+

6 creatures from fairy tales that actually roamed the Earth.

So it turns out unicorns might be real.

Photo by Henry Guttmann/Getty Images.


Yeah. Researchers in Kazakhstan were working on a fossil site when they found the remains of a giant, ancient rhinoceros-like animal known as Elasmotherium sibiricum.

When they measured how old the bones were, they found something really cool: The bones were only around 26,000 years old!

Scientists typically thought all these creatures died out more like 350,000 years ago, so this has some cool scientific implications for the species. It helps us understand why this small population of animals survived, when their cousins died off, and what the environment was like in the past.

But this also has an interesting implication for fairy tales too.

If these creatures are only 26,000 years old, they probably lived around the same time as early humans. So unicorn stories may not be purely-fantastical myths, but instead an ancient memory of finding an E. sibiricum, passed down through the ages.

Yes. Unicorns could be real.

In honor of these maybe-not-so-mythical beasts, here are six real-life creatures that might have inspired our other favorite monsters and fairy tales. These are just a handful of theories, of course, and many other explanations are possible, but if these are true, they say something really cool.

1. To inaugurate our list, this is the real unicorn in all it's ... uh ... glory?

The Siberian Unicorn, in all it's glory. Image from Rashevsky/Wikimedia Commons.

I guess they might have been a bit ... less majestic than the ones in "The Last Unicorn." In fact, E. sibiricum would have been huge — nearly the size of a mammoth — covered in fur and built like a tank with a 24/7 gym membership. That'd definitely give any bad guy some serious pause before trying to capture one!

2. Next up, Herodotus' giant crazy ants.

GIF from "Them!" behind the scenes archive footage.

Herodotus was a Greek writer known for writing down just about anything he overheard, a habit that earned him the title "The Father of History." But some of the things he wrote down were kind of weird.

Like his stories that India was full of giant, furry, man-eating ants. The ants' burrows were also apparently covered in gold, which the locals would try to scoop up before the giant, aggressive ants would chase them away.

Crazy, right?

But it turns out that Herodotus might not have been off his rocker, just the victim of a really bad game of telephone. Because it turns out that high on the Deosai Plateau in northern Pakistan, there are big, furry creatures that sometimes bring gold dust up out of the Earth.

Only they're probably not ants. They're marmots.

Image from Pixel-mixer/Pixabay.

Herodotus didn't travel himself; he just wrote down the stories other people told him. So it's possible that by the time the story got from Pakistan to Greece, someone mistranslated it (and added the man-eating part because, let's face it, it's not a good story until someone gets eaten).

3. Also, a real-life "little mermaid" would make for a very different movie...

Ursula may have needed to give Ariel more than just legs before Prince Eric would fall for that. Image from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Endangered Animals/Flickr.

Some people think that the common depiction of mermaids as half-human, half-fish creatures may have come from early sightings of manatees. In fact, even Columbus' crew probably saw them, although, they noted, "...they are not so beautiful as they are said to be." Ha!

We still honor this connection today. The latin name for the manatee order, sirenia, comes from the myth of the sirens, who often look like mermaids.

4. Westeros isn't the only place that's full of dragons.

"We may be tiny now..." GIF from "Game of Thrones."

No story of a knight in shining armor would be complete without that knight slaying a giant fire-breathing dragon to rescue a town or damsel from peril.

But what if they were actually only a few inches long and didn’t breath fire, but just hung out in super misty places? Head on over to Postojna Cave in Slovenia right now, and you might just catch a glimpse of baby dragons hatching — or at least, a creature that may have inspired the dragon.

Not quite as intimidating, but catch it at the right time of night, and the olm is still a scary creature. Photo by Jure Kaovec/Stringer/Getty Images.

Olms are blind salamanders that live in caves, grow up to 16 inches long, and sport a neck frill that looks similar to what you might expect a dragon to have. The story goes that during heavy storms, they might have gotten washed out of their caves and into streams, where people found them — and being a weird, long snake-thing, they must have obviously been baby dragons, right?

What's more, try to find their lair and you'd end up outside a big cave filled with mist, which could’ve been mistaken for smoke in yesteryear. And where there's smoke, there's fire!

5. Imagine catching a kraken on your next fishing trip.

Batten down the hatches! GIF from "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest."

Many sailors dreaded coming across the kraken during their travels. The massive tentacled monster was said to have eaten whales, destroyed ships, and dragged sailors down to the watery depths, never to be seen again.

But it seems reports of the kraken might have just been about the giant squid, a creature capable of growing to lengths of … well, no one is really sure. Some estimates put them at 18 meters long — nearly 60 feet —but many believe that to be too far.

A giant, giant squid caught off the coast of New Zealand in 1996. Photo from Barry Durrant/Getty Images.

Ask any sailor who’s come across the kraken and survived, though, and they’d say a mile and a half is too small.

6. The cyclops may have been much, much weirder than you imagine.

But seriously, how does depth perception work? GIF from" The 7th Voyage of Sinbad."

When Odysseus and his men spent years finding their way home from Troy, one of their stops was on an island inhabited by a man-eating cyclops. It was only through quick thinking that Odysseus was able to escape without getting munched!

Of course, that’s all just the stuff of myths, right?

Many believe that ancient Greeks and Romans based their mythology on the world around them, and the creatures they created came from the bones they found. So the cyclops, as National Geographic guesses, could have actually been much wrinklier. And less human. And had a trunk.

And two eyes.

