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Mythical Creatures -

Amazons
The race of Amazons or fighting women, is not yet extinct, ...

Pygmies
The antitheses of men--Dwarfs, and Giants--must not be over...

Giants
This last sentence seems almost a compendium of The History...

Early Men
On the antiquity of man it is impossible to speculate, beca...

Wild Men
Sometimes a specimen of humanity has got astray in infancy,...

Hairy Men
If, as we may conjecture from the above, the ancient Briton...

The Ouran Outan
Transition from hirsute humanity to the apes, is easy, and ...

Satyrs
He also mentions and delineates a curious Ape which closely...

The Sphynx
"The SPHYNGA or Sphinx, is of the kind of Apes, but his bre...

Apes
Sluper, who could soar to the height of delineating a Cyclo...

Animal Lore
We are indebted to Pliny for much strange animal lore--whic...

The Manticora
Of curious animals, other than Apes, depicted as having som...

The Lamia
The Lamiae are mythological--and were monsters of Africa, w...

The Centaur
This extraordinary combination of man and animal is very an...

The Gorgon
In the title-page of one edition of "The Historie of Foure-...

The Unicorn
What a curious belief was that of the Unicorn! Yet what myt...

The Rhinoceros
The true Unicorn is, of course, the Rhinoceros, and this pi...

The Gulo
Olaus Magnus thus describes the Gulo or Gulon:--"Amongst...

The Bear
As Pliny not only uses all Aristotle's matter anent Bears, ...

The Fox
By Englishmen, the Fox has been raised to the height of at ...

The Wolf
The Wolf, as a beast of prey, is invested with a terror pec...

Were-wolves
But of all extraordinary stories connected with the Wolf, i...

The Antelope
When not taken from living specimens, or skins, the arti...

The Horse
Aldrovandus gives us a curious specimen of a horse, which t...

The Mimick Dog
"The Mimicke or Getulian Dogge," is, I take it, meant fo...

The Cat
Aldrovandus gives us a picture of a curly-legged Cat, but, ...

The Lion
Of the great Cat, the Lion, the ancients give many wonderfu...

The Leontophonus The Pegasus The Crocotta
The Lion has a dreadful enemy, according to Pliny, who says...

The Leucrocotta The Eale Cattle Feeding Backwards
"There are oxen, too, like that of India, some with one hor...

Animal Medicine
We have already seen some of the wonderfully curative prope...

The Su
Topsell mentions a fearful beast called the Su. "There is a...

The Lamb-tree
As a change from this awful animal, let us examine the Plan...

The Chimaera
Aldrovandus gives us the accompanying illustration of a ...

The Harpy And Siren
The conjunction of the human form with birds is very eas...

The Barnacle Goose
Of all extraordinary beliefs, that in the Barnacle Goose, w...

Remarkable Egg
No wonder that a credulous age, which could see nothing ...

Moon Woman
One would have imagined that this Egg would be sufficien...

The Griffin
There always has been a tradition of birds being existent, ...

The Phoenix
Pliny says of the Phoenix:--"AEthiopia and India, more espe...

The Swallow
"And is the swallow gone? Who beheld it? Wh...

The Martlet And Footless Birds
Of the Martin, or, as in Heraldry it is written, Martlet, G...

Snow Birds
But we must leave warm climes, and birds of Paradise, and s...

The Swan
The ancient fable so dear, even to modern poets, that Swans...

The Alle Alle
"There is also in this Lake (the White Lake) a kind of b...

The Hoopoe And Lapwing
Whether the following bird is meant for the Hoopoe, or the ...

The Ostrich
Modern observation, and especially Ostrich farming, has ...

The Halcyon
Of this bird, the Kingfisher, Aristotle thus discourses:--"...

The Pelican
The fable of the Pelican "in her piety, vulning herself,...

The Trochilus
This bird, as described by Aristotle, and others, is of a p...

Woolly Hens
Sir John Maundeville saw in "the kingdome named Mancy, whic...

Two-headed Wild Geese
Near the land of the Cynocephali or dog-headed men, there w...

Four-footed Duck
Gesner describes a four-footed duck, which he says is li...

