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Thread: Origins of Mythical Creatures and Beings

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    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Origins of Mythical Creatures and Beings

    Instead of sidetracking the Qin Pike Square vs Macedonian Phalanx any further with my musings on the origins of mythical creatures and beings, I'm making a separate thread.

    Basically, the idea is to use philosophical razors to come up with likelier, more common sense explanations regarding mythical creatures and beings, that have been passed down to us from our forebears through myth and legend.

    Werewolves
    1. people who had never seen a man/person wearing a wolf pelt before, saw a person wearing one
    2. their mind simply couldn't understand what they were seeing, they had no concept of the idea that men could wear wolf pelts, so their fertile imagination led them to believe they saw a man/wolf hybrid. Dogs used to much more closely resemble wolves for most of the 20-30,000 years they've been domesticated, so dog can be swapped for wolf in this scenario.
    3. this applies to other types of "were"-animals, such as werebears
    4. could, in addition, be a case of forced perspective/nearsightedness, where, from a distance, forced perspective merges a man and wolf in the eyes of the "witness", thus leading to belief in a being, henceforth known as a "werewolf"

    Satyrs
    1. either a nearsighted person, and/or a person who has a fertile imagination, is the "witness"
    2. this person has possibly never seen a goat before, perhaps at the time of the earliest domestication (e.g. Europeans seeing Middle Eastern origin farmers with goats for the first time)
    3. forced perspective merges man and goat, in their view, or they see something as simple as a goat shepherd standing behind a goat
    4. man and goat appear to be a single animal, henceforth known as "satyrs" in many nations

    Centaurs
    1. sedentary agriculturists of south Asia and the Middle East, thousands of years ago, are the "witnesses"
    2. the result of first contact between sedentary agriculturists, who had never seen horsemen, encountering horsemen from the Eurasian Steppe for the first time
    3. they couldn't conceive of the idea of a man riding a horse, so instead of correctly perceiving one animal (a man) riding and controlling another animal (a horse), they honestly, but mistakenly perceived this combination to be an entirely different type of animal that they had never seen before, henceforth known as a 'centaur', a strange hybrid of man and horse
    4. future sightings of horsemen in the fog, or at night, mistakenly perceived to be the centaurs of myth and legend, reinforced the mistaken belief in centaurs for millennia to come

    Zombies and Vampires
    1. a person gets infected with the rabies virus, which prior to the invention of modern medicine, was incurable and a death sentence to anyone who became infected
    2. infected person goes insane, and they are no longer in possession of their higher human faculties
    3. the symptoms of the rabies virus makes the infected person appear to be "undead"
    4. infected person, much like a rabid animal, goes around biting people, thus infecting them and "turning" them, and these henceforth came to be known as "vampires" and "zombies"

    Unicorns
    1. simply a warhorse that was fitted with a spear on its face, for use in stabbing enemy soldiers with
    2. in addition to this, misconceptions about rhinoceroses by people who had never seen one, a misconception inadvertently created by a several thousand mile game of telephone (aka Chinese whispers), across the centuries
    3. beliefs created by 2) only served to reinforce and undergird legends that arose from 1), and this new creature henceforth came to be known as a "unicorn"

    Griffins
    1. either a nearsighted person, and/or a person who has a fertile imagination, is the "witness"
    2. this person saw an eagle perched on a lion
    3. and/or forced perspective merges lion and eagle, and instead of seeing two separate animals, from their honest yet mistaken perceptions and understandings, they are seeing an entirely new creature, henceforth referred to in many nations as a "griffin"

    Dragons
    1. people find dinosaur fossils, and having no concept of the vastness of time, assume whatever creature they came from must exist contemporaneously with them
    2. these people have naturally seen the skeletons of animals that had recently died/been slaughtered for meat, which reinforces the idea that if there's a skeleton, it must be a contemporaneous creature
    3. dinosaur fossils become the bones of a recently deceased dragon, perhaps slain by some hero, and people come up with rich legends and myths regarding the nature of dragons, such as where they live (caves, where the fossils were found), what they eat (their large skulls/jaws mean they must eat men in one single bite), their personalities (sharp teeth and resemblance to reptiles/crocodiles must mean dragons are naturally carnivorous, dangerous, and possibly evil beings)
    4. because the fossils were found in proximity to precious and other metals, in places such as caves, legends are created regarding the greed and avarice of dragons
    5. the fact that no one has ever seen a living dragon, or cannot prove it, means that dragons are extraordinarily intelligent, tricky, and crafty beings, and are masters of keeping themselves hidden
    Last edited by Ironduke; 30 Apr 18, at 07:16.
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    Certainly in Classic Hellas and Rome dinosaur bones/fossils were regarded as evidence of mythical monsters.

