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Accidentally Correct Zoology

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Left: Dim, a character from A Bug's Life (1998).
Right: Megaceras briansaltini, a rhinoceros beetle discovered in 2006.

"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 from Ice Age

Accidentally Correct Zoology happens when a fictional species is made up for a work, or a fictional animal quality or ability is, only for a real example 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. Also compare Right for the Wrong Reasons, where someone coincidentally arrives to the right conclusion despite being mistaken about the facts, and Reality Is Unrealistic, where someone might believe something doesn't exist or is incorrect despite actually being real.

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. Contrast Science Marches On, where new discoveries prove assumptions or even previously admitted certainties wrong.


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  • The invalid dinosaur genus Agathaumas was named in 1872 for some rather unremarkable fossils that probably belonged to a Triceratops. Even though nobody knew what the whole skeleton looked like, artist Charles R. Knight illustrated it as a sort of imaginary cross between a Triceratops and a Styracosaurus, with three horns and a spiky frill (a combination which has since gone on to appear frequently in fiction). At the time, no dinosaur with this combination of features was actually known. In 2015, a dinosaur named Regaliceratops was discovered that looked almost exactly like the one in Knight's painting — and it came from the same time as the Agathaumas fossils too.

    Comic Books 
  • Flesh featured "furry tyrannosaurs". Decades before the discoveries of actual feathered tyrannosaurs: Dilong in 2004 and Yutyrannus in 2012.
  • Superman: In Superboy (1949) #90 (July, 1961), a picture shows an Allosaurus's body held horizontally, with its tail balancing out its head, even though theropods's traditional portrayals had them to stand up straight like a kangaroo. Several years later, paleontologists realized that the "tripod" pose was wrong, and theropods held their bodies horizontally.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes: One Sunday strip from 1990 features the "Calvinosaurus", a monstrous carnosaur which is bigger than Tyrannosaurus rex and eats sauropods. 1995 saw the discovery of a sauropod-hunting carnosaur that gained fame for usurping T. rex in size, and its name is Giganotosaurus. Although it should be noted Giganotosaurus is roughly the same height and mass as T. rex, whereas Calvinosaurus is ridiculously enormous to the point of devouring the largest sauropods in a single bite. Also, Giganotosaurus lived in the Cretaceous, not in the Jurassic like Calvinosaurus.

