A legendary creature is a mythical or fantastic creature (often known as "fabulous creatures" in historical literature). Some — such as the dragon, the griffin or the unicorn — have their origin in traditional myths and have at one time been believed to be real creatures. more...
Others were based on real creatures, originating in garbled accounts of travellers' tales; such as the Vegetable Lamb of Tartary, which supposedly grew tethered to the earth (and was actually a type of fern). Even the traditional unicorn may have come from garbled stories about the rhinoceros or narwhal. Examples of the semi-mythical creatures can be found in medieval bestiaries.
Conversely, some creatures once believed to be mythological have been found in recent times, such as the giant squid.
Often, legendary creatures are chimeras, a combination of two or more real animals. For example, a pegasus is a combination of a horse and bird, a centaur of a man and horse, a minotaur of a man and bull.
Many legendary creatures appear prominently in fantasy fiction. These creatures are often claimed to have supernatural powers or knowledge or to guard some object of great value, which becomes critical to the plot of the story in which it is found. (See list of species in fantasy fiction for a list of these as well as newer creations.)
Many legendary creatures have been incorporated into heraldry and architectural decoration.
In recent times legendary creatures have been largely accepted into facets of popular culture, including video games and Hollywood movies.
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