The jaguar is a wild cat species and the only extant member of the genus Panthera native to the Americas. The jaguar's present range extends from Southwestern United States and Mexico in North America, across much of Central America, south to Paraguay and northern Argentina in South America. Though there are single cats now living within the Western United States, the species has been extirpated from the United States since the early 20th century, it is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. Threats include fragmentation of habitat. Overall, the jaguar is the largest native cat species of the New World and the third largest in the world; this spotted cat resembles the leopard, but is larger and sturdier. It ranges across a variety of forested and open terrains, but its preferred habitat is tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forest and wooded regions; the jaguar enjoys swimming and is a solitary, stalk-and-ambush predator at the top of the food chain. As a keystone species it plays an important role in stabilizing ecosystems and regulating prey populations.
While international trade in jaguars or their body parts is prohibited, the cat is still killed in conflicts with ranchers and farmers in South America. Although reduced, its range remains large. Given its historical distribution, the jaguar has featured prominently in the mythology of numerous indigenous American cultures, including those of the Maya and Aztec; the word'jaguar' is thought to derive from the Tupian word yaguara, meaning "beast of prey". The word entered English via the Amazonian trade language Tupinambá, via Portuguese jaguar; the specific word for jaguar is yaguareté, with the suffix -eté meaning "real" or "true". The word'panther' derives from classical Latin panthēra, itself from the ancient Greek pánthēr. In Mexican Spanish, its nickname is el tigre: 16th century Spaniards had no native word in their language for the jaguar, smaller than a lion, but bigger than a leopard, nor had encountered it in the Old World, so named it after the tiger, since its ferocity would have been known to them through Roman writings and popular literature during the Renaissance.
Onca is the Portuguese onça, with the cedilla dropped for typographical reasons, found in English as ounce for the snow leopard, Panthera uncia. It derives with the letter L confused with the definite article. In 1758, Carl Linnaeus described the jaguar in his work Systema Naturae and gave it the scientific name Felis onca. In the 19th and 20th centuries, several jaguar type specimens formed the basis for descriptions of subspecies. In 1939, Reginald Innes Pocock recognized eight subspecies based on geographic origins and skull morphology of these specimens. Pocock did not have access to sufficient zoological specimens to critically evaluate their subspecific status, but expressed doubt about the status of several. Consideration of his work suggested only three subspecies should be recognized; the description of P. o. palustris was based on a fossil skull. The author of Mammal Species of the World listed nine subspecies and both P. o. palustris or P. o. paraguensis separately. Results of morphologic and genetic research indicate a clinal north–south variation between populations, but no evidence for subspecific differentiation.
A subsequent, more detailed study confirmed the predicted population structure within jaguar populations in Colombia. IUCN Red List assessors for the species and members of the Cat Specialist Group do not recognize any jaguar subspecies as valid; the following table is based on the former classification of the species provided in Mammal Species of the World. The genus Panthera evolved in Asia between six and ten million years ago; the jaguar is thought to have diverged from a common ancestor of the Panthera at least 1.5 million years ago and to have entered the American continent in the Early Pleistocene via Beringia, the land bridge that once spanned the Bering Strait. Results of jaguar mitochondrial DNA analysis indicate that the species' lineage evolved between 280,000 and 510,000 years ago, its immediate ancestor was Panthera onca augusta, larger than the contemporary jaguar. Phylogenetic studies have shown the clouded leopard is basal to this group. Fossils of extinct Panthera species, such as the European jaguar and the American lion, show characteristics of both the jaguar and the lion.
Based on morphological evidence, the British zoologist Reginald Innes Pocock concluded that the jaguar is most related to the leopard. However, DNA-based evidence is inconclusive, the position of the jaguar relative to the other species varies between studies; the jaguar is a well-muscled animal. It is the largest cat native to the Americas and the third largest in the world, exceeded in size by the tiger and lion, its coat is a tawny yellow, but ranges to reddish-brown, for most of the body. The ventral areas are white; the fur is covered with rosettes for camouflage in the dappled light of its forest habitat. The spots and their shapes vary between individual jaguars: rosettes may include one or several dots; the spots on the head and neck are solid, as are those on the tail, where they may merge to form a band. Forest jaguars are darker and smaller than those in open areas due to the smaller numbers of large, herbivorous prey in forest areas, its size and weight vary considerably: weights are in the range of 56–96 kg.
