Geek Trivia

People In The Medieval Era Believed The Fossils Of What To Be Petrified Dragon Tongues?

Ankylosaur Tails
Shark Teeth
Horseshoe Crabs
Stegosaurus Plates
Which Letter Does Not Appear On The Periodic Table?

Answer: Shark Teeth

If you want to point the finger at something for all the crazy myths we have about huge lizards, one-eyed giants, and the like, well you’d be well served to blame fossils. Nowadays if we find a large and unidentified skeleton encased in stone, we rejoice at the discovery of a new dinosaur species to examine. Back before people understood exactly what fossils were, however, they came up with all manner of explanations for what they found.

No fossil was spared the mythological treatment regardless of how unrelated to the mythologized creature in question it may have been. Oh sure, it’s easy to look at part of a dinosaur skeleton and think it belonged to some ancient monster, but in the Medieval era people even mistook fossilized shark teeth for signs of fanciful creatures.

The enormous fossilized teeth of the ancient Megalodon shark, for example, were mistakenly identified as petrified dragon tongues. Now, we’ll grant you, the teeth are as big as plates (seen here next to Great White teeth for scale), but teeth they were and most certainly not dragon tongues.

Fortunately, the record was set straight in 1667 when Danish naturalist Nicolaus Steno correctly recognized the teeth as just very big shark teeth and produced a scale drawing to demonstrate how they could all fit in a monstrous and man-eating sized mouth.

Image courtesy of Parzi.