    Films — Animation 
  • A Bug's Life: Dim is 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.
  • Finding Nemo: Although the blue whale that swallows Marlin and Dory in the film being portrayed as having a uvula (the grape-like ball that hangs in the back of your throat) was initially seen as inaccurate, the discovery in 2022 of a similar "oral plug" in many baleen whales that closes their airways off when lunging for food, much like a human uvula, rendered the addition of the organ somewhat accurate after all.
  • 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.
  • Ice Age:
    • The franchise, starting in 2002, has a "sabre-toothed squirrel" named Scrat. 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. The third movie introduces Scrat's Distaff Counterpart, Scratte, who lives in a Lost World with Mesozoic dinosaurs, which is a more accurate environment for Cronopio.
    • The Gastornis from the sequels don't appear to invoke the same Carnivore Confusion among herbivores as other carnivores in the series do. Skip ahead several years and it's discovered that Gastornis was actually a herbivore. Downplayed in that the herbivorous interpretation still existed at the time, it just wouldn't become the consensus until a few years later.
  • The Land Before Time:
    • In the first movie, a group of aggressive Pachycephalosaurus attack Cera. Though they might be territorial, their slobbering expressions indicate they are trying to eat her, even though at the time the species was believed to be strictly herbivorous (which is reflected in the sequels). However, a 2018 finding showed that Pachycephalosaurus had sharp front teeth, indicating a potentially omnivorous diet that if true may have included baby dinosaurs.
    • Also in the first movie, the gang managing to find food becomes thwarted by a herd of Diplodocus which weirdly have mouths shaped like beaks. With the discovery of well-preserved sauropod skulls in recent years, it would seem sauropods had hard mouths similar to beaks.
  • Pinocchio: Monstro the whale resembles a gigantic sperm whale with huge teeth on both upper and lower jaws, something real life sperm whales lack (having only thin teeth on their lower jaw). In 2008, a prehistoric sperm whale called Livyatan was discovered with gigantic tearing teeth on both jaws.
  • Shark Tale portrays the Great White Sharks as being part of an extended mafia family when, for the longest time, they were believed to be solitary sea creatures. However, recent studies has shown that while Great Whites mainly lives solo, they do occasionally meet up with other Great Whites near abundant sources of food, with their social behaviors being much deeper and more complex than people give them credit for, as they seem to genuinely enjoy the company of others of their kind every once in a while.
  • In Tarzan and the spin-off series The Legend of Tarzan, gorillas are shown catching termites with sticks. Not exactly a fictional species but a behaviour not associated with them and given a pass because Tarzan's family are, for all intents and purposes, more similar to humans than real-life simians. (As a matter of fact, back in 1999, when the movie was made, it was believed that only chimpanzees do this). However, in 2014, similar behavior was also observed in mountain gorillas. A reminder that we give less credit to gorillas than the one they deserve.
  • Fantasia:
    • The Tyrannosaurus rex was going to have two fingers as in reality, but Walt Disney himself thought three fingers looked better and changed it. The movie has the Tyrannosaurus fight a Stegosaurus, which actually lived roughly 80 million years before Tyrannosaurus... and along the three-fingered carnosaur Allosaurus (which interestingly was planned to appear in the movie but got cut).
    • Despite being in a time when dinosaurs were thought to be lumbering dimwits, the ones in "The Rite of Spring" display such behaviors as parental care and the bipeds (including the Tyrannosaurus) running with their tails off of the ground for counterbalance. These behaviors would be vindicated by the Dinosaur Renaissance occurring later in the 1970s.
  • In Over the Hedge, when Hammy and RJ are stealing cookies from The Girl Scouts, Hammy threatens a reflection of himself on a car bumper. In real life, squirrels are territorial animals and would growl and attack another squirrel and most don't even recognize their own reflections so his reaction to his own reflection is pretty accurate.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Many fish have pharyngeal jaws, an extra set of mandibles at the entrance to the throat, but for the most part they are small and easy to miss, and the monster from Alien was the Trope Codifier for Nested Mouths. However, years after the film came out, it was discovered that moray eels' pharyngeal jaws are almost as mobile as the xenomorph's.
  • Jurassic Park (1993): The velociraptors are nothing like and much larger than real-life Velociraptor, which was about the size of turkey, and are based on Deinonychus instead — but are, in fact, far too large to be Deinonychus either, as even the largest specimens didn't quite reach a meter of height at the shoulder. However, after filming of the first movie had started, an even larger species than the movie raptors 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. Both are still not complete matches, since Utahraptor and Dakotaraptor had feathers (the arm bones of Dakotaraptor even have quill knobs to prove it) unlike the raptors in the book and movie (also, a number of palaeontologists are skeptical about the validity of Dakotaraptor, considering it likely a chimera made up of different reptile bones jumbled together). Also, Utahraptor turned out to be more bizarre-looking than JP's raptors in having a stockier build, shorter legs and tail, and a procumbent jaw.
  • Jurassic Park III: A two-fold example:
    • The size of Spinosaurus, known by mostly fragmentary remains at the time, was exaggerated in order to make it a more terrible threat than the previous films' Tyrannosaurus. Later findings revealed that Spinosaurus was the largest carnivorous dinosaur of all time.
    • The scene with the Spinosaurus swimming behind a river boat and sneaking on it was recycled from the first book, where a Tyrannosaurus did this on a park's tour barge. It was already known at the time that Spinosaurus was mainly a fish eater but it was believed it stayed on the river margins and captured passing fish like a crane or a grizzly bear. In 2014, it was discovered that Spinosaurus was adapted to swimming to the point of being semiaquatic and having trouble walking on land on two legs. The 2020 discovery of Spinosaurus's tadpole-like tail further confirmed its aquatic lifestyle.
  • 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.
  • In Napoleon Dynamite, the main character doodles "ligers", "a lion-tiger mix, bred for its skills in magic". Since the creature looks nothing like a real one, either the character or the filmmakers were unaware that lions and tigers can breed in captivity and that the hybrids they produce are indeed known as "ligers". People who watched the movie first may believe that reports of ligers are hoaxes because of it. This is addressed in the animated spin-off series, where Napoleon encounters much more realistic ligers that are lazy zoo animals with no magical powers. Except one cub, who is every bit as awesome and magical as Napoleon believes.
  • Rebirth of Mothra 3: When Mothra Leo first arrives in the late Cretaceous period, there are a couple glimpses of a Brachiosaurus-like sauropod living alongside Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops, as a seeming case of Anachronism Stew. Years later, it would turn out that titanosaurs (including Alamosaurus, the sauropod that was a contemporary of T. rex) were closely related to brachiosaurs.
  • The 1940 film One Million B.C. (the original version of the more famous 1966 One Million Years B.C.) features a "dinosaur" that is a crocodile with a sail taped on its back. Discoveries in 2014 and then in 2020 demonstrated that Spinosaurus had very crocodile-like proportions (elongated skull, short hind legs, broad paddle-like tail), looking very much like a crocodile with a sail on its back.
  • Many film dinosaurs also involved large lizards with horns taped to their brows to give them a ceratopsian-like appearance, with a notable example being 1960's The Lost World. In 2017, Shringasaurus, a giant, quadrapedal archosaur relative was discovered, with a roughly lizard-like body plan aside from the presence of two brow horns.
  • The evil Skeksis from The Dark Crystal, resembling reptilian vultures, look more like accurate depictions of dromaeosaurids than any of the depictions of those dinosaurs at the time of the movie's release.

