Some magical creatures can be immortal / unchanging.
But they presumably started sometime. Are there any land dwelling magical creatures that are older than Noah's flood?
Some magical creatures can be immortal / unchanging.
Who knows? Maybe.
Your Saga May Vary!
I generally assume that many daimons are older than that.
In some cases the flood or a flood was part of how fairies bound entities during the titanomachy.
How do you connect the flood to the titanomachy?
The Bible says God called the flood to cleanse the Earth, so that's what happened. I see no reason to de-Christianise the setting. So the flood did exactly what the Bible says it did, for the reasons that it states. Therefore, as a default, no land-dwelling creatures would have survived unless they were on the ark.
However, Ars Magica gives us a really easy get-out card to play here if we don't like the idea of dragons etc. on the ark Regiones. I'd say that by default a magical Regio wouldn't have got flooded.
And presumably other powers would have been perfectly capable of protecting "their own".
Plus anything that can breathe under water, that naturally lives semi-submerged (think Grendel's mother, for example), that has an essentially spiritual form, or that can remain airborne for a long time, etc. could plausibly have survived.
So, between Regiones remaining unflooded, actions of powerful entities protecting their minions/allies/herds, and the various one-off reasons why something would survive... we can rationalise as many older-than-the-ark creatures as we want.
There is a Sumerian flood myth, and the Sumerian god of agriculture (Dagon) was afterwards depicted as having the tail of a fish. In the Greek Titanomachy Atlas was a Titan of earth and ruler of Atlantis which flooded, and even within the biblical account the old rules were replaced after the flood with a rainbow as a promise that the rules had changed. So yes, I see a strong connection between the flood and the titanomachy.
When we say the whole world was under the water for 40 days, does this extend to the British Isles? Eastern Africa? America? If all the places Noah knew where under the water, then in a sense "the whole world" was. I note this because while we do need to account for "the Bible is real" in Mythical Europe, we also need to account for many other myths that are no less real in the setting (also, modern evidence that there was a flood, but not earth-wide).
Maybe in the Holy Land no land-dwellers survived (unless they were in a suitable regio, as proposed by Kevin). But as you go further away it is more likely to have things of ages forgotten still lurking around.
On that note, when was the world created? If you go by the Bible, it's around 4000 BC (in 1220, around 5000 years ago). So, if a dragon in England claims to be 10000 years old, is he lying?
One thing to always keep in mind is that tings like the bible only have to be real from a certain perspective. For example there is (today) a lot of evidence that the flood story was essentially cribbed from Mesopotamian mythology. There is no reason this could not also play a part in ME- obviously not everything can be real since some myths and legends contradict each other but each of them can be an accounting of a real event from a different perspective.
Another thing to keep in mind is that even if you consider the Bible chronology to be perfectly exact within Mythic Europe (as the books hint), ars magicka does support Time Dilation / Contraction regios, and realms such as the faerie realm where time is literally meaningless. A 10000 year old dragon within a 5000 year old world is a definite possibility in ars magicka.
There's a fascinating essay on the world's oldest animals in The Review of English Studies by Michael Bath (Donne's Anatomy of the World and the Legend of the Oldest Animals on JSTOR) which lists various classical and medieval legends.
A fragment attributed to Hesiod states:
A chattering crow lives out nine generations of aged men, but a stag's life is four times a crow's, and a raven's life makes three stags old, while the pheonix [sic] outlives nine ravens
There's an inscription before the altar in Westminster Abbey that suggests there is a three-fold increase in the age of creatures for each of the following steps: dogs, horses and men, stags and ravens, eagles and huge whales; and I used this as a basis for the section on animal characters in Grogs.
The Welsh myth of Culhwch and Olwen has the eponymous hero ask a succession of animals the whereabouts of Mabon with each deferring to a more senior animal. He starts with the Blackbird of Cilgwri, then to the Stag of Rhedynfre, the Owl of Cwm Cawlwyd, the Eagle of Gwernabwy, and ending with the Salmon of Llyn Llyw (although technically the Eagle is the oldest; the Salmon is stated to be the wisest animal in the world). There is also the Irish tale of the Hawk of Achill, who claims to be 5000 years old.
I'd encourage you to locate Bath's paper if you can, because it has some great alternatives of the myth.
In Jewish lore, as well as the aforementioned Behemoth (the supreme land animal) and Leviathan (the king of all sea animals) there was Ziz (the ruler of all birds). These sprang to life on the Fifth and Sixth Days of Creation (with Behemoth being the 'little' brother); and will live until the end of the world when they will be feasted on by the righteous. That makes them pretty old. I would have these as Divine Beasts, myself.
On the other hand Behemoth and Leviathan could also very well be demons, especially if one follows the plotlines that Solomon bound demons to his will to build stuff.
As primordial beasts, you could lump them in with the snake of paradise, first demon and mother of the others from Adam, Lilith / Lamia. See for this also RoP:TI p.25 The Jewish Devil.
But this is forcing the issue of primordial creatures in a direction quite unbecoming to sorcerors of old, and thereby to magi of Mythic Europe. I would advise against it.
In canon, the Serpent of Eden is Pytho, one of the kings of hell (RoP:I 27). But I agree, this is getting away from what you wanted.
who (RoP:TI p.27)
... has lied to prophets and oracles throughout the ages. Pytho is believed to have been the serpent of the garden of Eden, ...
Seriously, we shouldn't try to sort out ArM5 canon roles of primordial beings here. Too many contradicting beliefs in the sources!
EDIT: Here's the source of the name and role of Pytho:
This may be the origin of the name Pytho, but by the medieval period the falsity of all (non-Divine) oracles was accepted because it runs contrary to Free Will. Pytho was named as the chief of all deceiving demons and the continuity between classical Pytho and medieval Pytho is ArM canon; but bear in mind that we are talking about the very essence of falsehood here*. I used a medieval source for the names of the Kings of Hell when I wrote that section of RoP:I; I believe that it is later repeated in the Malleus Maleficiarum.
*There may be a Faerie version of Pytho which harks back to the original myth. There may also be a Magic Pytho who is a hypostasis of predicton and prophecy. The Infernal Pytho works hard to make sure that all these versions are muddled in the minds of mortals.
I am generally of the opinion that there likely is a faerie of just about any supernatural being, as the legends told about them will attract faeries to the role. This can be a unicorn, a dragon or even a demon. Although the later might just end up infernally tainted. Considering that the faerie live off the vitality and emotions, the guilt of sin as well as the strong emotions of fear or lust would be sustenance.