Exceptionally big males have been recorded to weigh as much as 158 kg
Aztec mythology is the body or collection of myths of Aztec civilization of Central Mexico. The Aztecs were Nahuatl-speaking groups living in central Mexico and much of their mythology is similar to that of other Mesoamerican cultures. According to legend, the various groups who were to become the Aztecs arrived from the north into the Anahuac valley around Lake Texcoco; the location of this valley and lake of destination is clear – it is the heart of modern Mexico City – but little can be known with certainty about the origin of the Aztec. There are different accounts of their origin. In the myth the ancestors of the Mexica/Aztec came from a place in the north called Aztlan, the last of seven nahuatlacas to make the journey southward, hence their name "Azteca." Other accounts cite their origin at Tamoanchan. The Mexica/Aztec were said to be guided by their god Huitzilopochtli, meaning "Left-handed Hummingbird" or "Hummingbird from the South." At an island in Lake Texcoco, they saw an eagle holding a rattlesnake in its talons, perched on a nopal cactus.
This vision fulfilled a prophecy telling them. The Aztecs built their city of Tenochtitlan on that site, building a great artificial island, which today is in the center of Mexico City; this legendary vision is pictured on the Coat of Arms of Mexico. According to legend, when the Mexicans arrived in the Anahuac valley around Lake Texcoco, they were considered by the other groups as the least civilized of all, but the Mexica/Aztec decided to learn, they took all they could from other people from the ancient Toltec. To the Aztec, the Toltec were the originators of all culture. Aztec legends identify the Toltecs and the cult of Quetzalcoatl with the legendary city of Tollan, which they identified with the more ancient Teotihuacan; because the Aztec adopted and combined several traditions with their own earlier traditions, they had several creation myths. One of these, the Five Suns describes four great ages preceding the present world, each of which ended in a catastrophe, "were named in function of the force or divine element that violently put an end to each one of them".
Coatlicue was the mother of Centzon Huitznahua, her sons, Coyolxauhqui, her daughter. She found a ball filled with feathers and placed it in her waistband, becoming pregnant with Huitzilopochtli, her other children became suspicious as to the identity of the father and vowed to kill their mother. She gave birth on Mount Coatepec, pursued by her children, but the newborn Huitzilopochtli defeated most of his brothers, who became the stars, he killed his half-sister Coyolxauhqui by tearing out her heart using a Xiuhcoatl and throwing her body down the mountain. This was said to inspire the Aztecs to rip the hearts out of their victims and throw their bodies down the sides of the temple dedicated to Huitzilopochtli, who represents the sun chasing away the stars at dawn. Our age, the fifth age, or fifth creation, began in the ancient city of Teotihuacan. According to the myth, all the gods had gathered to create a new age. Although the world and the sun had been created, it would only be through their sacrifice that the sun would be set into motion and time as well as history could begin.
The most handsome and strongest of the gods, was supposed to sacrifice himself but when it came time to self-immolate, he could not jump into the fire. Instead, Nanahuatl the smallest and humblest of the gods, covered in boils, sacrificed himself first and jumped into the flames; the sun was set into motion with his sacrifice and time began. Humiliated by Nanahuatl's sacrifice, Tecuciztecatl became the moon. Water deities god of rain and lightning and thunder, he is a fertility god Chalchiuhtlicue, goddess of water, rivers, streams, horizontal waters and baptism. Huixtocihuatl, goddess of salt Opochtli, god of fishing and birdcatchers, discoverer of the harpoon and net Atlahua, god of water, a fisherman and archer Fire deities Xiuhtecuhtli, god of fire and time Chantico, goddess of firebox and volcanoes Xolotl, god of death, associated with Venus as the Evening Star Death deities Mictlantecuhtli, god of the dead, ruler of the Underworld Mictecacihuatl, goddess of the dead, ruler of the Underworld Xolotl, god of death, associated with Venus as the Evening Star Sky deities Tezcatlipoca, god of providence, the darkness and the invisible, lord of the night, ruler of the North.
