Some of the mythical creatures are so popular that the modern culture is still widely using them in art whether it is game development, literature or film production. You will hardly find a person who does not know who werewolves or vampires are, even though many people might not be aware of the history behind these creatures. Yet, there are many more mythical creatures who are less popular in mass culture, however, they are pretty wide-known in their own culture. This article will introduce some of such creatures to you and will tell you more about their history.
Have you ever heard about jackalope? This word is a combination of jackrabbit and antelope which is giving a pretty unexpected creature looking like a hare with horns typical for deer. It might be rather difficult to imagine what such an extraordinary creature could look like, however, in the previous centuries many scientists were pretty sure a jackalope is a real animal rather than a product of imagination. You can come across encyclopaedias depicting jackalopes as real animals.
In Germany, jackalope received even more amazing features such as huge teeth and wings. They call this creature wolpertinger.
In all likelihood, these myths were created when people came across rabbits and hares suffering from a particular virus which causes the development of growths resembling horns right on the heads of these animals. Actually, there is a similar virus attacking giraffes.
Cyclopes are more well-known mythical creatures than jackalopes, however, it is not thus obvious what gave people an inspiration for creating them. It is known that cyclopes are giants with one eye. According to the mythology of ancient Greece, cyclopes are also cannibals.
One of the assumptions of the creation of the first myths about cyclopes was made by Othenio Abel who was a palaeontologist living a century ago. This scientist found a resemblance between cyclopes and elephants. According to him, a skull of an elephant with its trunk hole might have been associated by ancient people with a giant with a single eye.
Unicorns are very universal mythical creatures which can be met in quite distant cultures. People have known about the existence of unicorns since the ancient times. In ancient Greece and Rome, people regarded unicorns to be real animals. At the same time, there are many ancient Chinese legends which also mention unicorns.
Interestingly, despite all the concern of Europeans about magic during the Medieval times, they believed unicorns were holy creatures. Certainly, their corns were of a particular value. It was believed the corn of a unicorn can heal people from any poison and also give him or her fantastic power. The Brothers Grimm depicted this mythical creature as a rather aggressive beast which seems strange today.
According to the researchers, there are two possible ways in which unicorns might have occurred. The first theory assumes unicorns were made up by the Dutch and Norwegian people who were selling tusks of narwhal which is a whale of a medium size. They might have created a fantastic story about such a magic creature in order to sale their goods more efficiently.
It is also possible that the legend about unicorns was created when the citizens of ancient Rome or Greece found the remains of elasmoterium. This extinct animal is a predecessor of rhinoceros. Unlike the modern rhinoceros, these animals had their horns almost in the centre of the head just like unicorns. Still, this theory might not be necessarily plausible since the horn of an elasmoterium was so huge that it could even reach the length of a mammoth. As you can imagine, such a horn certainly does not look like a beautiful thin horn of a unicorn.
Griffin is one more popular mythical creature which is widely used as a symbol especially when it comes to Christianity. In this religion, griffins got the meaning of the divine power and the protection of beliefs.
As you know, griffins are based on two animals both of which are regarded by people as the symbols of power and dignity. Certainly, these animals are lion and eagle. Griffins have a head and wings of an eagle whereas their body is the body of a lion.
Griffins have been existing for a long time in the world mythology. According to historians, they were present in the legends of the Asian cultures. These legends were spread to Egypt where ancient Egyptians created the visual representation of the creature.
In ancient Rome and Greece the creature became particularly popular as it received some magic power which was very appealing to people. According to the beliefs of the people of that time, griffins were coming out of eggs like birds and in the place where a creature laid an egg, people were able to find gold.
One of the possible explanations for this phenomenon is a protoceraptos, whose skeletons were found by ancient people. The skeletons of these dinosaurs can be associated with a lion and an eagle at the same time.