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Why do we invent monsters?

21 March 2013 Last updated at 11:34 GMT

Why are there so many stories about monsters? From dragons to vampires and aliens, we have always told stories about scary mythical creatures. A new book out today investigates the science behind monsters, and how, and why, we believe them.

It's called Medusa's Gaze and Vampire's Bite - the science of monsters and its author Matt Kaplan is a science journalist who believes that we invent creatures like fire breathing dragons for a reason.

The Today programme's Sarah Montague spoke to him and to Dr Jacqueline Simpson, President of the Folklore Society, and began by asking Matt whether monsters serve a valuable purpose.

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Thursday 21 March 2013.