I have always wondered where the concept of dragons got its start — speculating that perhaps people imagined their existence after coming across dinosaur bones. Gemma Tarlach brings up a similar theory in this Altas Obscura piece.
No map from antiquity yet found actually declared “Here be dragons,” but the phrase has long been used as an ominous warning, and medieval cartographers tended to fill in the edges of the charted world with massive, snarling monsters. But the fearsome creatures, symbolizing the unknown and likely-not-very-pleasant, had to get their start somewhere. The roots of these legendary beasts may lie with massive bones and other remains of megafauna that went extinct at the end of the last ice age, more than 10,000 years ago. Take a tour through cities still proudly displaying their “dragon” remains, some of which bear uncanny resemblance to woolly mammoth tusks.