This entry is trivia, which is cool and all, but not a trope. On a work, it goes on the Trivia tab.

Accidentally Correct Zoology

"It just goes to show how diverse ancient mammals are, that we can just imagine some bizarre critter and later find something just like it."
— Guillermo Rougier on the similarity of Cronopio dentiacutus to Scrat.

Accidentally Correct Zoology is where a fictional species is made up for a work, only for a real species resembling it to be discovered later on. The animal or other organism should first appear in a work of fiction, without the author believing that it actually exists, to count. What was once thought to be Artistic License Biology is later confirmed by science to be real.

Compare Real After All, an in-universe counterpart where a creature that is considered a myth or superstition is revealed to really exist in the universe of the work.

A subtrope of Accidentally Correct Writing. Not a Subtrope of Defictionalization unless the real-life species or breed is a result of artificial selection or genetic engineering that is inspired by fiction. Compare to Reality Is Unrealistic. Contrast Science Marches On.


Examples:

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    Films — Animation 
  • A Bug's Life: Dim was a member of a fictional species of rhinoceros beetle created for the movie. Eight years after the movie's release, a real species of rhinoceros beetle that resembled Dim, called Megaceras briansaltini, was discovered. This trope was coined "the Dim Effect" by its discoverer Brett C. Ratcliffe because of this.
  • Scrat from the Ice Age movies, a franchise starting in 2002, is a sabre-toothed squirrel. Cronopio dentiacutus is a small (8-9 inches long) squirrel-like mammal with a long snout and sharp canines, discovered in 2011. However, it lived during the Cretaceous Period, not the ice age, wasn't a rodent, and probably didn't eat acorns.
  • In The Good Dinosaur, the protagonists are attacked by a snake sporting four small, lizard-like legs. When the movie was developed, although there was a lot of indirect evidence that snakes evolved from four-legged ancestors, no such snake was known in the fossil record. Only a few days after the release of the movie's trailer in 2015, Tetrapodophis was discovered.

    Film — Live Action 
  • The velociraptors of Jurassic Park are nothing like and much larger than real-life Velociraptor, and are based on Deinonychus instead. However, after filming had started a movie!raptor-sized dinosaur, called Utahraptor was discovered. In the years since then, another dromaeosaur has been found matching Jurassic Park's raptors for size, and it lived in roughly the same time and place as the raptor Grant was digging up. It's called Dakotaraptor.
  • In King Kong (2005), Skull Island apparently has a breed of theropod dinosaurs that developed batlike wings in lieu of feathers. Ten years after the film's release, a real theropod with a similar adaptation (Yi qi) was confirmed to exist, though it still has feathers.

    Literature 
  • Hobbits are small human-like beings in Tolkien's Legendarium, first appearing in The Hobbit in 1937. When the prehistoric hominid Homo floresiensis was discovered in 2003, it got the nickname "hobbit" due to its similar size to the race in Tolkien's books.
  • Some species described in the Speculative Documentary book The New Dinosaurs: An Alternative Evolution were later described in some form in real life, although most didn't resemble Dixon's creations except in the most basic concepts.
    • Dwarf island dinosaurs were discovered in the form of Hateg Island dinosaurs and Europasaurus.
    • Long-necked, long-legged running pterosaurs became reality once better remains of Azhdarchids were discovered (Dixon's were flightless however).
    • Small arboreal coelurosaurs, such as microraptorines and scansoriopterygids.
    • Large flightless birds evolving in the presence of non-avian dinosaurs; Gargantuavis in particular is not too unlike the troumble.
    • Fur-like plumage on ornithischians (Tianyulong, Psittacosaurus, and Kulindadromeus).
    • A number of dinosaurs are portrayed with "fur", which, at the time, was a very unorthodox idea. As science marched on, it was discovered that many dinosaur species were covered in downy feathers that could look fairly fur-like.
    • An Asian coelurosaur that glided with membranous wings: Yi.
  • Bakker included a therizinosaur ("segnosaur") in Raptor Red's story even though none were known from the right time and place when the book was written. (Perhaps not coincidentally, it was depicted as a mountain dweller, therefore living in an environment unlikely to preserve its fossils.) A decade later, a therizinosaur (Falcarius) contemporaneous with Utahraptor was published.
  • In the Tarzan book series, starting in 1912, the protagonist is raised by a fictional ape species named "Mangani", which combines the physical and behavioral traits of chimpanzees, gorillas and primitive humans. In 1996, in the Bili Forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a subspecies of chimpanzee was discovered that is larger than other chimpanzees and shows some gorilla-like behavior. The similarity between the Mangani and the "Bili ape" did not go unnoticed.

    Mythology 
  • Older Than Print: Vampires appear in many European cultures in various shapes and forms, with the most iconic being the blood-sucking monster that can transform into a bat. Of course, vampire bats very much exist — there are three separate species of them. All are native to Central and South America, and thus had not been discovered until well after the vampire myth had developed...

    Webcomics 
  • Hero Oh Hero features an In-Universe version; there's a race of people with strong nature themed magic, pointed ears and green colouration who are called "elves" as a slur by The Empire, because of their resemblance to the elves in their folklore.

    Real Life 
  • In 500 BC, Hanno the Navigator described a tribe of "hairy women" he encountered in Gabon, that the locals called "Gorillas". His report was largely disregarded as a traveler's tale, but in 1847, a large, hairy hominid was indeed discovered in Africa, which was named "gorilla" after the creature described by Hanno. The animal, now called the western gorilla, has become prominently featured in popular culture from the 1860s on. note  Whether or not Hanno's "gorilla" is the same as the animal we know today is still unknown.
  • For a long time, pterosaurs with both teeth and head crests only were known in popular culture, mostly in the form of toys (smaller species with toothy jaws lacked crests, whereas larger species with spectacular crests lacked teeth). In 2003, a pterosaur having both features was discovered, and was given the name Ludodactylus, from the Latin word "ludus" meaning "toy".
  • In 1915, an ornithologist named Steve William Bebee hypothesised a "Tetrapteryx" stage in bird evolution where avian ancestors had feathers on their wings and legs. In 2003, Microraptor was discovered. They were the first dinosaurs found with feathers on both their wings and legs.

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