Instead, there were the words from the few who’d travelled overseas and your own imagination - and, if Mateo's drawings are anything to go by, your mind can come up with some pretty wild creatures.
Researcher Maria Del Mar scoured books from ancient times to the nineteenth century for bonkers descriptions of animals. Mateo then drew a creature based on the text, but without the name of the animal.
"The idea is to try to reproduce the experience of a person who reads about some beast he has never seen before (say a hyena or a shark)," said Mateo. "Before photography and google, this was not an uncommon experience."
People a few centuries ago must have been very, very scared of anything beyond their country’s borders if this was their impression of a Leaf-Nosed Vampire Bat (shown).
Image: Leaf-Nosed Vampire Bat
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