There are many creatures that we’ve seen depicted in cinema, television shows, and fantasy literature. Many people question whether some of these great beasts could have once walked the Earth, and to be honest, there’s so much we don’t know. It is speculated that many talks of existence can be attributed to the finding and confusion of dinosaur fossils early on. Finding something so massive and unexplainable would lead to stories that would inevitably morph throughout each telling. In exploring the different mythical creatures inspired by dinosaurs, you can decide if they once roamed the earth.
The griffin is a creature of legend that is said to have had a lion’s body, tail, and hind legs, while sporting an eagle’s head and wings. In some cases, it was believed to also have eagle’s talons in the front. This mythical beast was first mentioned in 3300 BC and was a guard of treasure that could fly.
The griffin originated in Greek mythology. This creature was deemed a king to all beasts and birds as it was a powerful and majestic being. Myths of the griffin most likely resulted from fossil findings of a Protoceratops, an early horned dinosaur. The Protoceratops would have had similar features—especially with only bones to investigate.
Described since antiquity (the period before the Middle Ages), the legendary unicorn was a beast that resembled a horse with a large, pointed, spiraling horn that projected from its forehead. It originated in Asia sometime in the fifth century BC and was believed to have had magical powers to heal illness and purify poisoned water.
The unicorn may have been inspired by elasmotherium—an extinct genus of large rhinoceros. This would have taken place during the late Pleistocene Period right before a mass extinction occurred. They could also be related to any species of dinosaurs we have yet to discover and name.
In many cultures, the dragon is described as a fire-breathing beast with serpentine characteristics, horned, with wings, and four legs. While every culture has lore about dragons, no one has discovered the fossils of one. Their existence was most likely born from the findings of dinosaur remains that could not be explained, therefore explaining the connection between dragons and dinosaurs.
Many researchers believe that stories were created of these beasts to keep people cautious, and the features associated with what a dragon would have looked like are in close resemblance to dangerous and predatory animals that did or do exist. We will never know where the thought of these beasts and their existence originated from, but it is rather odd that they are part of history in every region of the world.
There are many different mythical creatures inspired by dinosaurs or by animals that no longer walk the Earth. This planet has seen more than one wave of extinction, and there is much to still be uncovered. As of right now, these beasts will remain a myth. The dinosaurs have left us quite a roadmap of unsolved mysteries.