Werewolves and wolves… Bats and Vampires… Ever wonder how animals get connected to myths and urban legends? From Neolithic images to pop culture it can be difficult to unravel. Watch out, we are going to break some Twilight fans’ hearts…
So where did the myth of werewolves come from? One very common werewolf myth is that they are just humans that turn into wolves on nights with a full moon. People have persecuted wolves for centuries because of their close relation to werewolf myths. Who knows if it was disease in a small village, rampant mental illness or violent attacks from neighboring clans, but the idea of men turning into violent predators goes back centuries into ancient times. In the starring role of one version of the first werewolf is King Lycaon of Arcadia. Ancient Greece holds another secret to wolves, werewolves, and the moon. According to How Stuff Works, “Hecate, Greek goddess of the moon, kept the company of dogs. Same thing goes for Diana, Roman goddess of the moon and the hunt. Norse mythology tells of a pair of wolves that chase the moon and sun to summon night and day the Native American Seneca tribes believe that a wolf sang the moon into existence.”
In the modern world, although still villainized in many mainstream forms of media, humans have developed an appreciation for wolves and their importance in our ecosystems. The grey wolf has recently been down-listed from endangered to threatened on the US Endangered Animals List.
Now, let us take out the plastic fangs long enough to chat about Vampires and Bats. Talk about murky waters… or eerie full moon nights! These legends cross continents! Let’s start at the beginning(ish)… Bats have been part of our ecosystem for literally fifty MILLION years.
But according to The Great Project, “the concept of vampires has only been part of the equation since Ancient Greece (whoa! There’s the Ancient Greeks again!), although the modern day interpretation has only been around since the early 1500’s. However, the beginnings of the vampire-bat association are relatively simple. When the Americas were discovered by Europeans in the late 15th and 16th Centuries, explorers found the presence of the ‘Desmodus Rotundus’ in Central and South America, the creature that would later become known as the ‘Vampire Bat’.”
In pop culture, Vampires have been associated with bats since Bram Stoker’s 1897 Novel Dracula was published. Many early artists would depict demons with bat wings, which only made the bat look that much more evil in the eyes of the people.
Don’t be fooled though! Bats play a very important role in all ecosystems they are found in. Bats are a protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981, but unfortunately their numbers have been on the decline for many decades. Fun fact: One single bat is capable of eating more than 3,000 flying insects in a night!