  • All Yesterdays: All Your Yesterdays, the fan-made response contains three hypotheticals about extinct animals that later turned up on the fossil record:
    • A filter-feeding anomalocarid, "Cetiocaris", was almost immediately followed by the discovery of Tamisocaris. The discoverers referenced the fictional creature directly when they proposed the name Cetiocaridae for a new clade containing Tamisocaris.
    • The small, tree-climbing, long-fingered scansoriopterygid dinosaurs, which were interpreted at the time as aye-aye like, were speculated to be gliders with membranous wings similar to gliding mammals, but unheard of in dinosaurs. Yi qi, a new scansoripterigid with preserved membrane impressions, was published three years later.
    • The pterosaur Rhamphorhynchus depicted as diving into the water to catch its prey, rather than skim-feeding on the surface. This is now considered the likelier feeding method of most pterosaurs.
  • Earth's Children: In the second book (1982), set in Eastern Europe 30,000 years ago, Ayla claims to have seen a sabertooth cat once. This is treated as an example of Not So Extinct, with Jondalar being amazed and saying that he only knows of a very old man who saw one, but it was a stretch because sabertooths were believed to have disappeared from the Old World in the Middle Pleistocene, thousands of years before modern humans colonized Europe. However, in 2003 a Homotherium jaw was fished out of the North Sea, and dated right to the time setting of the book.
  • Insofar as humans qualify as animals, the titular race from The Hobbit became recognised as a reality of human history when paleontologists discovered Homo floresiensis, a species of 3-foot tall hominins that lived on the Flores island roughly a thousand years ago.
  • The Monster of Partridge Creek: The story features a large carnivorous dinosaur hunting fast prey, living in a snowy climate, and having a thick coat of feathers... in 1902. Ironically, the last two points are subversions, as Ceratosaurus, the species the creature is based on, was found to have lived in a warm climate and be explicitly not feathered.
  • Moby-Dick: In the infamous chapter "Cetology," among various fishy takes on its title subject, Ishmael declares that he does not consider dugongs or "lamatins" (manatees) to be whales... which they're not, but it's clear that he holds this view less because of any sound scientific reasoning and more because he doesn't like them. At the time, mammal classification was in its infancy, and manatees were sometimes considered to be related to whales. Now, it is known that manatees and dugongs are related not to whales, but to elephants.
  • The New Dinosaurs: An Alternative Evolution: Some types of creature created as part of the book's Speculative Biology 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, did indeed exist.
    • Large flightless birds did evolve in the presence of non-avian dinosaurs. Gargantuavis in particular is not too unlike the troumble.
    • Fur-like plumage was present on several ornithischians (Tianyulong, Psittacosaurus, and Kulindadromeus).
    • A number of dinosaurs are portrayed with "fur", which, at the time, was a very unorthodox idea (it's due to the book largely copy-pasting modern mammals with dinosaur skins for its creations, not because of any real consideration between the dinosaur-bird link). As science marched on, it was discovered that many dinosaur species were covered in downy feathers that could look fairly fur-like.
    • Some scansoriopterygids — small Asian coelurosaurs — such as Yi and Ambopteryx have since been discovered to have glided with membranous wings.
  • Raptor Red:
    • Bakker included a therizinosaur ("segnosaur") 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. Although the book depicts them as burrowing quadrupeds (since even their identity as theropods was tenuous at the time).
    • When the book was written in 1995, no Early Cretaceous diplodocids were known. Then, in 2014, Leinkupal laticauda was found in Argentina. Granted, it lived in a different continent from Utahraptor, but it still lived at exactly the same time.
  • Paddington Bear:
    • The titular character is a bear from Peru. The only bears native to that region are spectacled bears, but Paddington looks more like a brown bear. Around 2016, a wildlife photographer discovered a spectacled bear with a golden-brown fur color, different from the normal dark brown or black fur color of common spectacled bears. The photographer even noted the similarity between the golden spectacled bear and Paddington Bear.
    • Paddington was originally supposed to come from "Darkest Africa"; it was changed to "Darkest Peru" after someone pointed that there are no bears in Africa but there are in Peru. However, before the 19th century there was indeed a small brown bear subspecies in the mountains of North Africa.
  • In John Hodgman's The Areas of My Expertise, he tells a long, absurd story about how the term "lobster" originally referred to a type of sea otter found on the coast of New England, which was driven to extinction by the introduction of "new lobsters" to America (a story parodying the disastrous introduction of starlings to the New World in Real Life), and how for a while, Maine fishermen would use the term "furry old lobster" to distinguish the otters from the crustaceans. Hodgman's friend Jonathan Coulton even wrote a tie-in Protest Song called "Furry Old Lobster", lamenting the decline of the fictional animal, turning it into a kind of a mascot for the book. A few years later, the yeti crab - a deep-sea, fur-bearing crustacean - was discovered. In Hodgman's next book, More Information Than You Require, he takes the existence of an actual furry lobster-like creature as kind of a personal challenge from reality, and promises the reader that his ability to make up truly ridiculous lies is undiminished.
