First of all, I laughed a bitter laugh at the last line, and second of all, you’ve underestimated my ability to make everything about art history.
Almost every “discovery” narrative you come across isn’t even internally consistent. I mean, have a gander at what is oft referred to as The Beowulf Manuscript, dating from c. 1075 in England. It also contains a manuscript called “Marvels of the East”, which is about people, landmarks, plants, and animals of the world. It’s also illuminated:
See? People, camels, some other stuff. Here’s a lizard:
Anyhow, what I’m getting at here is that the whole “discovery” narrative is silly, because it hinges on the idea of a totally isolated, racially and culturally
"pure" Europe that supposedly existed in "the past", as in "before discovery!11!!!", and that’s just not true.
I know a lot of joke articles make their way around about the laughable inaccuracy of Medieval European illuminations of “Exotic Animals”, but it has more to do with the art style and cultural factors than “ha ha this person never even saw an animal before”.
I mean, here’s a Medieval (c. 1250s) English Illumination of some people riding an elephant:
And here’s a Japanese painting from c. 1550s of some Europeans riding an elephant:
Basically the point I’m making is, 1. the “Discovery” narrative doesn’t work because the people who lived in the same places as these supposedly “exotic” animals obviously already knew what they were, and 2. the “Discovery” narrative doesn’t work because centuries ago, Europeans often knew what those animals were, too.