Here's a speculative take on ANIMALIA PARADOXA, a section of an old latin book where early naturalist Carl Linnaeus first developed the system for taxonomy. This section of the book was an attempt to "de-mystify" some of the more fabulous mythological beasts from that era, trying to either classify their species or disprove their existence. Some of the animals he presented in his book were in fact, real, like the Pelican, Narwhal, and Antelope, though most were classic mythological beasts. Inspired by the cryptozoologicon, I've attempted to classify these mythological creatures using our own knowledge of modern biology:

DRAGONS (I've separated them into two animals, being widely different between cultures):

DRAGON(eastern): A carnivorous cousin of the pangolin, both sharing a common ancestor, the Eastern Dragons vary in size, shape, and strength depending on the prey they specialize in hunting, but all of them have common features: their long, primitive jaws full of sharp teeth, their large, scaly keratin armor running down their backs, their elongated body and prehensile tail, hoofed or clawed feet, an elongated stretch of whiskers forming a "fu-manchu"-type mustache (purpose unknown,likely a sensory organ or for display), and an elongated, ridged crest, running from the nostrils up to the back of the skull, forming horns similar to a stag. These horns function similar to hadrosaurs, for bellowing across long distances to communicate. For unknown reasons, they rub their nostrils in powder, blowing it out in a smoke-like substance when they exhale (giving rise to the myth of fire breath). Though once common, from the tree-climbing, intelligent Lung to the gigantic, hoofed, tails Ky-rin, their numbers have been greatly reduced post-miocene thanks to competition with Tigers and humanity.

DRAGONS(western): Not at all related to the eastern mammalian dragons, these creatures are distant relics of the Eocene, giant, predatory relatives of Draco Volans. Though cold-blooded, they escape the colder areas of Europe by taking refuge in caves, coming out during the summer to small animals, Sadly, humanity has considered these creatures a threat due their alleged tendencies to kill cattle and children, though actual records blame these attacks by feral dogs and humans. These Dragons were hunted to extinction, the only remaining lineage being the burrowing, basal Tatzelwurm and flying Lindorm in the Swedish Alps.


HARPY: Though legends have twisted the description of these creatures over time, they are nothing like the bird-faced hags you read about in Greek literature. Rather, they are a relic breed of gigantic Microchiroptera, evolved during the Ice Age to feed on sick or dying animals during the megafauna migrations. It is believed they gained their long, stringy hair to blend into megafauna they clung to during hibernation. Post Ice-Age, a relic population lived on a couple Greek Islands, and early explorers may have seen them(or at least, found their bones). Roughly around the size of a small dog with a flat, vaguely humanoid face, they were highly aggressive, voracious predators. Feeding on groin-dwelling prey, humanity would definitely be on their list. A larger subspecies that persisted on in he mainland mountains may also be responsible for legends of the Furies, bat-winged creatures that serve the Underworld.

MANTICORE: A basal offshoot from the Dragon lineage, Manticores are less specialized, cat-like creatures that roam Persia. Their segmented tails, the underside coated with keratinous barbs that can be shot for defense, may have given rise to the myths of them having scorpion tails. Their jaws have a "cookie-cutter"-type bite, likened to Xenosmilus, but heavily reinforced for crushing bone. Younger Manticore's adult teeth push up behind their baby teeth, resembling the jaws of a shark. Living in the desert, food is scarce, so Manticores would literally consume the whole carcass, bones and all, for sustenance. They have even been known to drop bones from heights, similar to beard vultures, just to suck the marrow out easier. Though rare today, Manticores are frightening reminders of just how creative evolution can get.


