I've came to a little theory on how some mythical beasts may have been concieved. (In the mental sense of course, not the physical sense!)
Anyway, I believe that many mythical beasts, such as dragons, basilisks, manticores and perhaps even demons present in religious script; may have been
inspired by ancient fossil findings!
Laughable as it may seem, consider this. Can we seriously believe that since the dawn of mankind, it has only been within the last 100 years or so,
that we have stumbled across these gigantic fossils beneath our feet? Now that kind of assumption is what I would consider laughable!
The miners of old would have been almost certain to have encountered fossils, deep underground, giving rise to the whole dragon/cave cliche we all
know and love to this day. Also, such myths such as Nessie could have similar connections; does Nessie not look exactly like a Plesiasaur? (ye olde
aquatic dinosaur, with a long neck.)
And note how demons and dragons in particular take on similar forms in different cultures world-wide, even those which have had little outside
influence! Many would worship deities reminiscent of pre-historic beasts. It is unlikely that during their era they would not find the fossilised
remains of some strange, alien creature. (Not alien as in little green men, BTW)
I've probably lost you about now out of sheer boredom, but bare with me.
Have you noticed how mythical beasts (particularly those such as dragons and chimeras) are particulary large? Also, many have multiple heads, or an
unfeasable amount of limbs! This is extremely likely to be based off either broken fossils, or fossils containing the remains of several creatures.
(As some pre-historic creatures ate their offspring, just as many do today.)
These kind of 'mass fossils' confused many seasoned archaeoligists in the past, leading them to believe that some dinosaurs may have walked on all
fours, when in reality, they just found another set of hind legs in the same fossil- obviously belonging to another of the same species.
I've dragged on way too much here, but I think I've made some interesting points. I hope I've made someone (patient enough to read this), think.
Although, I could be entirely wrong, making an idiot of myself, but that's the glory of an un-answerrable theory!
[edit on 1-3-2005 by hedgepook]