From noble unicorns to mischievous kappa, mythical creatures around the world weren't just conjured up out of thin air. Instead, mythical creatures were sometimes simple cases of mistaken identity that took on a life of their own over the years.
Gradually, people invented mythical creatures as explanations for things they observed in the natural world: People may have caught a brief glimpse of an animal, and that may have been enough to send their imagination into overdrive. Animals mistaken for mythical creatures include manatees, giant squids, and coyotes - under the right conditions, these beings became mermaids, kraken, and chupacabras.
Like fictional animals that were once believed to be real, mythical critters also reflect the culture that imagined them. Medieval Christendom, for example, reimagined unicorns according to its belief system. Similarly, when people came across fossilized remains of prehistoric animals that they had never seen before, they had no way of conceptualizing or understanding them. So they interpreted them in their own mythology, seeing them as evidence of long-gone creatures from an earlier era of mankind.
All of the animals on this list have been mistaken for mythical creatures - and thus have been springboards for cautionary tales, dark legends, and magical myths that reveal the boundlessness of the human imagination.
- 11,219 VOTES
Norsemen Thought The Giant Squid Was The Ship-Destroying Kraken
- 21,023 VOTES
Many Seafarers May Have Mistaken The Oarfish For Sea Serpents
- 3850 VOTES
The Skull Of A Woolly Rhinoceros Was Once Believed To Be A Dragon's Skull
- 5657 VOTES
Villagers Could Have Thought A Japanese Giant Salamander Was The River-Dwelling Kappa