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Mythical Monsters

by Charles Gould


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Charles Gould, the son of the ornithologist John Gould, wrote this book in the 19th century on the subject now called 'cryptozoology,' the study of (possibly imaginary) animals only known through anecdotal or folklore evidence.

The core of the book is about dragons: Western, Chinese, and Japanese, although it also covers the Sea-serpent, the Unicorn, and the Chinese Phoenix. Gould hypothesized that the dragon was based on an unknown, very rare animal, a huge reptile with wings, which became extinct in historical times. He also concluded that persistent sea-serpent sightings were also due to an undiscovered surviving prehistoric marine animal. He drew on the then-emerging body of fossil evidence for prehistoric megafauna, from flying lizards to whale-sized aquatic dinosaurs.

In context the proposal was not all that outrageous. Darwin had 25 years earlier proposed that humans are part of a huge web of biological relationships over vast realms of time and space. So what other paradigms were about to be shattered?

Gould leads off with a discussion of some other 'earth mysteries:' the world-wide flood myth, cultural diffusion, and Atlantis; readers looking for the cryptozoology will want to skip forward to Chapter VI. Extensive illustrations, translations from rare documents, and historical accounts from newspaper articles, make this a must-have book for anyone interested in this subject.

Title Page
Chapter I. On Some Remarkable Animal Forms
Chapter II. Extinction of Species
Chapter III. Antiquity of Man
Chapter IV. The Deluge Not A Myth
Chapter V. On the Translation of Myths Between the Old and the New World
Chapter VI. The Dragon
Chapter VII. The Chinese Dragon
Chapter VIII. The Japanese Dragon
Chapter IX. The Sea-Serpent
Chapter X. The Unicorn
Chapter XI. The Chinese Phœnix


Appendix I. The Deluge Tradition According To Berosus
Appendix II. The Dragon
Appendix III. Original Preface To “Wonders by Land and Sea”
Appendix IV. A Memorial Presented by Liu Hsiu, by Order of His Imperial Majesty The Emperor, on the “Book of Wonders by Land and Sea.”
Appendix V. After Preface to the “Book of Wonders by Land and Sea.”
Appendix VI. Extracts From “Social Life of the Chinese”
Appendix VII. Extracts From the “Pan Tsaou Kang Mu.”
Appendix VIII. Extract From the “Yuen Keen Lei Han.”
Appendix IX. Appendix to the Chapter on the Sea-Serpent