I think my favorite creature from the Lord of the Rings movies were the oliphaunts, especially in the final battle where Théoden lead the Rohirrim to fight them in Gondor. Such a cool scene.

Anyway, one of the greatest things about fantastic literature – and by fantastic, I mean science fiction and fantasy – is strange and wondrous beasts. Tolkein had his oliphaunts and ents, Edgar Rice Burroughs had his thoats and banths. Having creatures that obviously don’t exist in our world reinforces the reader’s view of a world that is different from ours.

When populating your world with creatures, you need to do more than just change the name of a scorpion to something more exotic sounding. Create things that are specific to your world, things your readers will be able to identify and related to your stories.

Remember, when you are creating your creatures, to keep in mind where they fit in your world’s ecology. Are they predators, and if so, how close to the top of the food chain are they? What do they eat? Where do they live? How common are they? Are they a magical creature (like a gryphon), or something more mundane (like a lion)? Are they considered sacred by the people of the world? Are they considered evil (think about black cats during the Middle Ages)? Do the people of your world consider them food? Does the creature consider the people of your world to be food?

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