Behold! The real cyclops. Image from Dmitri Bogdanov/Wikimedia Commons.

It was an early relative of the elephant, Deinotherium giganteum, and the place where it’s trunk was became the cyclops’ single giant terrifying eye.

So what can this tell us about fairy tales? Well, our ancestors may not have known the exact animal names we know today, but they weren't dumb.

They did their best to make sense of the world around them through the stories they told, stories that were passed around and elaborated as they aged. Through those stories, they created characters that captured our imaginations.

And it seems as if some stories may have held more truth than we gave them credit for.

The Prince Charles Cinema/Youtube

Brendan Fraser dressed as Rick O'Connell.

Brendan Fraser might be making the greatest career comeback ever, racking up accolades and award nominations for his dramatic, transformative role in “The Whale." But the OG Fraser fans (the ones who watch “Doom Patrol” solely to hear his voice and proudly pronounce his last name as Fray-zure, for this is the proper pronunciation) have known of his remarkable talent since the 90s, when he embodied the ultimate charming, dashing—and slightly goofball—Hollywood action lead.

Let us not forget his arguably most well known and beloved 90s character—Rick O’Connell from the “Mummy” franchise. Between his quippy one-liners, Indiana Jones-like adventuring skills and fabulous hair, what’s not to like?

During a double feature of “The Mummy” and “The Mummy Returns” in London, moviegoers got the ultimate surprise when who should walk in but Brendan Fraser himself, completely decked out in Rick O’Connell attire. The brown leather jacket. The scarf. Everything.

Keep ReadingShow less
@boglarkagyorgy/Instagram

"The Trout," performed by Samsung.

One might expect to hear Franz Schubert’s "Die Forelle," more widely known as "The Trout," at the philharmonic orchestra. However, Boglarka Gyorgy noticed her washing machine playing the catchy classical tune. Apparently, this is a feature for a particular Samsung line of washing machines.

Being a professional musician herself, she couldn’t resist the urge to grab her violin and perform an impromptu duet with her appliance—and then post it to Instagram, of course. The result was a hilarious, impressive and viral hit.
Keep ReadingShow less
Education

Woman without an internal monologue explains what it's like inside her head

“She's broken my mind. I don't even understand what I'm not understanding."

PA Struggles/Youtube

An estimated 50-70% of the population doesn't have an internal monologue.

The notion of living without an internal monologue is a fairly new one. Until psychologist Russell Hurlburt’s studies started coming out in the late 90s, it was widely accepted that everyone had a little voice narrating in their head. Now Hurlburt, who has been studying people's "inner experience" for 40 years, estimates that only 30-50% of the population frequently think this way.

So what about the other 50-70%? What exactly goes on inside their heads from day to day?

In a video interview originally posted in 2020, a woman named Kirsten Carlson gave some insight into this question, sharing how not having an inner dialogue affected her reading and writing, her interactions with others and how she navigates mental challenges like anxiety and depression. It was eye-opening and mind-blowing.
Keep ReadingShow less
Democracy

Surprising Australian interview from 1974 shows just how weird it was for women to be in a bar

“You think women are going to be shocked by your language—that’s why you don’t want them in here?"

Surprising interview from 1974 shows how weird it was for women to be in a bar.

Once upon a time, things were weird. This is sure to be a sentiment that children of the future will share about the rules and customs of today, but knowing that fact doesn't stop things from the past from seeming a bit strange. In a rediscovered video clip of an Australian *gasp* female reporter in a bar in 1974, it's clear pretty quickly that she's out of place.

It's almost as if she's describing her movements like Steve Irwin would do when approaching a wild animal in its natural habitat. Her tone is even and hushed as she makes her way into the bar telling viewers how she's going to make her way to the barkeep, who also looks to be a woman. So I guess women were allowed to work in bars but not drink in them?

Honestly, that part was a little confusing for me but seemed the norm by the reporter's reaction. But what was not normal was a woman squeezing between men and ordering a drink and the men letting the reporter know that the bar was no place for a woman...unless you're the bartender. Who knows? 1974 was a wild year apparently.

Keep ReadingShow less

Self-dating is one of TikTok's latest trends.

Miley Cyrus' official music video for her new single "Flowers" is less than two weeks old, and it's already racked up a whopping 108 million views on YouTube. The smash hit also broke Spotify's record for the most streams in a single week, knocking K-pop superband BTS and their hit song "Butter" out of the top spot.

There's a reason "Flowers" is making waves. It's not only a catchy tune, but an empowering one, especially for women who've been socialized to believe they need a significant other to make them happy.

While most post-break-up songs are filled with heartache and lament and perhaps a bit of resentment, "Flowers" takes a different tack. While Cyrus sings about not wanting a relationship to end, she ultimately realizes she can give herself what she wants from a partner and it's incredibly liberating.

Keep ReadingShow less

The cake that Karly Blackburn sent to Nike.

Even though the United States is going through a labor shortage, high-profile jobs are still tough as ever to get. In a world where hundreds of applicants send in their resumes for the same job, it can be hard to stand out.

Karly Pavlinac Blackburn of Wilmington, North Carolina, was lamenting that the jobs she wanted were too competitive when a colleague suggested the 27-year-old do something dramatic to get her name out there.

"I was actually talking to my former colleague about getting in front of employers—and he was like, 'Well, Karly you need to do better ... show up in a creative way ... what about a resume on a cake?'" she told Good Morning America.

So Blackburn did just that.

Keep ReadingShow less