Xipe-Totec, god of force, lord of ruler of the East. Quetzalcoatl, god of the life, the light and wisdom, lord of the winds and the day, ruler of the West. Huitzilopochtli, god of the war, lord of ruler of the South. Xolotl, god of death, associated with Venus as the Evening Star Ehecatl, god of wind Tlaloc, god of rain and lightning and thunder, he is a fertility god Coyolxauhqui and leader of the Centzonhuitznahua, associated with the moon Meztli, goddess of moon Tonatiuh, god of sun Centzonmimixcoa, 400 gods of the northern stars Centzonhuitznahua, 400 gods of the southern stars Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli, god of the morning star Lords of the Night Xiuhtecuhtli, god of fire and time Tezcatlipoca, god of providence, the darkness and the invisible, lord of the night, ruler of the North. Piltzintecuhtli, god of the visions,associated with Mercury (the planet that
Nahuatl, known as Aztec, is a language or group of languages of the Uto-Aztecan language family. Varieties of Nahuatl are spoken by about 1.7 million Nahua peoples, most of whom live in central Mexico. Nahuatl has been spoken in central Mexico since at least the seventh century CE, it was the language of the Aztecs, who dominated what is now central Mexico during the Late Postclassic period of Mesoamerican history. During the centuries preceding the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, the Aztecs had expanded to incorporate a large part of central Mexico, their influence caused the variety of Nahuatl spoken by the residents of Tenochtitlan to become a prestige language in Mesoamerica. At the conquest, with the introduction of the Latin alphabet, Nahuatl became a literary language, many chronicles, works of poetry, administrative documents and codices were written in it during the 16th and 17th centuries; this early literary language based on the Tenochtitlan variety has been labeled Classical Nahuatl, is among the most studied and best-documented languages of the Americas.
Today, Nahuan languages are spoken in scattered communities in rural areas throughout central Mexico and along the coastline. There are considerable differences among varieties, some are not mutually intelligible. Huasteca Nahuatl, with over one million speakers, is the most-spoken variety. All varieties have been subject to varying degrees of influence from Spanish. No modern Nahuan languages are identical to Classical Nahuatl, but those spoken in and around the Valley of Mexico are more related to it than those on the periphery. Under Mexico's General Law of Linguistic Rights of the Indigenous Peoples promulgated in 2003, Nahuatl and the other 63 indigenous languages of Mexico are recognized as lenguas nacionales in the regions where they are spoken, enjoying the same status as Spanish within their regions. Nahuan languages exhibit a complex morphology characterized by polysynthesis and agglutination. Through a long period of coexistence with the other indigenous Mesoamerican languages, they have absorbed many influences, coming to form part of the Mesoamerican language area.
Many words from Nahuatl have been borrowed into Spanish and, from there, were diffused into hundreds of other languages. Most of these loanwords denote things indigenous to central Mexico which the Spanish heard mentioned for the first time by their Nahuatl names. English words of Nahuatl origin include "avocado", "chayote", "chili", "chocolate", "atlatl", "coyote", "peyote", "axolotl" and "tomato"; as a language label, the term "Nahuatl" encompasses a group of related languages or divergent dialects within the Nahuan branch of the Uto-Aztecan language family. The Mexican Instituto Nacional de Lenguas Indígenas recognizes 30 individual varieties within the "language group" labeled Nahuatl; the Ethnologue recognizes 28 varieties with separate ISO codes. Sometimes the label is used to include the Pipil language of El Salvador. Regardless of whether "Nahuatl" is considered to label a dialect continuum or a group of separate languages, the varieties form a single branch within the Uto-Aztecan family, descended from a single Proto-Nahuan language.
Within Mexico, the question of whether to consider individual varieties to be languages or dialects of a single language is political. This article focuses on describing the general history of the group and on giving an overview of the diversity it encompasses. For details on individual varieties or subgroups, see the individual articles. In the past, the branch of Uto-Aztecan to which Nahuatl belongs has been called "Aztecan". From the 1990s onward, the alternative designation "Nahuan" has been used as a replacement in Spanish-language publications; the Nahuan branch of Uto-Aztecan is accepted as having two divisions: "General Aztec" and Pochutec. General Aztec encompasses the Pipil languages. Pochutec is a scantily attested language, which became extinct in the 20th century, which Campbell and Langacker classify as being outside of general Aztec. Other researchers have argued that Pochutec should be considered a divergent variant of the western periphery."Nahuatl" denotes at least Classical Nahuatl together with related modern languages spoken in Mexico.