    • On a whole different level, there was an actual marine mustelid in New England that was driven to extinction by human hunting in the 1860s: the Sea Mink.
  • Quest for Fire:
    • Despite being published in 1911, the book has even more different hominid species than the film, all coexisting on a vaguely Eurasian setting. At the time it was only known that Neanderthals and H. sapiens had coexisted in Europe. Nowadays, we know that Neanderthals, H. sapiens, and a third hominid species (Denisovans) coexisted in Central Asia. Also that several hominid species existed at the same time in early Pleistocene Africa and in Late Pleistocene Southeast Asia.
    • The "blue-haired men" were modeled on African mountain gorillas, which had been recently discovered at the time. Twenty-four years later, the giant gorilla-like ape Gigantopithecus was discovered in East Asia.
  • The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen: In the first (tall) tale, Munchausen is attacked by a lion in a hunting trip in Sri Lanka. Back in 1785 educated people would laugh at the claim that lions lived in that island, but in 1939 it was discovered fossil evidence that a lion subspecies (Panthera leo sinhaleyus) inhabited Sri Lanka thirty-seven thousand years ago.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Diggers from Dinosapien are a case of this. They look, at best, like bipedal ankylosaurs, and at worst, like something totally made-up. But in 2022, a real bipedal armored dinosaur called Jakapil was discovered in Argentina.
  • The Future is Wild (2003):
    • The 5 million years AD segment has "Carakillers", a flightless terror bird-mimic evolved from South American caracara. A Pleistocene flightless caracara was discovered in Jamaica in 2008.
    • Fans assumed that the four-winged Great Blue Windrunner, from the 100 million years AD segment, was inspired by Microraptor, a gliding dinosaur discovered to have been four-winged in the same year. However, according to Dougal Dixon, the Windrunner was thought up alone by the show's ornithology consultant Phil Currie, without Currie being aware of Microraptor.
    • The Spitfire Beetle is a beetle that uses mimicry to prey on vertebrates that would normally eat them. In 2011, it was discovered that Epomis ground beetles do exactly that, only with frogs instead of birds.
  • Walking with Beasts cheaped out on their portrayal of European cave lions by reusing their Dinofelis (a short-fanged sabertooth cat) with a different coat. However, in 2003 it was discovered that a short-fanged sabertooth cat, Homotherium, was alive in the time and location of the episode.
  • Walking with Cavemen: The scene where an eagle hunts a baby Australopithecus is likely based on reports of African eagles hunting monkeys. Three years later, it was published that the Taung Child (the first identified Australopithecus and probably the most famous after Lucy) had been killed and eaten by an eagle.
  • In Planet Dinosaur the chaoyangopterid model is re-utilised to represent some pterosaurs in the mid-Cretaceous of Africa. As it happens, an actual chaoyangopterid would be found there a decade after the show debuted, Apatorhamphus. This is a subversion, however, as Apatorhamphus had a distinctively downward-sloping skull, unlike the relatively flat skull of Lacusovagus, which the model is apparently based on.
  • Walking with Dinosaurs:
    • The dromaeosaurid from the last episode, "Death of a Dynasty", was seen as an example of Anachronism Stew, as Dromaeosaurus (what the animal was called during production despite its flaws) was extinct by the K/Pg extinction. Skip ahead to 2013, and the dromaeosaur Acheroraptor, just the right size to match with this creature, is discovered in the exact formation the episode takes place in (indeed, the study naming Acheroraptor states that the dromaeosaur teeth of Hell Creek initially assigned, tentatively, to Dromaeosaurus likely belonged to Acheroraptor).
    • The Tapejara (now considered Tupandactylus navigans) in "Giant of the Skies" were restored as mainly black with a red crest, years before fossil evidence confirmed those same colors.
    • The Didelphodon, while completely inaccurate per later fossil evidence (which found it had a more otter-like body, rather than badger-like), turned out to be a remarkably close depiction of other Cretaceous mammals also discovered later, like Repenomamus and Nanocuris, both of which are known to have eaten dinosaur hatchlings.
    • The German Rhamphorhynchus is shown coexisting with Oxford Clay Formation in England, likely based off fragmentary fossils from the site previously classified within the genus (and Rhamphorhynchus being thought to have a much bigger geographical range at the time due to scrappy Jurassic pterosaur fossils from around the world ascribed to it), but have since been determined to be dubious and likely represent unrelated rhamphorhynchoids (on top of the fact the episode is set more than ten million years after all the Oxford Clay fauna died out). However, an actual English Rhamphorhynchus was discovered in 2002 (named Rhamphorhynchus etchesi in 2015), and lived at the exact time the episode is set to boot (in the younger Kimmeridge Clay Formation).

