Sometimes I feel like evolution has made it much harder for me to really enjoy monsters of various kinds in stories. I like lamias and mermaids and such, but barring a creator deity, it’s just bizarre to think about how they would have ever come to be. In worlds where they exist, are there legless orangutans slithering around jungles? Chimpanzees with dolphin tails? The sheer number of similarities suggest a common ancestor between us and then, yet what sort of conditions could have prompted such fast evolution? I think it might be interesting to have a fantasy world where all sorts of diverse, fantastical creatures actually are the result of evolution as it exists in the real world.
I feel like this goes back to my earlier post about nutmeg in fantasy. If you only look at the present, it’s much easier for a story to be probable than if you actually think about its past and what series of events must have occurred in order for the story’s setting to exist. Have you ever had a moment like that while enjoying fiction, where you were suddenly thrown out of your suspension of disbelief because of a seemingly impossible past?