The inclusion of Pipil into the group is debated. Lyle Campbell classified Pipil as separate from the Nahuatl branch within general Aztecan, whereas dialectologists like Una Canger, Karen Dakin, Yolanda Lastra and Terrence Kaufman have preferred to include Pipil within the General Aztecan branch, citing close historical ties with the eastern peripheral dialects of General Aztec. Current subclassification of Nahuatl rests on research by Canger and Lastra de Suárez. Canger introduced the scheme of a Central grouping and two Peripheral groups, Lastra confirmed this notion, differing in some details. Canger & Dakin demonstrated a basic split between Eastern and Western branches of Nahuan, considered to reflect the oldest division of the proto-Nahuan speech community. Canger considered the central dialect area to be an innovative subarea within the Western branch, but in 2011, she suggested that it arose as an urban koiné language with features from both Western and Eastern dialect areas. Canger tentatively included dialects of La Huasteca in the Central group, while Lastra de Suárez places them in the Eastern Periphery, followed by Kaufman.
The terminology used to describe varieties of spoken Nahuatl is inconsistently applied. Many terms are used with multiple denotations, or a single dialect grou
Mesoamerica is a historical region and cultural area in North America. It extends from central Mexico through Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and northern Costa Rica, within this region pre-Columbian societies flourished before the Spanish colonization of the Americas. In the 16th century, European diseases like smallpox and measles caused the deaths of upwards of 90% of the indigenous people, it is one of five areas in the world where ancient civilization arose independently, the second in the Americas along with Norte Chico in present-day Peru, in the northern coastal region. As a cultural area, Mesoamerica is defined by a mosaic of cultural traits developed and shared by its indigenous cultures. Beginning as early as 7000 BCE, the domestication of cacao, beans, avocado, vanilla and chili, as well as the turkey and dog, caused a transition from paleo-Indian hunter-gatherer tribal grouping to the organization of sedentary agricultural villages. In the subsequent Formative period and cultural traits such as a complex mythological and religious tradition, a vigesimal numeric system, a complex calendric system, a tradition of ball playing, a distinct architectural style, were diffused through the area.
In this period, villages began to become stratified and develop into chiefdoms with the development of large ceremonial centers, interconnected by a network of trade routes for the exchange of luxury goods, such as obsidian, cacao, Spondylus shells and ceramics. While Mesoamerican civilization did know of the wheel and basic metallurgy, neither of these technologies became culturally important. Among the earliest complex civilizations was the Olmec culture, which inhabited the Gulf Coast of Mexico and extended inland and southwards across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Frequent contact and cultural interchange between the early Olmec and other cultures in Chiapas and Oaxaca laid the basis for the Mesoamerican cultural area. All this was facilitated by considerable regional communications in ancient Mesoamerica along the Pacific coast; this formative period saw the spread of distinct religious and symbolic traditions, as well as artistic and architectural complexes. In the subsequent Preclassic period, complex urban polities began to develop among the Maya, with the rise of centers such as El Mirador and Tikal, the Zapotec at Monte Albán.
During this period, the first true Mesoamerican writing systems were developed in the Epi-Olmec and the Zapotec cultures, the Mesoamerican writing tradition reached its height in the Classic Maya hieroglyphic script. Mesoamerica is one of only three regions of the world where writing is known to have independently developed. In Central Mexico, the height of the Classic period saw the ascendancy of the city of Teotihuacan, which formed a military and commercial empire whose political influence stretched south into the Maya area and northward. Upon the collapse of Teotihuacán around 600 AD, competition between several important political centers in central Mexico, such as Xochicalco and Cholula, ensued. At this time during the Epi-Classic period, the Nahua peoples began moving south into Mesoamerica from the North, became politically and culturally dominant in central Mexico, as they displaced speakers of Oto-Manguean languages. During the early post-Classic period, Central Mexico was dominated by the Toltec culture, Oaxaca by the Mixtec, the lowland Maya area had important centers at Chichén Itzá and Mayapán.
