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The First Fossil Hunters: Dinosaurs, Mammoths, and Myth in Greek and Roman Times
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The First Fossil Hunters: Dinosaurs, Mammoths, and Myth in Greek and Roman Times Paperback – March 27, 2011
Griffins, Cyclopes, Monsters, and Giants--these fabulous creatures of classical mythology continue to live in the modern imagination through the vivid accounts that have come down to us from the ancient Greeks and Romans. But what if these beings were more than merely fictions? What if monstrous creatures once roamed the earth in the very places where their legends first arose? This is the arresting and original thesis that Adrienne Mayor explores in The First Fossil Hunters. Through careful research and meticulous documentation, she convincingly shows that many of the giants and monsters of myth did have a basis in fact--in the enormous bones of long-extinct species that were once abundant in the lands of the Greeks and Romans.
There is a very good book called "The First Fossil Hunters" that deals with discovery and interpretation of fossils in antiquity. Bones of large prehistoric mammals were frequently dug up and displayed as "giants." Some of the more esoteric animals in Herodotus are probably actually references to fossilized dinosaurs.