Narwhal tusks, mistaken for unicorn horns, were sought after during the Middle Ages through the Renaissance, with English explorer Martin Frobisher presenting one to the queen after encountering a narwhal during his Canadian expedition in 1577.
Pliny the Elder described the unicorn in the first century A.D. as a creature with the head of a stag, feet of an elephant, tail of a boar, and a single black horn on its forehead, originating from India.
The platypus, initially met with skepticism by European naturalists, was described in scientific literature by George Shaw, who expressed doubt despite seeing the creature firsthand.
The discovery of gorillas in 1847 revealed the truth behind ancient tales of mysterious, human-like "monsters" reported by early explorers.
Ancient sea monster legends, such as the Greek Scylla, Bahamian Lusca, and Nordic Kraken, were later identified as real creatures, with the Kraken being described as a giant squid by Norwegian naturalist Japetus Steenstrup in 1853.
Titanoboa, the largest known snake in history, reached lengths of up to 42 feet (12.8 meters) and weighed as much as 2,500 lbs. (1,135 kg).
The myth of the Roc, a giant bird, may have been inspired by analogs in the fossil record such as the Elephant Bird of Madagascar or sailors' accounts of large eagles capable of carrying off newborn lambs.
The Blemmyae may have originated from exaggerated accounts of gorillas, predating their scientific documentation in the mid-1800s, suggesting a connection between the two.
With lengths up to 33 feet and weighing 1,500 lbs., these creatures with strong tentacles, suction cups, and large hooked claws were first described in 1925, despite their knowledge spanning thousands of years.