creatures from an underwater realm, usually dolphins with the ability to change into humans
- kitsune -- werefoxes of Japan; werefox myths abound from other countries such as China, Korea, Vietnam, and even the United States, but "kitsune" refers specifically to the Japanese variety
- Nagas -- snake-people of Asian countries, especially India & Nepal; may appear either as transforming between human and snake, or as a cross between the two (such as the upper torso being human and the lower torso being serpentine); some Nagas may also assume the form of dragons
- thunderbirds -- huge birdlike creatures described in the lore of several Native American tribes; some thunderbirds turn into human beings
Shapeshifting in fiction
The Transformation Stories Archive is an online collection of stories by amateur authors centered around transformations.
Notable shapeshifters in fiction
- Morph and Mystique are both shapeshifters in the Marvel Comics universe..
- Odo, one of the main characters of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
- T-1000, an evil robot with shapeshifting abilities from Terminator 2.
- The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, in which the main character wakes up to find himself transformed into a large insect-like creature.
- Many types of shapeshifters occur in Laurell K. Hamilton's novels in the Anita Blake series, such as werewolves, werejaguars, wererats, and even a wereswan.
- In the Harry Potter series, certain wizards, called Animagi, are trained in the art of shapeshifting. Animagi can only transform into one specific animal, and so far each example in the books has taken a different form.
- D. M. Wind's novel The Others is about a group of shapeshifters from another dimension who can turn into any animal at will, though they usually take the form of either wolves or panthers.
- Many of Jack L. Chalker's novels involve one or more transformations; he wrote an essay on physical transformation as a metaphor for various psychological changes, included in his short story collection Dance Band on the Titanic. This theme is used several times in the Jerry Cornelius stories by Michael Moorcock, as well as in works by Robert Sheckley, Nina Kiriki Hoffman and others.
- The Animorphs series is about a group of five kids who are able to "morph" into any animal they have touched and purposely "acquired" its DNA. The Animorphs recieved their powers--rather, technology--from a scientifically advanced alien species called the Andalites.
- The Transformation Stories List (not updated recently)
- Metamorphose.org (regularly maintained)
- Transformation Stories Archive
- Specialized definition on WikiTherian
- TFCentral - A portal dedicated to TransFormation. Hosting, forums, image gallery, story archives, and chat.
- Portal of Transformation - Site with sections on the folklore behind a number of different shapeshifters from around the world.
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details