    Puppet Shows 

    Video Games 
  • Age of Empires: The first game is notorious for Misplaced Wildlife, featuring African elephants, bald eagles, and alligators in a setting that was originally intended to include only Greece and the Middle East. However, Microsoft told Ensemble to include East Asian factions to boost sales in Asia... and there happens to be a Chinese species of alligator.
  • Pokémon:
    • Slugma and Magcargo are a Fire/Rock-type slug and snail made of lava and debuted in Generation 2 in 1999. Two years later, a species of snails would be discovered to live near volcanoes, camouflaged as volcanic rocks and lava as well as able to withstand high temperatures in order to live there. However, Slugma and Magcargo would not be found in volcanic areas in the games until after the real-life volcanic snails were discovered.
    • Pokémon Sword and Shield introduced Clobbopus, a curious octopus Pokémon who investigates things by punching at them. A year or two later, scientists confirmed that real life octopuses do deliberately punch fish, sometimes for no reason.
  • Saurian's decision to paint the Dakotaraptor eggs blue was inspired by eggshells of Oviraptor, a distant relative of dromaeosaurs (the devs only decided to also feature a playable oviraptorosaur, Anzu, later). It was later discovered that the eggs of Deinonychus, a very close relative of Dakotaraptor, were also blue.
  • Dino Crisis:
    • Some of the most difficult enemies in the first game are the Therizinosaurus, depicted as carnivorous dinosaurs with giant slashing claws on their hands. It was not until after the game was released that real therizinosaurs were established as herbivores. However, their portrayal bears a resemblance to a real dinosaur called Megaraptor, which at the time was itself mistakenly believed to be a giant dromaeosaur.
    • The second game features the gorgonopsian therapsid Inostrancevia, which is inaccurately portrayed as an armored reptile rather than the mammal relative it was in real life. However, its depiction makes it more similar to the terrestrial crocodyliforms, particularly Kaprosuchus discovered years later.
  • Donkey Kong Country: The Kremlings steal the Kongs' banana hoard because, according to the manual, they are good source of nutrition, despite crocodiles being carnivores. In real life, crocodilians actually do like to eat fruit, although it's akin to humans eating sweets.

