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> Long ago when I was a medieval history/literature minor, I read all the
> accounts of dragon-slaying and troll-slaying I could get my hands on, and
> noticed that the wings and fire-breathing generally were later
> embellishments: that the earliest accounts from each culture seemed to
> describe actual encounters with actual animals, of unknown species (much as
> St. Brendan's account of his voyages makes walruses, whales, etc., into
> seemingly fictitious and highly fanciful creatures.) I theorized then that
> the origins of the stories may have involved modern humans systematically
> exterminating a few surviving Neanderthals and perhaps some remnant dinosaur
> or pleisiosaur species. 20-25 years and a long career in ecological
> journalism later, which has produced a much better appreciation of the
> magnitude of evolutionary change, I'm more inclined to think these stories
> were invented to explain the discovery of dinosaur and perhaps Neanderthal
> fossils from time to time. Does anyone have any relevant thoughts?
Well, while I (a historian whose specialties include medieval and
ancient civilizations) have always wanted to believe the former at
heart, my mind has convinced me that your latter theory is probably
the case. I'm sure people were running across dinosaur fossils _long_
before they were "officially" discovered and recognized for what they
really were, and, ancient people being ancient people, they
constructed stories to explain what these things were.
Beowulf and the Niebelungenlied are two of my favorites (though
I had to read the Niebelungenlied _auf Deutsch_).
Some of the more modern myths, though, like "Champ" and "Nessie"
and Bigfoot, I haven't given up on entirely. I guess I like to
have a little mystery left in the world. After all, the Lowland
Gorilla was a myth once, too.
| Sean R. "Snake" Kerns e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org |
| DoD# 1052 '48 CJ-2A '79 F-250 4x4 429 '93 750 Virago |
| Structural Dynamics Research Corporation '79 AQHA |
| These opinions aren't SDRC's... They may not even be MINE... |