This chapter describes the “great extinction” that wiped out the rich bestiary of pure fantasy that had charmed, inspired, and frightened people in ancient and medieval times. Belief in fantasy had been sustained over centuries by the faithful repetition of the statements of ancient authorities such as the Roman naturalist Pliny. However, modern scientific method cut its teeth driving these creatures to extinction. This new way of thinking that began to emerge in the Renaissance gradually set up new standards of belief. Fascination with fantastical beings did not disappear, but it lost the authority, and it retreated to the intellectual borderlands of society as superstition and pseudo-science.
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