In 1658, French admiral Etienne de Flacourt reported a curious legend among the natives of Madagascar. They described a creature, called tretretretre, that was as big as a 2-year-old calf, with a round head, a human face and ears, an ape’s feet, a short tail, and frizzy fur.
That description matched nothing on the island, so the Europeans dismissed it. But since then, fossils have been unearthed of a giant lemur, Megaladapis, that may explain the myth. It had been thought to become extinct thousands of years ago, but now zoologists think it may have survived into the sixth century, when humans came to the island, and entered their folklore.
A few Megaladapis may even have survived into the 16th or 17th century, so perhaps Flacourt was witnessing the birth of a legend.