Towards the end of the post-Classic period, the Aztecs of Central Mexico built a tributary empire covering most of central Mesoamerica. The distinct Mesoamerican cultural tradition ended with the Spanish conquest in the 16th century. Over the next centuries, Mesoamerican indigenous cultures were subjected to Spanish colonial rule. Aspects of the Mesoamerican cultural heritage still survive among the indigenous peoples who inhabit Mesoamerica, many of whom continue to speak their ancestral languages, maintain many practices harking back to their Mesoamerican roots; the term Mesoamerica means "middle America" in Greek. Middle America refers to a larger area in the Americas, but it has previously been used more narrowly to refer to Mesoamerica. An example is the title of the 16 volumes of The Handbook of Middle American Indians. "Mesoamerica" is broadly defined as the area, home to the Mesoamerican civilization, which comprises a group of peoples with close cultural and historical ties. The exact geographic extent of Mesoamerica has varied through time, as the civilization extended North and South from its heartland in southern Mexico.
The term was first used by the German ethnologist Paul Kirchhoff, who noted that similarities existed among the various pre-Columbian cultures within the region that included southern Mexico, Belize, El Salvador, western Honduras, the Pacific lowlands of Nicaragua and northwestern Costa Rica. In the tradition of cultural history, the prevalent archaeological theory of the early to middle 20th century, Kirchhoff defined this zone as a cultural area based on a suite of interrelated cultural similarities brought about by millennia of inter- and intra-regional interaction. Mesoamerica is recognized as a near-prototypical cultural area, the term is now integrated in the standard terminology of pre-Columbian anthropological studies. Conversely, the sister terms Aridoamerica and Oasisamerica, which refer to northern Mexico and the western United States have not entered into widespread usage; some of the significant cultural traits defining the Mesoamerican cultural tradition are: sedentism based on maize agricultu
An earthquake is the shaking of the surface of the Earth, resulting from the sudden release of energy in the Earth's lithosphere that creates seismic waves. Earthquakes can range in size from those that are so weak that they cannot be felt to those violent enough to toss people around and destroy whole cities; the seismicity, or seismic activity, of an area is the frequency and size of earthquakes experienced over a period of time. The word tremor is used for non-earthquake seismic rumbling. At the Earth's surface, earthquakes manifest themselves by shaking and displacing or disrupting the ground; when the epicenter of a large earthquake is located offshore, the seabed may be displaced sufficiently to cause a tsunami. Earthquakes can trigger landslides, volcanic activity. In its most general sense, the word earthquake is used to describe any seismic event—whether natural or caused by humans—that generates seismic waves. Earthquakes are caused by rupture of geological faults, but by other events such as volcanic activity, mine blasts, nuclear tests.
An earthquake's point of initial rupture is called its hypocenter. The epicenter is the point at ground level directly above the hypocenter. Tectonic earthquakes occur anywhere in the earth where there is sufficient stored elastic strain energy to drive fracture propagation along a fault plane; the sides of a fault move past each other smoothly and aseismically only if there are no irregularities or asperities along the fault surface that increase the frictional resistance. Most fault surfaces do have such asperities and this leads to a form of stick-slip behavior. Once the fault has locked, continued relative motion between the plates leads to increasing stress and therefore, stored strain energy in the volume around the fault surface; this continues until the stress has risen sufficiently to break through the asperity allowing sliding over the locked portion of the fault, releasing the stored energy. This energy is released as a combination of radiated elastic strain seismic waves, frictional heating of the fault surface, cracking of the rock, thus causing an earthquake.
This process of gradual build-up of strain and stress punctuated by occasional sudden earthquake failure is referred to as the elastic-rebound theory. It is estimated that only 10 percent or less of an earthquake's total energy is radiated as seismic energy. Most of the earthquake's energy is used to power the earthquake fracture growth or is converted into heat generated by friction. Therefore, earthquakes lower the Earth's available elastic potential energy and raise its temperature, though these changes are negligible compared to the conductive and convective flow of heat out from the Earth's deep interior. There are three main types of fault, all of which may cause an interplate earthquake: normal and strike-slip. Normal and reverse faulting are examples of dip-slip, where the displacement along the fault is in the direction of dip and movement on them involves a vertical component. Normal faults occur in areas where the crust is being extended such as a divergent boundary. Reverse faults occur in areas.
