Mythical Creatures That Turned Out to Be Real


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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.

The animal world never ceases to amaze us: every year, dozens of new species of living beings are found on Earth. It sometimes happens that hoaxers starving for fame announce that they’ve managed to find a fantastic new animal, still unknown to the world. However, history also knows the opposite examples, when weird animals living remote, reclusive life are considered fictitious – until some daredevil enthusiast provides undeniable evidence of their existence.

Narwhal:

Photo:videoblocks.com

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.

Duck-billed platypus

Photo:blog.stealthbits.com
Even real carcasses of platypuses were considered to be an obvious hoax, created by sly taxidermists from parts of various animals with the help of scissors, a sewing needle and a thread.The platypus was scientifically described for the first time in 1799 by British naturalist George Shaw. A skin of the extraordinary mammal, which the-then Governor of Australia John Hunter sent to him, seemed extremely suspicious-looking, but as long as he couldn’t find any gluing or stitching Shaw realized it wasn’t “some deceptive preparation by artificial means,” as he wrote. Over the years of observation, more specimens were discovered, accumulated and described in their natural habitat. It turned out that the peculiar animal not only lays eggs just like birds do, but also has poisonous spurs on its hind legs, which it effectively uses to defend against predators and competitors during mating season.

Okapi

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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.

Giant squid:

Photo: ocean.si.edu/giant-squid

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.

Komodo Dragon

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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.

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