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

    Web Original 
  • Spec World:
    • It's noted that while the Mesozoic fossil record for Specworld is by large the same as our world (since the explicit point of divergence is the K/Pg-extinction event), there are a few fossils found exclusively there, which the text speculates represent taxa that exist in both timelines and simply have not been found in our world yet. One of these is a monotreme from the Late Cretaceous of South America (called Mirabilotheridium). In 2022, a monotreme from the Late Cretaceous of South America was indeed described (known as Patagorhynchus).
    • The website also placed then-indeterminate southern hemisphere ornithopods like Gasparinisaura and Leaellynasaura in the made-up group "Australornithopoda". In 2019, these southern ornithopods were found to be a natural group after all, and this group was given the name Elasmaria.

    Western Animation 
  • Godzilla: The Series: Komodithrax is depicted as reproducing asexually like Godzilla. While iguanas capable of reproducing asexually are still unknown, in 2005, it was discovered Komodo dragons are indeed able to produce fertile eggs without a mate.
  • The Wuzzles: Crocosaurus is a crocodile-dinosaur hybrid as his name suggests. Not only are crocodiles and dinosaurs closely related to each other, but there were dinosaur-like relatives of crocodiles (rauisuchians, aetosaurs, etc.) and dinosaurs with crocodile-like heads (spinosaurids).
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • Mr. Fluffypants is depicted as having a completely white front end, white feet, and a completely black back end and tail reminiscent of black pants. There is a type of cat with white spotting that was discovered in Russia in the 2010s that creates such a pattern, called the Panda pattern, in the mid- to high-grade form.
    • The teal coloration of Perry the Platypus (done simply for Rule of Cool) was surprisingly validated by the discovery published in 2020 that platypuses actually have biofluorescent greenish pelts when viewed in ultraviolet light conditions. Similarly, real platypuses really do make noises similar to Perry's chattering (though of course not with their teeth, which they don't have). Interviews have indicated that neither the show's creators nor Perry's voice actor were aware of this during production.
  • The Scooby-Doo Show: The Snow Beast from "A Scary Night With a Snow Beast Fright" looks like a T. rex covered in white fuzz. In the 1970s. Before the discoveries that many dinosaurs had body coverings of feathers. That's right, one of the first feathered dinosaurs ever to appear in fiction was in a Scooby-Doo episode. Granted, it was a "Scooby-Doo" Hoax, but still!
  • Darkwing Duck: In the episode "Jurassic Jumble", Darkwing gets turned into a dinosaur that not only retains his feathery duck's head, but also appears to be covered in green feathers. And this was only a few years before the first feathered non-avian dinosaur would be discovered. Ironically, Darkwing's dinosaur form is a Not Zilla, much larger than any feathered (or featherless) dinosaur. Doubly ironically, one of the largest dinosaurs with feathers, Deinocheirus, would be revealed to have a duck-like head in 2014.
  • Sitting Ducks: In "Aldo the Duck", Aldo grows feathers as a result of overdosing on duck hormone patches. In 2017, scientists have discovered crocodilians have the same feather development genes as in birds, even tweaking the genes of alligator embryos to trigger the first steps in growing feathers.
  • Dink, the Little Dinosaur: In "Sea Rescue", the protagonists have to help two plesiosaurs who are stranded on a beach after a tidal wave. At the time, it was thought that plesiosaurs would have been able to crawl out of the water on their own, the way seals do, but we now know that they were fully aquatic just like whales, making the episode ahead of its time.
  • Looney Tunes: Taz's trademark noises consisting of growls, screeches, snorts and yells were improvisions by Mel Blanc due to no one in the staff knowing what Tasmanian devils sound like. However, real-life Tasmanian devils do make noises that sound similar to Taz's. Quite a bit of Taz's behavior and traits are within caricature distance of the real animal as well- they're known for having rather belligerent temperaments and a habit of eating anything vaguely food-like or food-adjacent, backed by absurd jaw strength that lets them replicate some of their cartoon counterpart's feats like chewing through metal cages and fences.

