Monday, January 5, 2015

6 Mythical Creatures and Possible Animals they were Based On

Myths and legends are often based on real things or events that people can’t really explain. For mythical creatures, they’re often animals that people don’t often see in the area or have very little knowledge about. Every culture has their own mythical creature that they often relate to the divine or enchanted. Below are a few common mythical creatures and the possible real animals that they’re likely based from.

Dragon legends are found all over the world. It’s not really difficult to trace back where the legend started. When ancient people found fossils of dinosaurs, they could have naturally concluded that these creatures were gigantic reptilian monsters. Large snakes and giant lizards fuel the description of these animals. Stories about Nile crocodiles and komodo dragons could have made it all the way to Europe. Some anthropologist looks at dragons as the collection of all human nightmares. Humans and other primates instinctively have fears for snakes. Hence the creation of the dragon mythos could have been something based on our deepest fears.

Known through ancient Europe and some parts of Asia, unicorns are magical horses that have a single horn which is said to have magical healing powers. Although no one really knows where this myth originates, it’s possible that this creature is based on the extinct one-horned hooved animal, the Elasmotherium. It’s also possible that the legend is based on mutant, single horned dears, antelopes and even goats. Since many believed on its horn’s magical powers, merchants often passed Narwhal horns as unicorn horns and sold them.

A common figure in ancient Greece, these animals is said to have the wings and head of an eagle and the body of a lion. Griffins are often used to symbolize bravery and wisdom, as well as nobility. The possible creation of this creature could be resulted from early storytellers combining features of existing animals. However, it is also possible that ancient excavators found fossils of a protoceratops and the legend was born.

Like griffins and dragons, the Cyclops could also have been inspired by the discovery of bones. A theory suggested that these one-eyed giant monsters from Greek mythology could have been based on the skulls of the extinct dwarf elephant. Since elephant trunks don’t really have any bones in them, ancient people would have concluded that the hole in the middle of the skull once housed a single eye. The skull’s size fits the description of the giant humanoid’s head perfectly.

Sea Monsters
The ocean has always been a fascinating and mysterious place. We’ve only explored a small percent of it, and we’re still discovering new animals in the depts. The simplest basis to this these myths are the giant squids which occasionally do get washed up on shore. Also, there’s the oarfish which can grow to around 56 feet, making it a good example of a real sea serpent. Giant fishes and whales may also be the source of these fishermen tales.

Another deep-sea tale, these half-person, half-fish creatures are known all over the world and have been traced back as far as 1,000 BC. Many sailors reported to have seen these creatures, and stories say that they would lure you into your death with their beautiful voices.  Historians believed that the sailors weren’t making up stories, but what they saw were aquatic animals that looked like mermaids. Dugongs, sea lions, seals and manatees are potential sources to this myth.

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