Fish
Terrestrial and Aerial animals were far more familiar to th...

The Sea-mouse
"The Sea-Mouse makes a hole in the Earth, and lays her Eggs...

The Sea-hare
"The Sea-Hare is found to be of divers kinds in the Ocean, ...

The Sea-pig
Again we are indebted to Gesner for the drawing of thi...

The Walrus
Of the Walrus, Rosmarus, or Morse, Gesner draws, and Ola...

The Ziphius
This Voracious Animal, whose size may be imagined by compar...

The Saw Fish
"The Saw fish is also a beast of the Sea; the body is huge ...

The Orca
is probably the Thresher whale. Pliny thus describes it:--"...

The Dolphin
Pliny says:--"The Dolphin is an animal not only friendly to...

The Narwhal
generally called the Monoceros or Sea Unicorn, is thus show...

The Swamfisck
The accompanying illustration, though heading the chapte...

The Sahab
"There is also another Sea-Monster, called Sahab, which hat...

The Circhos
"There is also another Monster like to that, called Circhos...

The Remora
Of this fish Pliny writes:--"There is a very small fish tha...

The Dog-fish And Ray
Olaus Magnus writes of "The cruelty of some Fish, and th...

The Sea Dragon
Of the Ray tribe of fishes, the Sea Dragon is the most ...

The Sting Ray
Pliny mentions the Sting Ray, and ascribes to it marvellous...

Senses Of Fishes
He also tells us about the senses of fishes, and first of t...

Zoophytes
Writing on the lower phases of Marine Animal life, he says:...

Sponges
"We find three kinds of sponges mentioned; the first are th...

The Kraken
This enormous monster, peculiar to the Northern Seas, is sc...

Crayfish And Crabs
Pliny tells us that in the Indian Ocean are Crayfish four c...

The Sea-serpent
Of the antiquity of the belief in the Sea-Serpent there can...

Serpents
Of Serpents Topsell has written a "Historie," which, if not...

The Crocodile
The largest of the Saurians which we have left us, is the C...

The Basilisk And Cockatrice
Aldrovandus portrays the Basilisk with eight legs. Topse...

The Salamander
Many writers have essayed this fabled creature, but almost ...

The Toad
Toads were always considered venomous and spiteful, and the...

The Leech
The Leech has, from a very early age, been used as a means ...

The Scorpion
Of the Scorpion, Pliny says:--"This animal is a dangerous s...

The Ant
No one would credit the industrious Ant, whose ways we are ...

The Bee
The Busy Bee, too, according to Olaus Magnus, developed, in...

The Hornet
So also, up North, they seem to have had a special breed...



Early Men








On the antiquity of man it is impossible to speculate, because we have
no data to go upon. We know that his earliest existence, of which we
have any cognisance, must have been at a period when the climate and
fauna of the Western continent was totally different to their present
state. Then roamed over the land, the elephant, rhinoceros,
hippopotamus, the Bos-primigenius, the reindeer, the cave bear, the
brown and the Arctic bears, the cave hyaena, and many other animals now
quite extinct. We know that man then existed, because we find his
handiwork in the shape of manufactured flint implements, mixed with the
bones of these animals--and, occasionally, with them human remains have
been found, but, as yet, no perfect skull has been found. There were two
types of man, the Dolicho Cephalous, or long-headed, and the Brachy
Cephalous, or round-headed--and, of these, the long-headed were of far
greater antiquity.

All we can do is to classify man's habitation of this earth, as well as
we can, under certain well-defined, and known conditions. Thus, that
called the Stone Age, must be divided into two parts, that of the
roughly chipped flint implements--which is designated the Palaeolithic
period--and that of the polished and carefully finished stone arms and
implements, which necessarily show a later time, and a higher state of
civilisation--which is called the Neolithic period. The next age is
that of bronze, when man had learned to smelt metals, and make moulds,
showing a great advance--and, finally, the Iron Age, in which man had
subdued the sterner metal to his will--and this age immediately precedes
History.