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    Dragons are crocs, gators, and snakes. Try describing a croc or a boa constrictor to a farmer in ancient times who never seen these things and they start imagining dragons.

    It is certainly evident that the ancient cultures without dragons, Eygpt and South America, had crocs, gators, and snakes as their gods.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    Werewolves
    1. people who had never seen a man/person wearing a wolf pelt before, saw a person wearing one
    2. their mind simply couldn't understand what they were seeing, they had no concept of the idea that men could wear wolf pelts, so their fertile imagination led them to believe they saw a man/wolf hybrid
    3. this applies to other types of "were"-animals, such as werebears
    4. could, in addition, be a case of forced perspective/nearsightedness, where from a distance forced perspective merges a man and wolf in the eyes of the witness
    The werewolf conception in its earliest conveyed fictional representation - in Gilgamesh - is more like one that simply transmuted the earlier veneration of such anthopomorphized animal figures - established since at least 35,000 years ago - into a punishment handed down by gods that were represented in a manlike fashion. This transfer likely occured sometime around 4,500 years ago with the transition from shamanist hunter-gatherer communities to organized-religion city dwellers.

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    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kato View Post
    The werewolf conception in its earliest conveyed fictional representation - in Gilgamesh - is more like one that simply transmuted the earlier veneration of such anthopomorphized animal figures - established since at least 35,000 years ago - into a punishment handed down by gods that were represented in a manlike fashion. This transfer likely occured sometime around 4,500 years ago with the transition from shamanist hunter-gatherer communities to organized-religion city dwellers.
    Quote Originally Posted by WABs_OOE View Post
    Dragons are crocs, gators, and snakes. Try describing a croc or a boa constrictor to a farmer in ancient times who never seen these things and they start imagining dragons.

    It is certainly evident that the ancient cultures without dragons, Eygpt and South America, had crocs, gators, and snakes as their gods.
    In my opinion, things like this are not necessarily a binary, i.e. "it's either this, or that, but not both."

    Could be what you've just mentioned, combined with what I've mentioned.

    Much as on a test in school or university, the answer could be a "multiple choice" combination, or "all of the above".
    Last edited by Ironduke; 28 Apr 18, at 19:02.
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    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    But what can explain Ogopogo ?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ogopogo

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    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Nymphs
    1. you're far away from home, or at least, "far enough"
    2. you come across some girl you don't know, from another village, hanging out near a body of water, bathing, or swimming, and having an all-around good time
    3. she takes a liking to you, and really, really wants to be with you, and you with her
    4. she is uninhibited, because there's no chance of anyone back in her village finding out that she was such a "bad girl"
    5. you have an ecstatic time with her, almost seems "magical"
    6. girls/women you know back in your village aren't like that at all, so she must be an entirely new type of creature, henceforth termed a
      "nymph"
    7. if she gets pregnant, she lies and tells everyone it was an "immaculate conception", a child fathered by one of the gods; or, the male was a satyr, and she found herself helpless, unable to resist the satyr's advances

    Loch Ness Monster
    1. people find brontosaurus-like dinosaur fossils, and having no concept of the vastness of time, assume whatever creature they came from must exist contemporaneously with them
    2. these people have naturally seen the skeletons of animals that had recently died/been slaughtered for meat, which reinforces the idea that if there's a skeleton, it must be a contemporaneous creature
    3. somebody who is near-sighted and/or has a fertile imagination sees a whale that swam into a loch near where the fossils were found
    4. must be an entirely new type of creature, henceforth known as the "Loch Ness Monster"
    Last edited by Ironduke; 28 Apr 18, at 21:19.
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    Before the 20th Century, the Loch Ness Monster was always referred to as a Sturgeon.

