Capricorn is commonly represented as a mythical sea-goat, but is it possible that at one time such a creature actually existed and, if so, what became of them?
Not long ago I stumbled upon a site which peaked my interest in this topic. There was an article at phys.org entitled “Extinct Goat was Cold-Blooded.” Since reptiles are cold-blooded, was it possible that a goat existed which was also part reptile? Let me quote verbatim from the article:
“An extinct goat that lived on a barren Mediterranean island survived for millions of years by reducing in size and by becoming cold-blooded, which has never before been discovered in mammals. The goat, Myotragus balearicus, lived on what is now Majorca, a Spanish island. The island had scarce resources, and there was no way for the goats to leave, and so scientists wondered how they had thrived for so long. A recently published research paper reveals the extinct goat survived by adjusting its growth rate and metabolism to suit the available food, becoming cold-blooded like reptiles. Paleontologists studying fossilized Myotragus bones compared them to bones of reptiles living in the same region at the same time, and found surprising similarities.”
Unfortunately, after 5 million years of existence these sea-goats became extinct after humans moved to the island about 3000 years ago. To quote again from the article: “Myotragus survived on the island as dwarf cold-blooded animals for millenia because they had no natural enemies, but they could not survive the predation of humans when they arrived on the island about 3,000 years ago. In total, the species inhabited the island for over five million years.”
Interestingly, in Hindu astrology, the equivalent of Capricorn is Makara, the Crocodile and it turns out that crocodiles have not always been cold-blooded. An article is phys.org explains that a certain group of warm-blooded crocodiles thrived in the Jurassic cold snap. To quote verbatim: “at least one type of prehistoric crocodile was warm-blooded. … his likely enabled the animals, which lived during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, to thrive during a spell of global cooling around 150 million years ago. … “This discovery helps us better understand these bizarre crocs. They rapidly changed from animals looking similar to modern long-snouted crocodiles, to ones with flippers, a tail fin and massive, forward-facing eyes.” (bold and italics mine)