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A legendary creature is a mythological or folkloric creature (often known as "fabulous creatures" in historical literature).

Description

Some mythical creatures, such as the dragon and griffin, have their origin in traditional mythology and have been believed to be real creatures. Others were based on real baby creatures, originating in garbled accounts of travelers' tales; such as the Vegetable Lamb of Tartary, which supposedly grew tethered to the earth (and was actually a type of fern)[1]. Examples of the legendary creatures can be found in medieval bestiaries.

Conversely, some creatures downplayed as just storytelling, have been rediscovered and found to be real in recent books, such as the giant squid (the Kraken). In Africa, Natives of the Congo told European visitors of an animal that looked like a cross between a zebra and a giraffe. While the visitors assumed the stories were just folk tales, in 1901, Sir Harry Johnston brought back pelts that proved the creature, which we now call the okapi, was real.

Often mythical creatures are hybrids, a combination of two or more animals. For example, a centaur is a combination of a man and horse, a minotaur of a man and bull, and the mermaid, half woman and half fish. These were not always intended to be understood as literal juxtapositions of parts from disparate species. Lacking a common morphological vocabulary, classical and medieval scholars and travelers would attempt to describe unusual animals by comparing them point-for-point with familiar: the giraffe, for example, was called camelopard, and thought of as a creature half-camel, and half-leopard. The leopard itself was so named as it was historically believed to be a half-lion (Latin: "leo") and half-panther (Latin: "pardus"). This etymology has been kept until the present day, despite its zoological inaccuracies.

Many legendary creatures appear prominently in fantasy fiction. These creatures are often claimed to have supernatural powers or knowledge or to guard some object of great value, which becomes critical to the plot of the story in which it is found. Dragons, for instance, are commonly depicted as perched on a gleaming hoard of gold which becomes the target of adventurers.

Other legendary creatures are thought to exist even today, including chupacabras, Bigfoot, Yeti, the Loch Ness Monster, the Jersey Devil, Mothman, Yowie, Yeren, Pukwudgie, and even space aliens. These are called cryptids by cryptozoologists.

Throughout history legendary creatures have been incorporated into heraldry and architectural decoration. Legendary creatures have also been accepted into many facets of popular culture, most notably in fantasy role playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons or Everquest, video games, and Hollywood movies.

See also

References

  1. ^ Large, Mark F.; John E. Braggins (2004). Tree Ferns [ILLUSTRATED]. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, Incorporated. p. 360. ISBN 978-0881926309. 
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A legendary creature is a mythological or folkloric creature (often known as "fabulous creatures of earth" in historical literature).

Contents

Description

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Some mythical creatures, such as the dragon and griffin have their origin in traditional mythology and have been believed to be real creatures. Others were based on real baby creatures, originating in garbled accounts of travelers' tales; such as the Vegetable Lamb of Tartary, which supposedly grew tethered to the earth (and was actually a type of fern)[1]. Examples of the legendary creatures can be found in medieval bestiaries and old stories.

Conversely, some creatures downplayed as just storytelling, have been rediscovered and found to be real in recent times, such as the giant squid (the Kraken). In Africa, Natives of the Congo told European visitors of an animal that looked like a cross between a zebra and a giraffe. While the visitors assumed the stories were just folk tales, in 1901, Sir Harry Johnston brought back pelts that proved the creature, which we now call the okapi, was real.

Often mythical creatures are hybrids, a combination of two or more animals. For example, a centaur is a combination of a man and horse, the minotaur of a man and bull, and the mermaid, half woman and half fish. These were not always intended to be understood as literal juxtapositions of parts from disparate species. Lacking a common morphological vocabulary, classical and medieval scholars and travelers would attempt to describe unusual animals by comparing them point-for-point with familiar: the giraffe, for example, was called camelopard, and thought of as a creature half-camel, and half-leopard. The leopard itself was so named as it was historically believed to be a half-lion (Latin: "leo") and half-panther (Latin: "pardus"). This etymology has been kept until the present day, despite its zoological inaccuracies.

Many legendary creatures appear prominently in fantasy fiction. These creatures are often claimed to have supernatural powers or knowledge or to guard some object of great value, which becomes critical to the plot of the story in which it is found. Dragons, for instance, are commonly depicted as perched on a gleaming hoard of gold which becomes the target of adventurers.

Other legendary creatures are thought to exist even today, including chupacabras, Bigfoot, Yeti, the Loch Ness Monster, the Jersey Devil, Mothman, Yowie, Yeren, Pukwudgie, and even space aliens. These are called cryptids by cryptozoologists. An Australian urban myth claims the existence of the Rae, a man-sloth hybrid that has the power of hypnosis with its perpetually open eyes.

Throughout history legendary creatures have been incorporated into heraldry and architectural decoration. Legendary creatures have also been accepted into many facets of popular culture, most notably in fantasy role playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons or Everquest, video games, and Hollywood movies.

See also

References

  1. ^ Large, Mark F.; John E. Braggins (2004). Tree Ferns [ILLUSTRATED]. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, Incorporated. p. 360. ISBN 978-0881926309. 

External links


Simple English

A legendary creature is a mythological or folkloric creature. Some examples of mythical creatures are griffins, dragons and unicorns.

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