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Adapted from the American Museum of Natural History exhibition Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns & Mermaids, this book explores an array of mythological creatures—and the real animals that inspired them. Lush photos showcase rare objects from around the world as well as models of mythical beasts like krakens and Rocs, along with fossils of actual extinct animals such as the six-foot-tall primate called Gigantopithecus and dinosaurs such as Protoceratops, which may have inspired the griffin. Also included are engravings, paintings, maps, and ephemera from the Middle Ages to modern times, all capturing the origins of legendary animals that continue to thrill, terrify, and enchant us.
The American Museum of Natural History is one of the world’s preeminent scientific, educational, and cultural institutions. Since its founding in 1869, the Museum has pursued its mission—to discover, interpret, and share information about human cultures, the natural world, and the universe—through a broad program of scientific research, education, and exhibition. Each year, approximately five million visitors experience the Museum’s 45 permanent exhibition galleries, which include some of the world’s greatest dioramas, fossil halls, the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall, and the Rose Center for Earth and Space, home of the Hayden Planetarium. The Museum’s collections, only a tiny fraction of which are on view, surpass 33 million specimens and artifacts. They are an invaluable resource for the Museum’s 200 scientists, for graduate students in its Richard Gilder Graduate School—the Western Hemisphere’s only museum-based PhD-granting program—and for researchers around the world.
About the exhibition: Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns & Mermaids is organized by the American Museum of Natural History, New York (amnh.org), in collaboration with the Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney; Canadian Museum of History, Gatineau-Ottawa; Fernbank Museum of Natural History, Atlanta; and The Field Museum, Chicago.