3 Animals That Were Mistaken for Mythical Creatures

Some animals are so alien and alien-looking, that their discovery can beg us believe. And though mermaids and dragons are tall tales to most of us, a lot of mythical creatures were based on reality. Here are 3 animals that have been mistaken for mythological creatures, proving that sometimes fact is truly just as strange as fiction!

The Okapi

Some believe this deer-like mammal to be the origin of the unicorn. The okapi lives in the rain forests in Africa and looks like a combination of a zebra, giraffe, and antelope. Male okapis have two horns, and when you see them from the side, it appears as one, like a unicorn. Many creatures have reinforced the mythical unicorn; for example, when European explorers first encountered narwhal tusks, many of them believed this was evidence of unicorns. That being said, the okapi is probably the creature that started it all!


The Gigantopithecus, which are now extinct, were apes that lived in the forests of Asia. They are the most enormous ape that ever lived; they stood up to 10 feet tall and weighed more than 1,000 pounds. Fossils that were found of the creature were what led to the myth of the Yeti. Some researchers even believe its viable populations of the beast may have continued into modern times, giving root to the Bigfoot tale.

Colossal Squid

The fable of the mythical sea monster known as the Kraken, which in most depictions resembles a large cephalopod originated from sightings of the colossal squid. The colossal squid’s limbs have sharp hooks, some of which swivel. Because these animals prefer to swim in deep ocean waters, sightings of giant squid are rare but possible.