LAMIA: The carnivorous snake-woman of Greek lore really isn't a snake at all. And not always a woman. Lamias are a freshwater offshoot of the mermaid lineage, beluga-like basal cetaceans that evolved from early limbed whales such as Rhodhocetus. Though these creatures really do just resemble beluga whales with flat, frog-like faces and webbed, clawed front limbs, their musth-like aggressiveness towards fisherman during mating season have given rise to myths of them being beautiful sea-maidens (so the unfortunate fishermen could escape embarrassment from their peers.) Their frequent breeding allowed the mermaid lineage to rapidly spread across the oceans and quickly evolve into a number of different niches. Though these creatures only vaguely resemble humanity, Lamias outright evolved to resemble human women. In a form of aggressive mimicry, their proportions visibly altered to resemble that of a female human, even draping their heads in seaweed and fur to resemble hair. Their long, sirenian-like tails, striped and discolored to blend into the rivers, do indeed resemble a water-snake's tail when surfacing. These creatures would swim by settlements, their surfaced backs vaguely resembling a swimming women. Curious villagers would enter the water, and the Lamia would drown and eat them. Another, more advanced relative, the Naiad, was believed to resemble humans even closer. However, specializing in hunting humans was not a wise choice for the species, as it is believed villagers started to hunt them to extinction. With the exception of the melanistic Selkie and clawed, iceberg-scaling Ningen, Mermaids are extinct in today's oceans and freswater streams. Reports of an Indian subspecies, the Naga, has not been confirmed at the time of this writing.

SATYR: Satyrs are a type of old world monkey once common in Europe, taking to the ground once the climate decimated their forests in the miocene. Tailless, their hind feet have evolved into hoof-like structures to escape carnivores and scale mountains. Tufts of fur grew above male's eyebrows, vaguely resembling small horns. Fossil sites show these creatures were as intelligent as early man, developing flute pipes, drums, and musical instruments. While once common in Europe, their species was decimated by the oncoming humanity. Today, only a couple relic populations dwell in the less-populated regions of Europe, and possibly America, if the studies of John Conway prove to be correct. Hopefully, we can one day contact these wild-men, a new branch of the primate evolutionary tree.


SIREN: What I've noted about the Siren is that all reports of it vary. Sometimes, it's a shapeshifter. Other times, a bird with a human face. Other times, a mermaid or water-sprite. All that remains consistent in the legends is that it lures sailors to their deaths with song. But is it really the song that lures them? Sirens are a breed of parrot, another creature forced to evolve during the cooling of Europe. Restricted to a single island, they are four-foot tall, flightless carnivores, attacking prey in large packs. During mating season, they would cluster on the beaches, making a strange, song-like warble to attract females. Lots of pheromones would be released into the atmosphere, blown into the faces of sailors passing by. This pheromone would make the sailor's brains release a monstrously high dosage of dopamine, making them immediately addicted to an unknown source. Hearing the Siren Song, they would associate it with the high, and jump into the waves. Swimming ashore, the proto-junkie would run into a beach full of hungry, frustrated carnivorous parrots, who would swarm him for a free meal. These creatures are now extinct, presumably hunted to extinction as all flightless birds are, but the strange birds have more than left their mark on history.

PHOENIX: A majestic, flying bird, similar to a bird of paradise, Phoenixes were an omnivorous, rare Arabian bird that was known for it's interesting mating dance. During mating season, the male birds would construct a nest of various good-smelling spice plants, and develop a defective sheen on it's feathers. Fanning their reddish-orange feathers, they would sit atop their nest and do a mating dance for females. The reflective feathers and fanning wings gave early naturalists an impression of a burning fire. Females, being brownish, drab birds, would not be recognized as phoenixes by early naturalists. The females would wait as the males collapsed from exhaustion, one-by-one. The last one standing would be swarmed by the females, positioning the eggs under the male's corpse for warmth. The females would feed off the carcass and incubate the eggs until they hatched. While this unique bird didn't come under humanity's fire, it is likely the inbreeding resulting from their practices took them out. However, their unique habits were distorted by myth and legend, leading to immortal fire-bird we know today.


VEGTABLE LAMB: A cousin of the Chinese Mandrake root, also known as the Knotweed, the Vegetable Lamb has been selective bred by Chinese farmers so it's roots look like a sheep. Though once sold frequently as a novelty item, the plant's status is unknown today and possibly extinct. Aside from it's weird appearance, it is almost certainly not a sheep and has no medicinal effects.

HAMBURG HYDRA(not pictured): A taxonomic fraud constructed from weasel heads and snakes skins. Nuff said.

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