Even though their are no fossils or remains found yet for such a creature, you assume it must have existed and fill in the "gap" to the flying pig with a provisional branch until the evidence shows up.
No, that isn't how it works. It's called a "nested hierarchy" for a reason. The fossils we have DO form a nested hierarchy and any new fossils we find DO fit into it. If a flying pig fossil was found, it would NOT fit into the nested hierarchy.
Certainly not. You haven't shown even the slightest rudimentary understanding of the topic. Trusting you would be like trusting a three-year-old to fly an Airbus.
There exist humans with arms and legs missing - how do you think these people fit into a nested hierarchy?
There's a difference between missing limbs and extra limbs. Do you understand the difference between addition and subtraction? It's easier to lose what you already have than to get something you never had.
Forelimbs don't evolve into fins and wings - it's impossible.
You're no judge of what's possible. How do you explain the similarity between a bat's wing and a human hand?
The Leviathan of the Book of Job is a reflection of the older Canaanite Lotan, a primeval monster defeated by the god Hadad. Parallels to the role of Mesopotamian Tiamat defeated by Marduk have long been drawn in comparative mythology, as have been wider comparisons to dragon and world serpent narratives such as Indra slaying Vrtra or Thor slaying Jörmungandr, but Leviathan already figures in the Hebrew Bible as a metaphor for a powerful enemy, notably Babylon (Isaiah 27:1), and some scholars have pragmatically interpreted it as referring to large aquatic creatures, such as the crocodile. The word later came to be used as a term for "great whale" as well as of sea monsters in general.
So the "leviathan" is so ill-defined that fossils of any large sea creature would suffice to fill the bill -- if one had to provide a real actual creature to take the place of fantasy and mythology. Including a crocodile.
A book of mythology is not a good source for information on what may or may not exist.
The way science works is by finding evidence and then explaining it, not by dreaming something up first and then saying it should be looked for.
Another teachable moment brought to you by Dredge.
looking at that picture and image of chinese dragons shows an amazing coincidence. I can almost see a breath of fire.
You clearly have a very vivid imagination. I don't see it myself. I don't think that this;
looks anything like this;
For starters, the head on the dragon is large, often much larger than depicted here, where the plesiosaur has a more modest head. The dragon has deer-like antlers, which the plesiosaur lacks. The dragon has a long, sinuous body, whereas the plesiosaur's body is a good deal fatter about the middle. Perhaps most conspicuously, the dragon has legs, replete with extremely large talons (and again, this example has competitively modest talons compared to some), where the plesiosaur has flippers. There are numerous other differences. I don't think that they look alike at all.
I'm also somewhat puzzled as to why you would choose the plesiosaur as your comparison, since there is a long-standing association in China between dragons and fossil dinosaur bones and eggs. This whole idea may well be true in China, but if it is, it is usually mentioned in terms of dinosaurs being the models for dragons, not marine reptiles. The dragon illustrated above looks more like a dinosaur than a plesiosaur; at least dinosaurs actually had legs.
I do think that there is strong evidence of an association between dragons and dinosaur fossils in China, but I don't see any such evidence for Europe and the Near East and even in China, we have no way of knowing whether the fossil inspired the myth or whether the myth explained the fossil.
Which doesn't mean that their discovery had to wait for the Scythians, where the evidence could have been taken as corroboration of previous stories.
The discovery had to wait for actual fossils to be unearthed and fossil ceratopsians are thin on the ground in the areas associated with the griffin myth. Take a look at this distribution map for ceratopsian fossils;
That doesn't exactly match up with the origins of griffin iconography. For this idea to be true the myth-makers had to have seen fossil ceratopsians. We have no reason to suppose that they did and every reason to think it unlikely. If the myth came first and the skeletons were linked to the myth at a later date then the skeletons weren't the origin for the myth. It seems perfectly plausible to imagine that people saw Protoceratops fossils and thought that they looked like griffins, but it seems extremely unlikely that the fossils actually inspired the original myth. They just didn't have access to the fossils.
Neanderthals and/or Homo erectus were the basis for trolls, ogres and orcs, living in caves and more primitive socially than Cro-Magnon. Stories of encounters between populations being passed down as verbal history.
Sure, it's possible. But it's not an example of a fossil inspiring a myth. That's an example of a myth being inspired by the interactions of two (then) living populations.
Or people trying to make sense of fossils by layering over them characteristics of creatures they knew about.
Well, people certainly do behave that way, whence stories of "devil's toenails" (grypheas) and "snake-stones" (ammonites) here in the UK. As caffeine said, the idea isn't intrinsically absurd and in some cases it may be true. It's just that it's very difficult to prove and in many cases the positive evidence is weak or non-existent.
They weren't scientists, and their knowledge of the variety of life was limited.
They certainly weren't and I think that brings up an important point; mythic creatures like griffins and dragons weren't viewed just as big scary animals, they held symbolic value. The griffin is a combination of lion and eagle, both animals symbolic of strength, ferocity and nobility. It's not just a physical combination, it's a combination of these allegorical attributes. I think that such considerations were extremely important to the cultural role played by monster stories. Explaining natural phenomena was likely a secondary consideration compared with such symbolic concerns. A combination of lion and eagle is a good enough notion in and of itself. It doesn't really require further explanation.
And I do think they had a better understanding of anatomy than most people today, due to skinning and butchering prey animals.
I'm not sure that's a safe assumption. The earliest griffin art is from Egypt in about 3000 BCE. By that time they may well have been well along the path to specialisation and differentiation of trades. The people who told the stories may not have been the ones who did the hunting and butchering. Or the myth may have much earlier origins than the first appearance of griffins in the archaeological record, dating back to hunter-gatherer times. At this remove it's hard to know, but then, that's my take on all of this, it's almost entirely supposition, with no way to really know.
So you don't think finding fossils of creatures with beaks, four clawed legs and long tails wouldn't fuel their imagination?
Your fascination notwithstanding, I think that I made it perfectly clear that I don't think that. I think that there were no Protoceratops fossils in the ancient Near East, thus, they could not have been inspired by them.
I could always turn this around of course. You ever see a wild eagle? You're the outdoorsy type, so I'm guessing you probably have. Impressive aren't they? Awe-inspiring even. Seeing wild lions must have been even more impressive. It seems to me that these large, powerful predatory animals would fuelled the human imagination much more than any pile of old bones. And then there's the fact that people in the ANE would actually have seen eagles and lions, but not Protoceratops fossils, which were located thousands of miles away.
Mutate and Survive
Edited by Granny Magda, : No reason given.
On two occasions I have been asked, – "Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?" ... I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question. - Charles Babbage
The dragon depicted in your post doesn't look like a dinosaur, but like some kind of sea-monster ... with fore and hind legs added as an after-thought (as are the two gold balls it is holding). It could be a depiction of a Leviathan, which is described in the book of Job as a marine monster that breathed fire and smoke (ie, a dragon).
Re: Another teaching moment brought to you by Dredge
Yet a very, very large percentage of the existing known fossils are of sea critters. In fact the chances of a sea critter getting fossilized is higher than for a land critter. That is why we have so many fossilized whale skeletons and shark teeth and fish and many sea reptiles and coral and even fossilized casts of seaweed.
Good point. In that case, maybe it's only a matter of time before the remains or a fossil of a Leviathan is found! Wouldn't that be exciting?!
There are nested hierarchies but they are not contiguous, such that all life forms one large nested hierarchy. The links between fish and amphibians, amphibians and reptiles, reptiles and mammals, apes and humans are non-existent and are merely products of fertile human imagination.