The Origins of 10 Mythical Animals
#3 is an obvious joke.
Devil Bird (Sri Lanka)
The cries of this bird are heard from the jungle. Overtime it became an omen of sorts: the terrifying sound was a signal that someone nearby would die. Hunters have tried to track down the bird (as it's hardly ever seen screeching), and a few possibilities have been drawn, but which type of bird it actually is has yet to be confirmed.
Blue Mountains Panther (New South Wales)
For over one-hundred years those living near the Blue Mountains have reported sightings (or evidence) of a large wild cat roaming the area. But extensive testing in 2009 (which included hair and fecal samples—ew!) denied these claims, with the conclusion being that most of the evidence was linked to a large dog.
Drop Bear (Australia)
The fine people of Australia have developed a creature seemingly to mess with tourists. The drop bear, as described, is a large marsupial that falls from trees and viciously attacks those who are passing underneath them. Those who tell the tale give absurd tips to ward of deadly drop bear attacks, such as speaking with an Australian accent.
Jackalope (North America)
Arguably the most famous of America's fearsome critters tradition, the jackalope is the alleged fierce crossing of a jack-rabbit and antelope. Though the origins aren't known for certain, it may be placed in a genuine (albeit mistaken) sighting: a rabbit infected with shope papilloma has the appearance of horns.
White Stag (Europe)
This is a case of an actual animal becoming mythical. Depending on which culture you're talking about, the white stag could be seen as a spiritual messenger or a miraculous sign from God (or a god). In reality it's just a red deer with leucism, a condition that causes its hair and skin to lose its natural pigmentation.