The cave men were of undoubted antiquity--and were hunters of the wild
beasts that then overran Western Europe, and who split the bones of
those animals which they slew in order to obtain the marrow. Although
strictly belonging to the Palaeolithic period, they manufactured out of
that stubborn material, flint, spear-heads, knives, scrapers--and, when
the bow had been invented, arrow-heads. Nor were they deficient in the
rudiments of art, as some tracings and carvings on pieces of the horns
of slaughtered animals, clearly show. Mr. Christie in digging in the
Dordogne caves found, at La Madelaine, engraved and carved pictures of
reindeer, an ibex, a mammoth, &c., all of them recognisable, and the
mammoth, a very good likeness. This was incised on a piece of mammoth
tusk.

The lake men, judging by the remains found near their dwellings,
occupied their houses during the Stone and Bronze periods. Herodotus
mentions these curious dwellings. "But those around Mount Pangaeus and
near the Doberes, the Agrianae, Odomanti, and those who inhabit Lake
Prasias[23] itself, were not at all subdued by Megabazus. Yet he
attempted to conquer those who live upon the lake, in dwellings
contrived after this manner: planks, fitted on lofty piles, are placed
in the middle of the lake, with a narrow entrance from the mainland by
a single bridge. These piles that support the planks, all the citizens
anciently placed there at the common charge; but, afterwards, they
established a law to the following effect; whenever a man marries, for
each wife he sinks three piles, bringing wood from a mountain called
Orbelus; but every man has several wives. They live in the following
manner; every man has a hut on the planks, in which he dwells, with a
trap door closely fitted in the planks, and leading down to the lake.
They tie the young children with a cord round the foot, fearing lest
they should fall into the lake beneath. To their horses and beasts of
burden they give fish for fodder; of which there is such an abundance,
that, when a man has opened his trap-door, he lets down an empty basket
by a cord into the lake, and, after waiting a short time, draws it up
full of fish."[24]

Here, then, we have a valuable record of the lake dwellings, and similar
ones have been found in the lake of Zurich. In 1854, owing to the
dryness and cold of the preceding winter, the water fell a foot below
any previous record: and, in a small bay between Ober Meilen and
Dollikon, the inhabitants took advantage to reclaim the soil thus left,
and add it to their gardens, by building a wall as far out as they
could--and they raised the level of the land thus gained, by dredging
the mud out of the lake. In the course of dredging they found deer
horns, tiles and various implements, and, the attention of an antiquary
having been directed to this find, he concluded that it was the site of
an ancient lake village. The lakes of Geneva, Constance, and
Neufchatel, have also yielded much that throws light on the habits and
intelligence of these lake men. They wove, they made pottery, they grew
and parched corn--nay they ground it, and made biscuits, they ate
apples, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, hazel and beech nuts,
and peas. They evidently fed on cereals, fruit, fish, and the flesh of
wild animals, for bones of the following animals have been found. Brown
bear, badger, marten, pine marten, polecat, wolf, fox, wild cat, beaver,
elk, urus, bison, stag, roe-deer, wild boar, marsh boar--whilst their
domestic animals were the boar, horse, ox, goat, sheep, and dog. These,
it must be remembered, range over a wide period, including the stone and
bronze ages. They wore ornaments, too, for pins, and bracelets have been
found. Lake dwellings have been found in Scotland, England, Italy,
Germany and France--so that this practice seems to have obtained very
widely. In Ireland they made artificial islands in the lakes, called
Crannoges, on which they erected their dwellings. Pile dwellings now
exist, and are inhabited in many parts of the world.

We have other traces of prehistoric man in the shell mounds,
kjoekkenmoeddings, or kitchen middens, which still exist in Denmark, and
have been found in Scotland on the shores of the Moray Firth and Loch
Spynie; in Cornwall, and Devon, at St. Valery at the mouth of the Somme,
in Australia, Tierra del Fuego, the Malay Peninsula, the Andaman
Islands, and North and South America, showing a very wide range. The
Danish kjoekkenmoeddings, when first thoroughly noticed, (of course, in
this century), were taken to be raised beaches--but when they were
examined, it was found that the shells were of four species of molluscs
or shell-fish,[25] that did not live together, and that they were
either full-grown, or nearly so. A stricter examination was made, and
the result was the finding of some flint implements, and bones marked by
knives, conclusively showing that man had had a hand in this collection
of shells--and the conclusion was come to that these were the sites of
villages of a prehistoric man, a hypothesis which was fully borne out by
the discovery, in some of them, of hearths bearing traces of having
borne fire. Thus, then, these refuse heaps were clearly the work of a
very ancient race, so poor, and backward, as to be obliged to live on
shell-fish--and these mounds were made by the shells which they threw
away.

