There are many animals now classified in zoology that were once thought to be just myths or legends. Stories of these creatures traveled slowly from local areas to the Western part of the world, where at first they were considered to be just fantasies and folklore. Here is four of these creatures that were thought to be only legends. They are : Duck-billed Platypus, Okapi, Mountain Gorilla and Komodo Dragon.
Duck-billed platypus : Beginning in 1797, rumors began to reach Europe that a strange duck-billed, egg-laying, beaver lived amongst the rivers in Australia. Later that year Captain John Hunter, the second of New South Wales, received a pelt and sketch of this intriguing creature and in turn mailed it to scientists in the United Kingdom in 1798. The scientists believed the animal was a hoax, and that the skin was merely pieced together from a duck and a beaver. However, when scientist George Shaw closely examined the pelt with scissors, he could not find any stitches or glue, and determined that the animal was real. In 1799, Shaw published a detailed scientific description of the animal in The Naturalist's Miscellany.
Okapi : Looking like a cross between a giraffe and a zebra, the okapi is one of the most incredible myth-turned-real animal species. In 1890 when word of this mismatched animal reached the Western world, it was quickly ridiculed as yet another mythical animal such as a centaur (half man, half horse). It wasn't until 1901, when Sir Harry Johnston traveled to the African Congo to search for this mysterious animal, that real proof of this animals existence was shown. Johnson was able to obtain a full okapi skin and two skulls, thereby providing irrefutable proof that this was indeed a real species of animal. Soon after, the animal was given the scientific name Okapi johnsoni, after the explorer who relentless pursued its existence.
Mountain Gorilla : The natives of Eastern Africa had been talking for centuries about animals they referred to as "mountain men" and monstrous apes, but word didn't reach Westerners until 1861. However, these descriptions were quickly dismissed as local tales. Then, in 1888, an explorer named Ewert Grogan discovered the skeletal remains of this large animal but was unable to bring bones down from the mountains.However, in 1902 army officer Captain Robert von Beringe and his crew shot two of theses creatures and had one of the corpses sent to the Zoological Museum in Berlin for examination. It was then classified as a new form of gorilla and was named Gorilla beringei, after the man who discovered it.
Komodo Dragon : After hearing stories of "land crocodiles" on Komodo Island. Lieutenant van Steyn van Hensbroek, of the Dutch colonial administration in Indonesia, set out to find this creature in 1910. He later sent photographs and a skin 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. However, most of the Western world, including scientists, laughed at the notion of living dragons or huge lizards. It wasn't proven until 1926 when W. Douglas Burden led an expedition to the island, in partnership with the American Museum of Natural History. He saw these creatures with his own eyes and brought back twelve dead and two live dragons for the world to see. At that point, the evidence was undeniable and to this day, Burden's original komodo dragon specimens can be seen displayed in the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
For more information on the Duck-billed Platypus, Okapi, Mountain Gorilla, and Komodo Dragon go to http://www.wikipedia.com .