Photo credit: Denis Skley
Dragons and griffins probably aren’t the only mythical creatures inspired by old bones. One theory that’s been floating around for the past century is that cyclopses, the one-eyed giants of Greek Myth, might have been inspired by the buried skulls of extinct dwarf elephants. Upon discovering these strange fossils, myths were born to describe the ancient beings they may have been attached to.
Since elephants’ trunks don’t contain any bones, there appears to be one gaping opening at the front of the skull. To a primitive paleontologist, it could easily be mistaken for a giant eye socket. The size of the skull compared to a human head could have easily sparked the idea these were colossal humanoids.
Photo credit: Etee
It’s hard to know exactly what lurks in the ocean’s depths — after all, we’ve only explored about 5% of it to date. Given that it was impossible to do more than skim the surface of the sea until very recent history, it makes sense that there are so many legends about strange and monstrous creatures lurking in its depths.
So far we’ve found a few creatures that might account for sailors’ tales. The giant oarfish, which can grow up to record lengths of 56 feet, is a good candidate for a real-life sea serpent. The Kraken of legend has an obvious source of inspiration as well: the giant squid, which can grow 50 feet, and can occasionally be seen at the ocean’s surface. There’s evidence the ancient Greeks may have encountered the giant squid as early as 400 BC.
Photo credit: Bridget Coila
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