Samos is a famous place for palaeontology. Most of the fossils are found in the Mytilini basin N of the village Mytilini and E of the Ampelos massif (Figs 1 and 2). Numerous fossils of mammals have primarily been found on Samos but there are other groups of animals and plants. A cartoon of the species is presented as the Samos family portrait (Fig. 3). The cartoon shows the species reconstructed in a simple manner. Many scientific excavations and studies have been conducted on Samos fossils. In addition, Mayor (2000) has shown that ancient people were aware of the presence of fossils in various locations and often correctly interpreted them. Myths and legends were used as explanations of the fossils. Fossils were dragons, sea monsters or Cyclops. The ancient Greeks had written two myths trying to interpret the Samos fossils and the occurrence of earthquakes at Samos. Solounias and Mayor (2004) have expanded on these ancient myths and their interpretations and a summary is given here.
Figure 1. Map showing outcrops of bone beds.
Figure 2. Detailed map showing bone bed valley NNW of Mytilini.
Figure 3. Samos family portrait.
In about 200 BC, a Greek geographer named Euphorion wrote about monsters called the Neades. His works are now lost, but the natural historian Aelian (3rd century AD) quoted him: ‘Euphorion says in his memoirs that during the very very old times, Samos became deserted; deserted due to very large and fierce beasts which appeared on it [on Samos], they caused sufferings and were called Neades, and their mere roar could fracture the earth; thus there is a proverb on Samos “to scream louder than the Neades”. The same writer [Euphorion] says that their big bones for years are now displayed.