Humanity has developed into a civilization that sprawls worldwide over a span of thousands of years. And every type of civilization has a unique version of tales of fantastical myths ranging from dragons to boogeymen and mermaids. In fact, many of us still enjoy reading about these mythical creatures through books and other materials. But have you ever wondered where stories of these creatures originated from? Or have you ever wondered if there might be some truth to these tales? You’ve probably heard the saying that there could be truth to the myth, and we’re here to tell you of seven mythical creatures that were based, in some manner, on animals that genuinely did exist:
1. Dire Wolves
Yes, your favorite wolves from Game Of Thrones were very much real. Canis Dirus, were real creatures that went extinct more than 9000 years ago after the last Ice Age came to an end. They weren’t huge monstrous creatures, but they were definitely larger than the average wolves we see today. They weighed around 60 kilograms on average and were skillful predators. Although, they had larger teeth and were better at slicing through their meat than their modern-day cousins. Their prey was usually bison, camels, horses, and even homo sapiens.
There isn’t some general scholarly consensus on dragons, but many theories suggest that when ancient humans found dinosaur fossils, they thought they were dragons. These served as inspiration for their beliefs. Even modern-day lizards and reptiles like iguanas, Gila monsters, Komodo dragons, and alligators could have served as inspiration for dragons.
Griffins are mythological creatures with tails, bodies, and the hind legs of a lion while having wings, forelegs, and an eagle’s head. They were depicted as guardians of important treasures and artifacts. Just like dragons, the belief in griffins might be rooted in early fossil finds. Avian dinosaurs called Protoceratops were common during the prehistoric era, and when their fossils were found thousands of years ago, many early humans thought they were Griffins. The skull of those dinosaurs had a beak-like snout, and the creature was about the same size of a lion.
The Kraken is a mighty and massive creature from the depths of the deep sea. It is said to be a giant squid that can destroy entire ships with its gigantic tentacles. You will find mentions of the Kraken all over European literature, and many described it as a floating island due to its size. Many sailors have described the strange creature for thousands of years, but every description had something new to add. Krakens can reach lengths of up to ten meters and weigh more than 700 kgs. Although they might seem like they were real, the truth is that they might have actually just been gigantic squids or giant octopuses. Many of those have been spotted throughout the years, and a specimen was even captured in 2007.
Unicorns are described as white horses that have large, spiraled horns that stick out from their foreheads. They have often been associated with magic and have been described in many countries across the world throughout history. The myths of the unicorn have evolved over time. Pliny the Elder’s description of the rhinoceros is one of the most likely origins of the European versions of the myth. He described it as “head of the stag, tail of a boar and feet of an elephant.” Over the years, this description had morphed into tall tales of unicorns. In Norse mythology, Vikings used to take narwhal tusks to cities across Europe and sell them at exorbitant prices, claiming they were “unicorn horns”. This is probably how the myth spread and gained popularity.
Mermaids, which are underwater creatures that are half-human and half fish, are said to be found all across the world’s oceans. Many people claim that they have spotted mermaids over the years, and some have even claimed to have taken photographs of them. Some of the earliest depictions of mermaids are found in Greek mythology. It is believed that mermaids were good creatures, but some felt that mermaids were dangerous like “sirens”, and spotting one was a sign of bad luck. It is believed that sailors trapped on the open oceans for long periods probably saw nursing manatees and presumed they were mermaids.
Bunyips are gigantic, malevolent beings that are said to lurk in the swaps, creeks, waterholes, and billabongs of southern and eastern Australia. The descriptions of these creatures are scarce, and those who have encountered them are said to have been too frightened by its appearance to note down details. Artistic depictions of these creatures show that they are a cross between a crocodile and an emu. Many believe that you can still spot these creatures in the Murray River and the waterways associated with it.
While most of these creatures are a figment of a fervent imagination, we have to wonder if there are some truths to the tales. Multiple people have spotted every creature mentioned in our article over the years, and every culture has a different take of its own. Have you ever spotted a mythical creature? Let us know all your thoughts in the comment section below.