From fur-bearing trout to horned rabbits, people have been sighting these mythical animals for a very long time.
Fur-Bearing TroutWikimedia Commons
The myth of the fur-bearing trout originated with early settlers of some of North America's colder locales, who wrote home to their family of the strange, "furried" fish and animals they encountered. Another legend stated that species of fur-bearing trout evolved after four jugs of hair tonic were accidentally spilled into the Arkansas River in Colorado during the 1870s.
Roman historian Pliny the Elder described the unicorn in his "Naturalis Historia" as being "the fiercest animal, and it is said that it is impossible to capture one alive." Unicorns also make an appearance in the Bible in Numbers 24:8 and in a number of early medieval texts. While it's unknown exactly where the myth of the unicorn originated, it may have come from sightings of one-horned antelope or the Indian rhinoceros.
The bonnacon was said to be a beast like a bull that uses its own dung as a weapon. Pliny the Elder describes the bonnacon in "Naturalis Historia" as follows: "There are reports of a wild animal in Paeonia called the bonasus, which has the mane of a horse, but in all other respects resembles a bull; its horns are curved back in such a manner as to be of no use for fighting, and it is said that because of this it saves itself by running away, meanwhile emitting a trail of dung that sometimes covers a distance of as much as three furlongs (604 m), contact with which scorches pursuers like a sort of fire."
The Vegetable Lamb Of TartaryWikimedia Commons
A popular myth in the Middle Ages, the Vegetable Lamb of Tartary can be traced back to the 436 A.D. text, Jerusalem Talmud by Rabbi Yochanan. It was supposed to be exactly what the name implies; a kind of vegetation that grew lambs from its stem.
Aspidochelone appears in the Christian text Physiologus and a number of Medieval bestiaries. It was said to be a massive sea creature, so huge that it was often mistaken for an island. Sometimes referenced as an allegory for the Devil, Aspidochelone was said to lure sailors to take refuge on its back before pulling the entire ship to the bottom of the sea.
Gloucester Sea Serpentnewpagebooks.blogspot.com
A sea serpent was seen in the harbor of Gloucester, Massachusetts many times, beginning in 1638. Between 1817 and 1819, hundreds of people claimed to see the beast. The New England Linnaean Society wrote of the serpent: "It was said to resemble a serpent in its general form and motions, to be of immense size, and to move with wonderful rapidity; to appear on the surface only in calm, bright weather; and to seem jointed or like a number of buoys or casks following each other in a line."
The legend of the jackalope under that name goes back to 1932, when Wyoming resident Douglas Herrick supposedly found one dead and mounted it on the wall in his shop. The myth of the horned hare goes back much further, however, appearing in 17th century works of natural history and an even earlier Persian geographic dictionary.
De Loys' ApeWikimedia Commons
A giant ape was supposedly encountered by Swiss geological explorer François de Loys in 1920 near the Tarra River in Columbia. This photo of the beast was published in a 1929 edition of the Illustrated London News. Most experts dismissed the encounter as a cheap hoax, stating that de Loys had simply encountered a spider monkey.
Stories of dragons have circulated the world for many centuries. Chinese medical scholar Lei Xiao wrote that dragon's bones made excellent medicine for strengthening the kidneys when ground into a powder. Pliny the Elder said that dragons could strangle an elephant with their tails, and 17th century German naturalist Athanasius Kircher described the habits of dragons in his work "Mundus Subterraneus" or "Underground World."