Sunday, 27 July 2014

Mythical monsters and ancient fossils

The idea that humans stumbling over fossils influenced myths is not new, but can we link mythical monsters to *specific* fossils? Classical folklorist Adrienne Mayor says, yes we can. Intrigued by this idea I decided to investigate her claims a bit further.

Mayor is a classical folklorist and uses historical texts, place names and cultural artefacts as evidence for ancient interactions with fossils. You could call it 'historical cryptozoology', or as she does geomythology. It's all very interesting, but necessarily involves some speculation. So I picked three cases to see how much that speculation was warranted.