SH Archive 16th century Morsus aka Walrus... or what was it?

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KorbenDallas
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2018-12-28 01:20:18
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KD Archive

Not actually KorbenDallas
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This is the second and less famous of Waldseemüller’s two great world maps; the lone surviving copy of his first, on which we see the word America first written, was bought for $10 million in 2001 by the Library of Congress. This detail depicts an odd elephant-like creature in the Arctic Ocean off of Scandinavia, possibly engraved by the artist Albrecht Dürer. The Latin text explains that this is the abode of the “morsus,” a strange animal with “large, quadrangular teeth.”
Obviously it is being explained in the normal "artist was stupid" way - "In other words, this was the artist’s conception of a walrus, based on secondhand descriptions from sailors. In most of Europe at the time, real-life creatures like walruses, giraffes, and rhinoceroses would have seemed just as fantastic as any sea serpent or dragon."

Wiki explanation for the name of Morsus:
  • The archaic English word for walrus—morse—is widely thought to have come from the Slavic languages, which in turn borrowed it from Finno-Ugric languages. Compare морж (morž) in Russian, mursu in Finnish, morša in Northern Saami, and morse in French. Olaus Magnus, who depicted the walrus in the Carta Marina in 1539, first referred to the walrus as the ros marus, probably a Latinization of morž, and this was adopted by Linnaeus in his binomial nomenclature.
  • The coincidental similarity between morse and the Latin word morsus ("a bite") supposedly contributed to the walrus's reputation as a "terrible monster".
KD: Appears we could have this extinct animal which was called "Morsus" living back in the 16th century. Today we are being explained that some creative cartographer made up the looks of an animal he had never seen, but... knew its name. There is nothing new in this approach.
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