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Vase shows that ancients dug fossils, too

Art scholars have generally interpreted the monster (yellow face at right) as a sea serpent emerging from a black cave, but Mayor and a group of paleontologists think the creature might actually be the fossil skull of an extinct giraffe eroding out of a hillside. Mayor's analysis of the vase painting appears in the February Oxford Journal of Archaeology.

Fossilized remains of large giraffes, camels, and horses are common throughout the Aegean Sea and in western Turkey. The ancient Greeks thought some of the large fossils they dug out were the bones of gods and monsters.

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