Burns Bestiary


Just how odd can animals be, before the line crosses from real to imaginary? With beasts as strange as platypuses, flying fish, and long eared bats, it can be hard to tell actual animals from flights of imagination. Early natural historians often did not distinguish between legendary and real creatures, including them all in early zoologies. Even animals like the rhinoceros could be portrayed oddly, perhaps the result of descriptions that grew farther from the truth with each telling. Some mythical creatures, like the unicorn, remain part of popular knowledge and are still found centuries later in storybooks and artists’ notes. Others, like the cacodemon, are virtually unknown to modern audiences.