Strike-slip faults are steep structures where the two sides of the fault slip horizontally past each other. Many earthquakes are caused by movement on faults that have components of both dip-slip and strike-slip. Reverse faults those along convergent plate boundaries are associated with the most powerful earthquakes, megathrust earthquakes, including all of those of magnitude 8 or more. Strike-slip faults continental transforms, can produce major earthquakes up to about magnitude 8. Earthquakes associated with normal faults are less than magnitude 7. For every unit increase in magnitude, there is a thirtyfold increase in the energy released. For instance, an earthquake of magnitude 6.0 releases 30 times more energy than a 5.0 magnitude earthquake and a 7.0 magnitude earthquake releases 900 times more energy than a 5.0 magnitude of earthquake. An 8.6 magnitude earthquake releases the same amount of energy as 10,000 atomic bombs like those used in World War II. This is so because the energy released in an earthquake, thus its magnitude, is proportional to the area of the fault that ruptures and the stress drop.
Therefore, the longer the length and the wider the width of the faulted area, the larger the resulting magnitude. The topmost, brittle part of the Earth's crust, the cool slabs of the tectonic plates that are descending down into the hot mantle, are the only parts of our planet which can store elastic energy and release it in fault ruptures. Rocks hotter than about 300 °C flow in response to stress; the maximum observed lengths of ruptures and mapped faults are 1,000 km. Examples are the earthquakes in Chile, 1960; the longest earthquake ruptures on strike-slip faults, like the San Andreas Fault, the North Anatolian Fault in Turkey and the Denali Fault in Alaska, are about half to one third as long as the lengths along subducting plate margins, those along normal faults are shorter. The most important parameter controlling the maximum earthquake magnitude on a fault is however not the maximum available length, but the available width because the latter varies by a factor of 20. Along converging plate margins, the dip angle of the rupture plane is shallow about 10 de
In audio signal processing and acoustics, echo is a reflection of sound that arrives at the listener with a delay after the direct sounds. The delay is directly proportional to the distance of the reflecting surface from the source and the listener. Typical examples are the echo produced by the bottom of a well, by a buildings, or by the wall of an enclosed room and an empty room. A true echo is a single reflection of the sound source; the word echo derives from the Greek ἠχώ, itself from ἦχος, "sound". Echo in the folk story of Greek is a mountain nymph whose ability to speak was cursed, only able to repeat the last words anyone spoke to her; some animals use echo for location navigation, such as cetaceans and bats. Acoustic waves are reflected by other hard surfaces, such as mountains and privacy fences; the reason of reflection may be explained as a discontinuity in the propagation medium. This can be heard when the reflection returns with sufficient magnitude and delay to be perceived distinctly.
When sound, or the echo itself, is reflected multiple times from multiple surfaces, the echo is characterized as a reverberation. The human ear cannot distinguish echo from the original direct sound if the delay is less than 1/10 of a second; the velocity of sound in dry air is 343 m/s at a temperature of 25 °C. Therefore, the reflecting object must be more than 15.7m from the sound source for echo to be perceived by a person located at the source. When a sound produces an echo in two seconds, the reflecting object is 343m away. In nature, canyon walls or rock cliffs facing water are the most common natural settings for hearing echoes; the strength of echo is measured in dB sound pressure level relative to the directly transmitted wave. Echoes may be undesirable. In music performance and recording, electric echo effects have been used since the 1950s; the Echoplex is a tape delay effect, first made in 1959 that recreates the sound of an acoustic echo. Designed by Mike Battle, the Echoplex set a standard for the effect in the 1960s and was used by most of the notable guitar players of the era.
While Echoplexes were used by guitar players, many recording studios used the Echoplex. Beginning in the 1970s, Market built the solid-state Echoplex for Maestro. In the 2000s, most echo effects units use electronic or digital circuitry to recreate the echo effect. Inchindown oil tanks, current record holder for longest echo. Hamilton Mausoleum, South Lanarkshire, Scotland: Its high stone means it takes 15 seconds for the sound of a slammed door to delay. Gol Gumbaz of Bijapur, India: Any whisper, clap or sound gets echoed repeatedly; the Golkonda Fort of Hyderabad, India The Echo Wall at the Temple of Heaven, China The Whispering Gallery of St Paul's Cathedral, England, UK Echo Point, the Three Sisters, Australia The Temple of Kukulcan El Castillo, Chichen Itza, Mexico The Baptistry of Pisa, Italy The echo near Milan visited by Mark Twain in The Innocents Abroad The echo in Chinon, France, used in a traditional local rhyme The gazebo of Napier Museum in Trivandrum, India Light echo More information on Chinon echo.
