Biology textbooks from the 1800s could be rather outlandish and gruesome, even when describing harmless animals. But artist/biology PhD student Simone Des Roches has taken things one step further and created a naturalist's profile for mythological critters like dragons and unicorns, complete with requisite zoological jargon.
Des Roches currently studies lizard populations in New Mexico, but several years ago she created this fantasy field guide for an art project. Here's but a sampling of the many nonexistent beasts she's catalogued with hilariously blasé academic starch.
With a wild population estimated at 500, Draco familiaris, the Familiar Dragon is a 'common' but reclusive reptile. D. familiaris is native to temperate zones of the Northern Hemisphere, but was introduced to southern New Zealand in the late 1800s.
The most widely acknowledged species is the traditional Eagle Lion Gryphon, Gryps aquilio. Rarer forms include the Raven Panther Gryphon, G. corvuspathera, and the Owlynx, G. strigilynx, among many others [...] Many believe both gryphon varieties result exclusively from hybridizations between members of the Aves and Carnivora (especially Felidae).
The last person to describe a viable [Draco ingens] egg was Madame Lucitrix Belmont in 1649. Her rash husband was quick to collect and prepare the egg for his starving family — all of whom promptly died of poisoning after consuming the yolk, rich in sulphuric acid.
[Coma glacies] displays the most advanced form of psuedo-endothermy among dragons: the fornax organ, which functions in fire breathing in most dragons, now serves as a heat generator, effectively warming the body of the organism from the inside out.
Via Simone Des Roches. You can find more of her art here.