Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday's Myths--Dragons

I know, I know, I'm a day late, but yesterday was particularly hectic. I'm in the middle of potty training my two year old and let me tell you, it's not fun.

So we touched upon the history of the dragon last Wednesday. There's a lot of evidence the world over to indicate that dragons were once living, breathing creatures that actually caused problems for the local populace. Sure, myth has elevated these animals to magical beings capable of shapeshifting, telepathy, etc., but word-of-mouth stories tend to do that. If we were to believe every tall tale, we would have to accept the fact that there really are mice four feet tall with foam dripping at the mouth, and any man that came home from a fishing trip empty-handed only did so because the big one, with a mind as sharp as any human's, got away.

Not likely.

In the cave painting to the right, a fire-breathing creature is depicted. It doesn't take too much imagination to see that this is probably a dragon. Though it is depicted without wings, this isn't uncommon. The Drake is a particular dragon that is represented this way, as well as the Chinese variety.

Some of the oldest tales in the world talk about brave men going out to fight the local dragon, depending upon the culture. In many eastern cultures, the dragon was (and still is) revered as a noble creature, worthy of worship. This isn't uncommon as well. There are cultures and religions today that revere the cow in much the same way.

It would be silly to think that all dragons were the same, and therefore dangerous. It could have possibly been the case that many were rather docile and offered a bit of protection to a local town from the more vicious variety, as well as other smaller predators. In fact, there are some tales that speak of certain dragons as herbivores and rather friendly.

However, we are typically more familiar with the ones that are hunted and killed by the local heroes. In this mosaic, a group of Ethiopian warriors are shown hunting a rather familiar-looking creature. No, this animal does not look like most representations of the dragon, but it is very likely that the dragon was in actuality a group of animals that we are very familiar with--dinosaurs.
Many paleontologists do concur that the similarities between dinosaurs and dragons are too close to ignore. The theory is that ancient man found the fossilized remains of these creatures and wove tales accordingly. But, their knowledge of the hard scales and other characteristics that would have been impossible to derive from just the fossils, indicates differently.

As mentioned last week, scholars have found official palace records in China of a royal dragon keeper. Why would the emperor assign such a position if this animal were not real? And why would Marco Polo claim to have seen the emperor pulled along by dragons? Any paleontologist knows that if you want to find dinosaur remains, you go to China.

Think of this, tales of dragons have been told since the beginning of civilization, but the term dinosaur was only coined in 1841.


Although, I was late for this particular post, I promise that tomorrow's post will be on time. Don't forget to check in!

~Emily White


  1. Very informative and interesting. Thanks for the post.

  2. Yes, I love researching this stuff!

  3. From where did you gather your research? This is really interesting.


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