Listen to Duck echoes and an animated demonstration of how an echo is formed
Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives or stories that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or origin myths. The main characters in myths are gods, demigods or supernatural humans. Stories of everyday human beings, although of leaders of some type, are contained in legends, as opposed to myths. Myths are endorsed by rulers and priests or priestesses, are linked to religion or spirituality. In fact, many societies group their myths and history together, considering myths and legends to be true accounts of their remote past. In particular, creation myths take place in a primordial age when the world had not achieved its form. Other myths explain how a society's customs and taboos were established and sanctified. There is a complex relationship between recital of myths and enactment of rituals; the study of myth began in ancient history. Rival classes of the Greek myths by Euhemerus and Sallustius were developed by the Neoplatonists and revived by Renaissance mythographers.
Today, the study of myth continues in a wide variety of academic fields, including folklore studies and psychology. The term mythology may either refer to the study of myths in general, or a body of myths regarding a particular subject; the academic comparisons of bodies of myth is known as comparative mythology. Since the term myth is used to imply that a story is not objectively true, the identification of a narrative as a myth can be political: many adherents of religions view their religion's stories as true and therefore object to the stories being characterised as myths. Scholars now speak of Christian mythology, Jewish mythology, Islamic mythology, Hindu mythology, so forth. Traditionally, Western scholarship, with its Judaeo-Christian heritage, has viewed narratives in the Abrahamic religions as being the province of theology rather than mythology. Labelling all religious narratives as myths can be thought of as treating different traditions with parity. Definitions of myth to some extent vary by scholar.
Finnish folklorist Lauri Honko offers a cited definition: Myth, a story of the gods, a religious account of the beginning of the world, the creation, fundamental events, the exemplary deeds of the gods as a result of which the world and culture were created together with all parts thereof and given their order, which still obtains. A myth expresses and confirms society's religious values and norms, it provides a pattern of behavior to be imitated, testifies to the efficacy of ritual with its practical ends and establishes the sanctity of cult. Scholars in other fields use the term myth in varied ways. In a broad sense, the word can refer to any traditional story, popular misconception or imaginary entity. However, while myth and other folklore genres may overlap, myth is thought to differ from genres such as legend and folktale in that neither are considered to be sacred narratives; some kinds of folktales, such as fairy stories, are not considered true by anyone, may be seen as distinct from myths for this reason.
Main characters in myths are gods, demigods or supernatural humans, while legends feature humans as their main characters. However, many exceptions or combinations exist, as in the Iliad and Aeneid. Moreover, as stories spread between cultures or as faiths change, myths can come to be considered folktales, their divine characters recast as either as humans or demihumans such as giants and faeries. Conversely and literary material may acquire mythological qualities over time. For example, the Matter of Britain and the Matter of France, seem distantly to originate in historical events of the fifth and eighth-centuries and became mythologised over the following centuries. In colloquial use, the word myth can be used of a collectively held belief that has no basis in fact, or any false story; this usage, pejorative, arose from labeling the religious myths and beliefs of other cultures as incorrect, but it has spread to cover non-religious beliefs as well. However, as used by folklorists and academics in other relevant fields, such as anthropology, the term myth has no implication whether the narrative may be understood as true or otherwise.
In present use, mythology refers to the collected myths of a group of people, but may mean the study of such myths. For example, Greek mythology, Roman mythology and Hittite mythology all describe the body of myths retold among those cultures. Folklorist Alan Dundes defines myth as a sacred narrative that explains how the world and humanity evolved into their present form. Dundes classified a sacred narrative as "a story that serves to define the fundamental worldview of a culture by explaining aspects of the natural world and delineating the psychological and social practices and ideals of a society". Anthropologist Bruce Lincoln defines myth as "ideology in narrative form." The compilation or description of myths is sometimes known as mythography, a term which can be used of a scholarly anthology of myths. Key mythographers in the Classical tradition include Ovid, whose tellings of myths have been profoundingly influential.