The First Unicorn Description!

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In the book Indica,which describes India, a Greek historian of the 5th century named Ctesias described many fantastical creatures, such as unicorns, manticores and griffins. Indica only survives today in fragments written by Photius,Patriarch of Constantinople.

Concerning the unicorn,he wrote:

In India, there are wild asses as large as horses, or even larger. Thier body is white, their eyes bluish, and they have a horn on their forehead about a cubit in length. The lower part of the horn is quite white, the middle is black, and the upper part, which terminates in a point, is a very flaming red.

Their faces are also reddish, which is sometimes mentioned in reproductions of this description, sometimes not.

It is thought that since Ctesias never traveled to India, and wrote from the accounts of others, that this description may have been based on an Arabian Oryx seen in profile:
side  Oryx




Heraldry: The Amphisbaena!


A reptile of the medieval period’s legends and folklore, the amphisbaena’s name is derived from the Greek word meaning “to go both ways”. It is a formidable adversary, able to run and fly(if winged) in both directions, clutch with its eagle-like talons, and bite with venomous fangs. It has glowing eyes that can penetrate the darkness.
it is thought to be inspired by an actual reptile, that lives in Lybian deserts,that can run both ways and has a tail (that is raises like a head at the threat of danger) that resembles a head–the worm lizard.

Monsters of Africa: The Catoblepas.

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As the stories of the Catoblepas originate in Ethiopia, it is thought to have sprung from encounters with wildebeest. Most of the time the creature is described as being a mid-sized herbivore, about the size of a domestic bull, with bloodshot or glowing eyes, and a heavy, shaggy mane of hair. The head was so heavy that the beast could only look down. In some descriptions, the animal’s gaze was lethal and could turn men to stone(making its downward gaze very fortunate), and sometimes its breath was poison, since it ate only poisonous vegetation.

Monsters of Africa: The Ninki Nanka!

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The Ninki Nanka is from West African folklore. It is said to have the head of a horse with three horns; two horns point out or backward and the third central horn points forward. It has the neck of a giraffe and the body of a crocodile.
According to legend, it mostly feeds on cocky children; it is extremely large and dangerous and when children disobey their parents and go into the swamp by themselves, they fall victim to the Ninki Nanka.
It is also seen as an omen of imminent death. Nearly everyone who has claimed to have seen it has died shortly afterward.
It is possible that the beast may have been inspired by dinosaur fossils—Africa has been a rich source of sauropod bones.