My question is about the internal organs of this creature. How are these organs arranged? It is confusing, because it is basically a horse with its head replaced by a human upper body.

For example, if it has both the human and horse organs, that would mean it has multiple hearts, livers and two pairs of lungs.

Can someone explain how this creature works?

  • I don't really think anyone has ever explored this. Maybe in modern fiction, but back then... Really interesting thought though.
    – Mario
    Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 6:37
  • 6
    I'm pretty confident there is no information on this. Anatomical knowledge in Greek antiquity was rather limited. The sort of elementary physiological knowledge we all take for granted wouldn't be known to most (or any, in some cases) ancient Greeks.
    – femtoRgon
    Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 7:36
  • 2
    Wibbly-wobbly magicky-wagicky... stuff. Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 18:47
  • 1
    @LaurenIpsum Timey-wimey
    – bleh
    Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 19:50
  • 1
    @LaurenIpsum : Magicky-wagicky x-D !
    – Adinkra
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 21:54

3 Answers 3


You are essentially correct: If a centaur were real, it would have a lot of duplicate structures which don't make anatomical sense:

fake centaur skeleton

The answer, of course, is that centaurs are just as mythical as Pegasus (bird/horse cross), gryphons (lion/eagle cross), hippogriffs (eagle/horse cross), and jackalopes (jackrabbit/antelope cross). They looked cool.

  • 1
    true, but those examples you just mentiod do make anatomical sense Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 9:25
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    @SamHendriks ...no, no they don't. Birds have to have hollow bones and be as light as possible for flight. Horses are enormously heavy and have hooves. Felines have retractable claws. The other mythological creatures cited may not have duplicated structures like the centaur, but they are all physiological impossibilities. Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 10:05

As Lauren Ipsum points out, this question is based on a questionable premise: that Greek mythological creatures were supposed to have "worked" anatomically.

I'm not an expert, so I can't say for sure, but I have never heard of any mythological explanation of centaur anatomy. Of course, many modern fantasy writers and mythological enthusiasts have come up with their own explanations, but I don't think those fall within the scope of this site (unless they have been influential enough to have passed into modern "folklore").

Some ancient accounts treat them as having partially divine ancestry (from Zeus), and of course Greek gods displayed many violations of conventional anatomy by being able to transform themselves and perform all kinds of physical feats that would be impossible for any living being in real life.

Some books about myths that I have read suggest that the image of the centaur was inspired by how non-equestrian cultures first perceived men on horseback. I forget where I first read this, but it is mentioned in the Theoi.com article on centaurs that I linked to below. Although this explanation is certainly speculative, I find it intriguing.

Ancient Greek depictions of centaurs show some anatomical variations: sometimes the foremost pair of legs are depicted as equine, but sometimes they are depicted as human legs.

bronze centaur with human front legs next to a man

"Bronze man and centaur", a mid-8th century B.C. Greek bronze statue



Here's a short summary of my current "research" on this "topic":

Organ placement

The human half mainly serves as a "strange neck", with no organs, aside from a heart and a small lung for fine control of airflow (i.e: speech.), and is also connected to the horse lungs, similarly to avian respiratory systems.

Location: 2 pair of small ones in the upper (human) ribcage, 2 pairs of large ones in the horse part.

Btw, meeting the oxygen requirements of a running horse is easy, as they can't breathe through their mouth (another nail in "intelligent design's" coffin), but humans can. For further information visit the following link: https://youtu.be/QsvS6gEBJuE?t=1497 (Warning: Autopsy)

The digestive system is redesigned to be omnivore, with the addition of being able to digest grass.

Location: Solely in the horse-half, aside from the esophagus and the mouth, of course.

Circulation, is pretty much intact, aside from a few rewirings but with the addition of a human small heart, that helps at getting the blood up to the brain.

Did I mention you the real Time Lords? (yes, there was a DOUBLE HEART ATTACKT, no, he survived it.

Small additions:

  • Stronger bones in the front legs, plus a lighter human-half would be ideal.

  • The human-half shouldn't contain much fat, the horse part seems to be more fit for that.

And for everything else, there's the Internet and Master Card.

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