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    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WABs_OOE View Post
    Before the 20th Century, the Loch Ness Monster was always referred to as a Sturgeon.
    Sounds very plausible. I may be overthinking it, or there could be multiple sources that may explain the creation of the Loch Ness Monster myth.
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    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Double Edge View Post
    But what can explain Ogopogo ?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ogopogo
    My take.

    Like a fisherman's tale where he caught a minnow and told everyone he caught a whale -- someone saw an eel, got scared, got made fun of, so he said it's 40-50 feet long, to get everyone to believe he was totally justified in being so scared.

    The story then passed into legend and became gospel truth.
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    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WABs_OOE View Post
    Dragons are crocs, gators, and snakes. Try describing a croc or a boa constrictor to a farmer in ancient times who never seen these things and they start imagining dragons.

    It is certainly evident that the ancient cultures without dragons, Eygpt and South America, had crocs, gators, and snakes as their gods.
    I've noticed that Chinese dragons are more snake-like in form, and Western dragons look like winged dinosaurs.

    Could be that the Chinese dragon is more heavily based on what you mentioned - snakes, boas, etc., with a smaller proportion of dinosaur, whereas the Western dragon is more heavily dinosaur-based, as snapper had mentioned.

    I'm leaning toward conflation of all these elements, to different degrees, in different places, as being the source of the dragon myth(s).

    It is certainly evident that the ancient cultures without dragons, Eygpt and South America, had crocs, gators, and snakes as their gods.
    That's interesting, I never knew that they were missing dragons in their myths/religions.
    What I don't want to see is the Bills winning a Super Bowl. As long as I'm alive that doesn't happen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Double Edge View Post
    But what can explain Ogopogo ?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ogopogo
    This has been debated before. Observe:

    Far better it is to dare mighty things, than to take rank with those poor, timid spirits who know neither victory nor defeat ~ Theodore Roosevelt

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    Seriously though I find this sort of thing fascinating, the relatively mundane being mistaken for something far more fantastical.

    Conspiracy theories and/or alien UFO sightings fall into this category perfectly. I think it all boils down to People Want To Believe

    Speaking of werewolves, I'm sure that especially hirsute people, or even worse, people suffering from hypertrichosis, were believed to be werewolves and paid for it with their lives :(
    Far better it is to dare mighty things, than to take rank with those poor, timid spirits who know neither victory nor defeat ~ Theodore Roosevelt

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    Nymphs
    1. you're far away from home, or at least, "far enough"
    2. you come across some girl you don't know, from another village, hanging out near a body of water, bathing, or swimming, and having an all-around good time
    3. she takes a liking to you, and really, really wants to be with you, and you with her
    4. she is uninhibited, because there's no chance of anyone back in her village finding out that she was such a "bad girl"
    5. you have an ecstatic time with her, almost seems "magical"
    6. girls/women you know back in your village aren't like that at all, so she must be an entirely new type of creature, henceforth termed a
      "nymph"
    7. if she gets pregnant, she lies and tells everyone it was an "immaculate conception", a child fathered by one of the gods; or, the male was a satyr, and she found herself helpless, unable to resist the satyr's advances
    I read somewhere that native women, encountering white men for the first time and finding their appearance completely ridiculous, offered them their sexual favors out of sheer gratitude for the comic relief.
    Far better it is to dare mighty things, than to take rank with those poor, timid spirits who know neither victory nor defeat ~ Theodore Roosevelt

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    I've noticed that Chinese dragons are more snake-like in form, and Western dragons look like winged dinosaurs.

    Could be that the Chinese dragon is more heavily based on what you mentioned - snakes, boas, etc., with a smaller proportion of dinosaur, whereas the Western dragon is more heavily dinosaur-based, as snapper had mentioned.

    I'm leaning toward conflation of all these elements, to different degrees, in different places, as being the source of the dragon myth(s).
    Both are based on live witness accounts. An Eygptian trying to explain a croc to a German

    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    That's interesting, I never knew that they were missing dragons in their myths/religions.
    They had serpents, ie snakes. People tried to lump them in as dragons because they had wings or such. I put the divide at if it had legs, it's a dragon. If it doesn't have legs, it's a snake. A big snake, no matter how big, is no dragon.

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