The Quick Report

10 Mythological Creatures Who Turned Out to Be Real

Legends of mythical creatures abound throughout the world. Many folklore tales speak of characteristics that seem impossible. However, these 10 creatures actually exist and we’ve been mistaking them for something else.

10. Mermaids

a Manatee swimming in the water
Photo by Jakub Pabis via Unsplash

The creatures people throughout time have called Mermaids are actually manatees or dugongs. Both animals are called sea cows. Fully grown, they’re around six feet long, with five human finger-like bones on their flippers. They can turn their necks and stand in shallow water like humans. Spot their fish-like rears sticking out of the water and you’ve got a mermaid.

9. Kraken 

Giant Squid
NASA via Wikipedia

Ancient mariners told of a humongous, octopus-like creature rising out of the sea with multiple, strong arms, pulling down ships and eating the crew. They called this creature a kraken. In reality, what sailors encountered was a giant squid. They live so deep underwater information is limited. However, they are known to grow up to nearly 60 feet in length.

8. Dragons

brown dinosaur illustration
Photo by Fausto García-Menéndez via Unsplash

Legends of dragons exist the world over growing back into antiquity. They’re described as reptile-like creatures with bat-like wings and sharp claws. Some breathe fire. What ancient peoples called dragons we know as dinosaurs. In ancient China, where dragon tales abound, these legends emerged after fossils of dinosaurs were found.

7. Pouakai 

Haast's Eagle
John Megahan via Wikipedia

New Zealand’s Maori people told of a giant flying bird that snatched up humans, carried them away, and ate them. They called this creature Pouakai. In reality, this creature was a Haast Eagle, the largest eagle ever, with a wingspan of nearly 10 feet. Mainly preyed on the larger, now extinct, Moa bird. Both birds evolved independently of humans.

6. Roc


Ancient mariners told of a massive bird off the coast of Africa called a Roc that could lift an elephant off the ground. In reality, the Roc is the extinct Aepyornis or elephant bird, possibly the largest bird ever, and lived in Madagascar. It didn’t lift elephants because it was flightless and much smaller, and Madagascar doesn’t have elephants. 

5. Unicorns

grey rhino lying beside grey cut logs
Photo by Ashes Sitoula via Unsplash

Unicorns are a mythical horse with a single horn in the middle of its head. Scientists say unicorns existed, but they weren’t horses – they were rhinoceroses. The Siberian unicorn was a larger, and stronger type of rhinoceros that lived in Eurasia until going extinct around 39,000 years ago. They were herbivores. They may have been more aggressive than modern rhinos.

4. Griffins

Kazvorpal via Wikipedia

A Griffin is a mythical hybrid with the face, wings, and front legs of an eagle, and the hind legs, rear end, and tail of a lion, and flying capabilities. In reality, griffins were dinosaurs called protoceratops. They had a beak. In the past, people believed only birds had beaks. Protoceratops had long shoulder blades, which were mistaken for wings.


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3. Sea Serpent

giant oarfish
Sandstein via Wikipedia

Legends of sea serpents, a fish-snake hybrid, abound worldwide into antiquity. Like many tales, the features of the creature get heavily exaggerated. In reality, the sea serpent is an oarfish that looks like a fish-snake hybrid. The giant oarfish (Regalecus glesne) is the longest bony fish alive, growing up to 56 feet. Information is limited as they live deep underwater.

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2. Yeti

Himalayan Brown Bear
Zoo Hluboka via Wikipedia

The Yeti is an apelike creature said to inhabit the Himalayan mountains. It’s also called the Abominable Snowman and is commonly compared to North America’s Bigfoot, with similar descriptions. In reality, the Yeti is the Himalayan black and brown bear of the Asian mountain range. DNA tests proved that most of the alleged “Yeti samples” come from these bears.

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1. Gorillai

black gorilla lying on wooden surface
Photo by Valentin Jorel via Unsplash

Between 400-500 BC, an explorer from Carthage, named Hanno the Navigator, discovered a tribe of Harry and “rude people” along the coast of West Africa. He referred to them as “hairy women” and “Gorillai.” Scientists debate whether Hanno saw gorillas or another species of ape. Nonetheless, these animals were later named gorillas, and designated as apes, not some type of humans.

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