We can find a very great analogy between them and the Tierra del
Fuegans, when Darwin visited them, while with the surveying ships
Adventure and Beagle, a voyage which took from 1832 to 1836; and,
when we read the following extracts from Darwin's account of the
expedition, we can fancy we have before us a vivid picture of the makers
of the kitchen middens. "The inhabitants, living chiefly upon
shell-fish, are obliged constantly to change their place of residence;
but they return at intervals to the same spots, as is evident from the
pile of old shells, which must often amount to some tons in weight.
These heaps can be distinguished at a long distance by the bright green
colour of certain plants which invariably grow on them.... The Fuegian
wigwam resembles, in size and dimensions, a haycock. It merely consists
of a few broken branches stuck in the ground, and very imperfectly
thatched on one side, with a few tufts of grass and rushes. The whole
cannot be so much as the work of an hour, and it is only used for a few
days.... At a subsequent period, the Beagle anchored for a couple of
days under Wollaston Island, which is a short way to the northward.
While going on shore, we pulled alongside a canoe with six Fuegians.
These were the most abject and miserable creatures I anywhere beheld. On
the east coast, the natives, as we have seen, have guanaco cloaks, and,
on the west, they possess sealskins. Amongst the central tribes the men
generally possess an otter skin, or some small scrap about as large as a
pocket handkerchief, which is barely sufficient to cover their backs as
low down as their loins. It is laced across the breast by strings, and,
according as the wind blows, it is shifted from side to side. But these
Fuegians in the canoe were quite naked, and even one full-grown woman
was absolutely so. It was raining heavily, and the fresh water, together
with the spray, trickled down her body.... These poor wretches were
stunted in their growth, their hideous faces bedaubed with white paint,
their skins filthy and greasy, their hair entangled, their voices
discordant, their gestures violent and without dignity. Viewing such
men, one can hardly make oneself believe they are fellow-creatures and
inhabitants of the same world.... At night, five or six human beings,
naked, and scarcely protected from the wind and rain of this tempestuous
climate, sleep on the wet ground, coiled up like animals. Whenever it is
low water, they must rise to pick shell-fish from the rocks; and the
women, winter and summer, either dive and collect sea eggs, or sit
patiently in their canoes, and, with a baited hair line, jerk out small
fish. If a seal is killed, or the floating carcase of a putrid whale
discovered, it is a feast: such miserable food is assisted by a few
tasteless berries, and fungi. Nor are they exempt from famine, and, as a
consequence, cannibalism accompanied by parricide."

This I believe to be as faithful a picture as can be drawn of the makers
of the shell mounds.

But in Denmark, although shells formed by far the major part of these
middens, yet they ate other fish, the herring, dorse, dab, and eel.
Birds also were not despised by them, bones of swallows, the sparrow,
stork, capercailzie, ducks, geese, wild swans, and even of the great auk
(now extinct) have been found. Then of beasts they ate the stag,
roe-deer, wild boar, urus, dog, fox, wolf, marten, otter, lynx, wild
cat, hedgehog, bear, and mouse; beside which they lived on the seal,
porpoise, and water rat.

Owing to the almost total absence of polished implements--and yet the
fact being that portions of one or two have been found--the makers of
these kjoekkenmoeddings, are classed as belonging to the later Palaeolithic
period.

Of the Bronze and Iron Ages there is no necessity to write, men were
emerging from their primaeval barbarity--and all the gentle arts, though
undeveloped, were nascent. Men who could smelt metals, and mould, and
forge them, cannot be considered as utter barbarians, such as were the
long-headed men, with their chipped flint implements and weapons.





Next: Wild Men

Previous: Giants



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