    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.
  • In 1843, naturalist Edward Newman suggested that the recently discovered pterosaurs were bat-like, flying marsupials, and created a piece of art portraying them as such. While he couldn't have been more wrong, he depicted them with mammalian fur, which looks quite similar to the pycnofibres that pterosaurs had in real life.
  • 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 hypothesized a "Tetrapteryx" stage in bird evolution where avian ancestors had feathers on their wings and legs (it should be noted that the evolutionary link between birds and dinosaurs would not be established for several decades, and indeed was discredited at the time due to a number of assumptions now known to be false). In 2003, Microraptor was discovered, a dinosaur which had long feathers on both its arms and legs.
  • Back in the 1990s, the "Longhair Sphynx" or "Powderpuff Sphynx" was a fancy April Fool's joke, poking fun at breed classification by registries. Several years after the joke, a longhaired mutant Sphynx really did appear. Said cat was a neutered domestic pet. It had long, fine fur on the chest and sides and short fur on the legs, but was bald elsewhere. This gave it the appearance of a maned cat.
    • In February 2009, a similar cat, known as Ugly Bat Boy, was reported in Exeter New Hampshire, USA. He was part of a litter of four kittens, two normal, plus he and a similar-looking female sibling that died at a few weeks old.
  • In 1903, Brontosaurus was judged to have simply been an Apatosaurus skeleton (in large part because its original classification relied on a skull that turned out to have been taken from an unrelated sauropod, Camarasaurus) and all specimens of it were reassigned to the older genus. Popular fiction however continued to depict Brontosaurus as its own thing over the following century. In 2015, analysis of Apatosaurus parvus (formerly Brontosaurus parvus) remains decided that they were distinct enough from other Apatosaurus skeletons to classify as a distinct genus and resurrected the Brontosaurus name for them, making those older works Accidentally Correct in hindsight.
  • The same goes for any genera that were a fairly common sight in older works that had been considered to be a junior synonym but later turned out to be separate after all. Particularly Dinichthys (formerly synonymous with Dunkleosteus), Eohippus (formerly synonymous with Hyracotherium), Scolosaurus (formerly synonymous with Euoplocephalus), and Stenonychosaurus (formerly synonymous with Troodonnote ).
  • An old Australian hoax pulled on tourists is that of the drop bear a supposed deadly koala that jumps unsuspecting people from trees. Cue the discovery of Thylacoleo carnifex, the "marsupial lion". Some scientists believe it jumped down at prey from trees (like the similarly sized leopard does), and it coexisted with prehistoric humans. It remains unclear if the drop bear hoax has origins in native oral history of the creature, or the similarities are a mere coincidence.
  • The hoop snake is one of the many Fearsome Critters of American Folklore (and Australia), described as being able to grab its tail in its mouth and cartwheel down hills. This ability is also attributed to the Japanese Tsuchinoko. It was meant to be a ridiculous, made-up Tall Tale beastie, but in 2023, a species of snake was actually filmed doing this exact thing as a defence mechanism.
  • When Gideon Mantell restored the first ever dinosaur skeleton in 1834, he famously misinterpreted Iguanodon's thumb spike as a nose horn. But like all dinosaurs, Iguanodon actually had a nose horn... as a hatchling.
  • Andrewsarchus was originally described as a mesonychid, which were believed to be related to whales. It was later discovered that mesonychids were not whale relatives, but also that Andrewsarchus (not actually a mesonychid), was.
  • Instances of Polar Bears and Penguins that keep their penguin species and time setting vague (or not explicitly set in any time after the 1850s) are this, by virtue of (Antarctic) penguins being actually named after a flightless, black-and-white bird from the Arctic that was hunted to extinction in the 1840s, also called the great auk.
  • The Baku of Japanese mythology heavily resemble tapirs, even though they were first depicted long before any Japanese person had seen a tapir. The modern Japanese word for tapir is, you guessed it, Baku. They don't eat dreams, though.
  • Any older work that depicts Iguanodon battling with Megalosaurus, despite the former being from the Early Cretaceous and the latter from the Middle Jurassic. In 1996, it would turn out Iguanodon did live with a large carnivorous dinosaur, Neovenator, although Neovenator was related to Allosaurus rather than Megalosaurus. On the other hand, the spinosaurs turned out to be related to Megalosaurus, and both Iguanodon and Neovenator did live with spinosaurs, particularly Baryonyx.


Video Example(s):


Perry the Platypus

During the creation process of Phineas and Ferb, showrunner Dan Povenmire decided to make Perry the Platypus teal green and have him make purring noises, both because they were distinctive, and that he never did research into the biology of platypi. As it turns out, however, not only do platypi glow teal green when placed under a blacklight, but they actually do purr in real life, which leaves Dan stunned upon finding this out.

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Example of:

Main / AccidentallyCorrectZoology

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