We as a species don’t like mysteries. We’re always trying to explain what we see, even when we don’t have enough information to understand.
For example, have you ever seen an elephant skull? An elephant doesn’t have a bone between its eyes; there’s just one huge hole in the upper middle of the skull where the eyes were. If you didn’t realize what you were looking at and saw that enormous empty space, what would you think? One conclusion would be a creature that had one massive eye — the mythical Cyclops!
Or perhaps you stumbled upon an ancient battlefield. In examining the bones, you might find a spot where a horse and rider had been killed together. It would be easy to conclude (especially if the skeletons were now incomplete) that this was one being with the torso of a man and body of a horse — a centaur!
There is a new museum in the Orlando, FL area. It’s called “Skeletons: Animals Unveiled!”, located at I-Drive 360, 8441 International Drive (407-233-6999). It exhibits 450 skeletons, with a goal of eventually having over 500. Yes, it has an elephant skull and some exhibits provide explanations about how these myths get started. There is a fascinating article about it (“Creepy, Cool, and Educational”) in the Summer, 2015 issue of Orlando Attractions Magazine.
By the way, how do they clean the bones? You don’t want to know.