From the beginning of time, humankind has been fascinated, repelled, frightened and captivated by the great fish and mammals - both mythological and real - that live below the surface of the sea. In this book, Richard Ellis explores the world of man-eating octopuses, seductive mermaids, gigantic leviathans, sea serpents, and other legends of the ...
From the beginning of time, humankind has been fascinated, repelled, frightened and captivated by the great fish and mammals - both mythological and real - that live below the surface of the sea. In this book, Richard Ellis explores the world of man-eating octopuses, seductive mermaids, gigantic leviathans, sea serpents, and other legends of the deep. In a chronicle that takes the reader back and forth between mythology and reality, Ellis shows how the mermaid metamorphosed into the manatee; Leviathan became the whale; the polyp became the octopus; and the kraken is now known to us as the giant squid. He also investigates the natural history of these strange sea creatures and tells us, for example, why the giant squid is so rare, how the octopus has been misrepresented in history, the truth about the Loch Ness Monster, and whether the mermaid ever actually existed.
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Publishers Weekly, 1994-10-17 Few creatures have captured the imaginations of so many for so long as have monsters of the deep. Their history has been surprisingly consistent, the author notes. Most began as myths and then acquired a sense of reality when the existence of creatures resembling those chronicled in legend was documented. Ellis (Men and Whales) gives a superb account of marine monsters and their attendant myths, sightings, scientific discovery and biology. He describes only the best known and the best documented. He traces the mermaid to the manatee and dugong, Leviathan to the sperm whale, kraken to the giant squid and polyp to the octopus (sharks, however, remain sharks). He examines these monsters in art, literature and film, taking Jules Verne and Victor Hugo to task for their ignorance of biology, hysterical fantasy and unmitigated malice. Herman Melville, Arthur C. Clarke and Peter Benchley get better ratings. Of all the sighted monsters, only the giant squid (Architeuthis) retains its mythological and cryptozoological status, for its very existence is shrouded in mystery. Sharks have had a bad reputation throughout history, but until Jaws (1974) they did not figure prominently in literature. At the end of this engaging book, Ellis confesses to skepticism: ``monsters, if they exist, have more to fear from us than we do from them.'' Illustrations. (Nov.)
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