These seven amazing creatures I am going to talk about were once thought only to be a myth. These once legends of the animal kingdom are Mountain Gorilla, Okapi, Komodo Dragon, Giant Panda, Platypus,Giant Squid, Giant Bird- Eating Spider are incredible finds that gives us a sense of wonder and discovery to look for other animals that are thought to only be myths.
Mountain Gorilla – For centuries there was talk by the natives of Eastern Africa about “mountain men” and “monstrous apes” which did not reach the Western world until 1861. But these incredible tales of such a creature was quickly dismissed as local tales just like that of Loch ness Monster of Scotland. But in 1898, an explorer named Ewert Grogan discovered some skeletal remains of a large animal but was not able to bring the bones down from the mountains. Then in 1902, an army officer Captain Robert von Beringe and his crew shot two of these apes and had one of the corpses sent to the Zoological Museum in Berlin, Germany for examination. They were able to classify this new form of Gorilla and gave it the scientific named Gorilla beringei, for the man who discovered it.
Okapi– This incredible myth that turned species was something like a cross between a giraffe and a zebra. In 1890, when word of this mismatched animal reached the western world, it was quickly ridiculed as yet another mythical animal mix like a centaur (half-man/half-horse). It was not until 1901, when Sir harry Johnston traveled to the Africa Congo to search for this mysterious animal. this is when he found the real proof of its existence. He was able to obtain a full Okapi skin and two skulls, thereby providing irrefutable proof that this was indeed a real species of animal. This discovery led to the animal getting the scientific name Okapi johnsoni , in honor of the explorer who relentlessly pursued its existence.
Komodo Dragon – There was many stories of “land crocodiles” on Komodo Island. the Dutch Colonial administration in Indonesia sent Lieutenant van Steyn van Hensbroek to look for this creature in 1910. He later sent photographs and a skin of this creature to Peter Ouwens, the Director of the Bogor Zoological Museum in Java. Ouwens scientifically classified the animal, naming it Varanus komodoensis, in his scientific paper of 1912. But the western world, including scientists laughed at the notion of living dragons or huge lizards. But in 1926 they were proven to be real creatures when W. Douglas Burden led an expedition to the island. He saw these creatures with his own eyes and was able to bring back twelve dead and two live dragons for the world to see. this irrefutable evidence was undeniable and his original Komodo dragon specimens can be seen in a exhibit in the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
Giant Panda – Scientists love the discovery story of the Giant Panda because it proves that an animal can evade capture for decades. Towards the end of the 19th century there were many stories of large black and white bears living in China that reached the western world. But their reaction to such a story was that it was nothing but another mythical beast like the yeti. In 1869, a French missionary Armand David was able to obtain a skin from local hunters, though he never saw one himself. Over the next 60 years many professionally-outfitted expeditions went to China in search of this mysterious animal but however all these expeditions came back empty handed. But in 1936, Mrs. William Harkness, whose husband died on a Panda expedition, found a baby panda in Northern China, and sent it to the Chicago Zoo. This goes to show that large species of animals can remain hidden in nature for a long period of time, even when they are intensely being searched for. Interesting note about the Giant Panda. it actually is related to the raccoon, and is not a bear which was one once thought as.
Platypus – Beginning in 1797 many rumors began to reach Europe that a strange duck-billed, egg laying beaver lived amongst the rivers of Australia. Captain John hunter, the second Governor of New South Wales, later that year received a pelt and a sketch of this intriguing creature, which he then sent to some scientists in the United Kingdom. These scientists thought he sent them a hoax thinking the skin was merely pieced together from a duck and a beaver. But to the amazement of George Shaw, a scientist who closely examined the pelt with scissors, could not find any stitches or glue and determined the animal was real. In 1799, Shaw published a detailed scientific description of it in “The Naturalists Miscellany”.
Giant Squid – This was thought to be a creature made up by sailors. The stories of this creature called it the “Kraken“. But from time to time evidence of this creature would wash up onto the beaches. Recently they were able to photograph a live Giant Squid that they baited. This incredible creature that lives in the dark depths of the sea is not a myth but a real creature that goes to show that people who spot mysterious creatures and report them are not foolish or crazy, but are actually helping scientists who are searching for new kinds of animals.
Giant Bird-Eating Spider – Recently an explorer found an incredible huge spider that was over a foot long in diameter. In South America there is huge tarantulas that can kill birds. This recent discovery makes this spider the largest in the world. People sometimes cringe at seeing a spider, but to see this one would make one run. This leads to the question. could there be bigger spiders waiting to be discovered? Only time will tell.
Finding new animals is exciting in itself! Something that was fantastic was the rediscovery of the Coelacanth that was once thought to be extinct. A fisherman who netted a coelacanth off the coast of South Africa in 1938, changed a lot of minds of people who believed coelacanths died out 65 million years ago with the dinosaurs. Because up until their discovery they were only found in the fossil record.
What fantastic new discoveries await us on earth concerning the animal kingdom. God created these amazing creatures and we must give Him the glory and thanks that we can see these creatures before they become extinct like the dinosaurs that once lived on planet Earth.
“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power :for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Revelation 4:11)