Ancient people and medieval people liked exotic animals. Some were mythical, but based off real animals. Unicorns were described since antiquity. It is thought that animals like the orynx turned so one horn shows was an animal with one horn like a unicorn or a rhinoceros was misinterpreted by explorers. Exotic animals fascinated ancient people and they were often misinterpreted and wild rumors got around to people about exotic animals. Other examples of exotic animals that were told of inaccurately are giraffes, whales, and crocodiles. Giraffes were thought to be a mixture of animals, whales were depicted as giant fish with scales, and crocodiles had a more dog-like appearance. In the Middle Ages, people were equally fascinated by exotic animals. They put a religious significance on many animals too. They were also just as vulnerable to misinterpret many animals too. Some people may have thought unicorns, griffins and dragons for example, were real because the Bible mentioned some of them and the Bible was the “word of God”. (Note the Bible was written by ancient people who may have misinterpreted real animals and came up with fake ones!) Others probably didn’t. People in the Renaissance also were fascinated as more explorers talked about exotic animals from their travels. Some weren’t believed when they were telling the truth! Exotic animals did make their way over to places on occasions, and were a great spectacle!
(An elephant! It kind of looks like a prehistoric animal to me…)