ByMark Newton, writer at Creators.co
Movie Pilot Associate Editor. Email: [email protected]
Mark Newton

On November 18th, 2016, the Harry Potter franchise will return to the big screen with Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. However, the world of mythological animals isn't necessarily confined to fiction, in fact many people have claimed to have uncovered evidence that legendary and incredible monsters and creatures live amongst us. Unfortunately, their evidence isn't always that watertight. Here are some examples:

The Cyclops

The one-eyed man-eating monster of Greek mythology might be one of the oldest legendary creatures. For example, Homer's The Odyssey - one of the oldest pieces of Western literature - features a pivotal scene in which our hero Odysseus must tussle with a cyclops named Polyphemus.

Indeed, the Greeks thought they had uncovered actual evidence that cyclops exist. They found various massive skulls which appeared to show a single eye socket in the middle of the head. Inspect some specimens below:

What's Really Going On?

As I'm sure you can figure out, these aren't really the skulls of giant one-eyed beasts. They are in fact the remains of an ancient elephant-like species known as the Deinotherium giganteum. In reality, the large 'eye-socket' is actually where the trunk was originally located. However, considering modern elephants aren't native to Greece, it's easy to see how their imaginations got the better of them.

Dragons

Fiery dragons have long been a staple of folklore, whether they're Chinese, Welsh or from elsewhere. However, a photo which recently surfaced in China appeared to show that dragons did in fact live within our very real world.

The image, which went viral in China, appeared to show a man rather nonchalantly gutting a dragon while his little canine companion looked on. Take a look below:

What's Really Going On?

Well, there are several perfectly rational explanations for why this guy is dumping a 'dragon's' entrails into a bucket. Firstly, this could simply be a rather good photoshop job, with one theory being it is in fact snake which has been made up to appear like a dragon. Another theory suggests it could also be dragon toy or figurine. Both of those sound more reasonable than the possibility that this dude is serving up mythological creatures for dinner.

Mermaids

A few years ago, a video arrived on YouTube which purported to show a carcass of a mermaid which had washed up on a beach following a hurricane. Back then it did the rounds on the Internet, and even today people are debating whether or not it's real. Check it out below:

What's Really Going On?

In fact, this is totally real - to a certain extent. You see, it's actually a sculpture created by taxidermist Juan Cabana as part of a collection of mermaid corpses. In this sense, the sculpture is actually made of various dead things, although none of them can be considered mermaids, unfortunately. This particular sculpture, called Nerina, eventually ended up selling for $10,000.

Fairies

In 2011, a resident of Guadalajara, Mexico named José de la Luz Maldonado was out picking guavas from a tree when he stumbled across a tiny creature - a fairy. After catching, and presumably killing the creature, he then stored it in formaldehyde and informed the locals who flocked to his house. Of course, he didn't show off his find for free, instead he charged $1.60 a pop to inspect the fairy. Check him out explaining his find on the news:

What's Really Going On?

Do you actually need me to tell you? As you can probably see, the fairy shares a striking similarity to Peter Pan's Tinkerbell. Perhaps that makes sense, I mean she was a fairy after all. True, but unfortunately, José's fairy also shares a striking similarity to this Tinkerbell toy:

Case closed?

The Black Shuck

Here is one of my neck of the woods. In East Anglia, England there are legends of giant black dogs which stalk the fens and countryside. Anyone who sees one either dies immediately or soon afterwards, creating a legend which was later turned into Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hounds of the Baskervilles.

W. A. Dutt, in his 1901 Highways & Byways in East Anglia describes the Black Shuck as thus:

He takes the form of a huge black dog, and prowls along dark lanes and lonesome field footpaths, where, although his howling makes the hearer's blood run cold, his footfalls make no sound. You may know him at once, should you see him, by his fiery eye; he has but one, and that, like the Cyclops', is in the middle of his head. But such an encounter might bring you the worst of luck: it is even said that to meet him is to be warned that your death will occur before the end of the year. So you will do well to shut your eyes if you hear him howling; shut them even if you are uncertain whether it is the dog fiend or the voice of the wind you hear.

There is one well-known legend which claims the Black Shuck charged into a church in Blythburgh in Suffolk, killed two people, caused the steeple to collapse and then left in a clap of thunder, leaving a scorch mark that can still be seen to this day.

Of course, this was all considered local superstition until in May 2014, archaeologists uncovered a massive skeleton of a dog near Leiston Abbey in Suffolk. Given the local legends, it didn't take long for the 7-foot long dog to be connected to the Shuck. Take a look below:

What's Going On Here?

In reality, the bones are unlikely the remains of a demon dog. Instead, historians believe they have probably found the skeleton of the Abbot's beloved hunting dog. Considering very large dogs such as Irish Wolfhounds and Scottish Deerhounds were practically used for hunting in 16th century, the earlier versions of the breeds were likely much larger than todays.

However, historians believe there could be some truth behind the Black Shuck. They suggest the legend could have originated from a much earlier period when the east coast of England was frequently raided, and then eventually settled in, by Vikings. Many of them brought with them large war dogs for scouting and hunting. So, if you did see a large black dog on the misty fen, it probably did mean you were about to be killed... by a hairy Scandinavian with an axe.

Leprechauns

Although leprechauns are mostly known for hiding pots of gold and doing little Irish jigs, they have also recently been embroiled in at least one violent attack.

In 2012 Alaskan police were called to an incident after a man was found writhing on the ground in pain. When asked who had attacked him, he reportedly replied:

It was a bunch of leprechauns.

Apparently, they had taken offense to him dancing with a girl.

That's not the only time one of the pint-sized Irish brutes has caused a stir. In Mobile, Alabama, hundreds of residents came out onto the street after reports circulated a leprechaun was in the area. Check out this fairly spectacular news report below:

What's Going On Here?

In the first scenario, it seems the man was beaten so badly he began to hallucinate. Eyewitnesses on the scene reported the extremely drunk victim was attacked by a bunch of normal-sized, angry humans and not a bunch of pissed off leprechauns.

But what about the second incident? Well, that's still unexplained. So far police have not found anyone matching the eyewitness sketch.

Unicorns

Although better known for cantering gaily on rainbows and flicking their manes amongst magical groves, the unicorns of medieval legend were actually really angry bastards. They were known to taking revenge on hunters in their sacred woods, while their horns were believed to hold magical healing properties.

Luckily, for medieval sick people, unicorns horns were actually rather plentiful - although they didn't come cheap. Viking and northern European traders frequently claimed to have sold unicorn horns for their weight in gold, while Queen Elizabeth I received an ornate carved unicorn horn that was said to be worth £10,000 (around £1.5–2.5 million in modern currency). Check out one such horn below:

What's Going On Here?

As I'm sure many of you know, the horn shown above actually belongs to the narwhal, a large marine mammal which has a tusk (or sometimes two) protruding out of its head. Those pesky Vikings obviously knew this, but decided to make a rather massive quick buck from the gullible landlubbers elsewhere in Europe.

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