Semimythical Beasts

The creatures in this section have two things in common: each has been known since ancient times, and each could originally be based on one or more real animals (or their fossil remains). This group is often cited as evidence for the creativity of the human mind in constructing large, scary, purely imaginary monsters—either to explain how the world works or because there is a "universal need" to be scared based on a primal fear of the predators that our arboreal ancestors faced. That may be true in some instances, but a more sensible explanation might be that some kind of observation (or misidentification) in nature takes place first, after which speculative writers and theorizers add one layer of legend and symbolism after another over hundreds of years until only the myth exists and the animals are forgotten. That certainly seems to have been the case with the GRIFFIN, whereby fossil DINOSAUR skeletons seen in the Gobi Desert made their way over time into European architecture and heraldry.

One source of much animal lore and misinformation was the medieval bestiary, a popular compilation of zoological data that was reprinted nearly as often as the Bible and revised constantly. Many of the literary creatures found in the bestiaries are technically cryptids, since no living animals have been found to correspond to the myths. By separating fact from fantasy, cryptozoologists can shed light both on the history of science and the anthropology of myth and symbolism.

Mystery Semimythical Beasts

BASILISK; BEHEMOTH; CATOBLEPAS; CENTAUR; Chimera; Dragon (Asian); Dragon (British); Dragon (European); Golden Ram; Griffin; Leviathan; Manticora; Salamander; Sirrush; Sphinx; Unicorn

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