There are two types of Sphinxes told about in ancient tales: The Egyptian Sphinx and the Greek Sphinx.
The Egyptian Sphinx is a very powerful creature that is associated with the god Re. It has the body of a lion and the head of a man. The most famous version of the Egyptian Sphinx is the statue of one at Giza, but many smaller versions with the head of the Pharaoh du'jour have been found all over Egypt. It is sometimes referred to as the Androsphinx.
The Greek Sphinx was a winged lion with the head of a woman. She posessed the secrets of the universe but refused to reveal them, and was associated with death. The once besieged and terrorized the city of Thebes, but was defeated by Oedipus when he correctly guessed the answer to her riddle.
The Riddle of the Sphinx: