There are some outlandish inhabitants of our planet that look so bizarre and are so rarely seen that scientists considered their existence a fairytale for a long time.
In the Middle Ages through the Renaissance, unicorn horn was all the rage. It turns out, however, that the twisting, conical objects were actually the tusks of narwhals, an Arctic whale hunted by Vikings who sold their tusks at astronomical prices (and conveniently failed to mention the animal they came from). In 1577, the English explorer Martin Frobisher led a Canadian expedition where he happened upon a dead narwhal, which he called a “sea-unicorn.” He later presented the tusk to the queen.
Nobody could catch the mysterious beast or at least get a closer look at it, which is why people nicknamed it the “African unicorn.”
British explorer Henry Morton Stanley, who conducted several expeditions to Africa starting from 1871, mentioned this creature in his 1890 book entitled “In Darkest Africa.” It was a kind of a “donkey,” referred to as “atti” by a local tribe of Wambutti. In 1901, another British explorer, Harry Johnston, made an attempt to find a mysterious animal: the locals told him about “o’api” and even sold him some skins, which he sent to London where they caused a lot of confusion in the scientific community.In the end, researchers finally recognized they were dealing with a new species, which was dubbed Okapia johnstoni, but to this day it remains incredibly elusive. It is a threatened species, due to illegal logging and poaching. Unexpectedly, its closest living relatives are not zebras, but giraffes.
No talk of cryptids would be complete without mentioning sea monsters. The Greeks had a six-headed sea goddess named Scylla, cultures in the Bahamas had the half-shark, half-octopus called the Lusca. And who could forget the Nordic legend of the Kraken, which was even described as recently as the 18th century in Europe’s first modern scientific surveys of the natural world? The creature was finally described as a giant squid by Norwegian naturalist Japetus Steenstrup in 1853.
The Komodo dragon is revered for its large size as some grow as long as 10 feet in length. The giant lizard is big enough to kill anything on the island of Komodo and thus given the dragon name. For the most part, this lizard was considered a myth by early explorers to the island of Komodo. However, the first trip that yielded anything realistic was that in 1926 in which the lizards we captured and studied. What still puzzles everyone is why the lizard has a poisonous bite. While some say it has poisonous fangs, others say its teeth are full of bacteria and the bacteria is the reason the wound becomes infected quickly whenever the lizard bites a person or animal.