So a couple weeks ago (I know, I’m a terrible person!) you voted to hear about dragons. After waiting so very long, I’ve done the research, and here is the article!
Unless you’re talking about the rather unimpressive looking komodo, dragons are legendary creatures, though I really wish they were real, just not all fire breathing on my house and such. There are two different types of dragons that we imagine when we think of dragons. There’s the European dragon, which we can envision when we see Khaleesi and her clutch, and the Chinese dragons that we can ride on when we play World of Warcraft! (I never got my flying for the dragon before I stopped playing. How sad!)
Dragons are four legged creatures with bat-like wings and typically a horn on their snout. While they have wings, they tend to stay in underground lairs where they can protect their treasures. For this reason, they’ve come to be known as an ancient being of the earth.
Dragons can breathe fire, though some books like Dragonlance have them able to breathe other things like ice and poison and such. It’s important to note that dragons have four legs. Why is this important? Because there’s another, smaller creature known as the wyvern who appears much the same as a dragons. One major difference (other than height) is the fact that wyverns don’t have four legs. They have two legs that they stand on and a set of arms that extend along their wings like a pterodactyl.
In Chinese myth and legend, dragons are magical beings that are typically friendly and they control things like wind, water, and even able to bestow good luck upon people. In European mythology, dragons are also magical, but their magic tends to come from their blood.
HOW DID THE LEGEND COME ABOUT?
Dragons seem to be everywhere we turn these days, and there really aren’t a lot of people who don’t like them! But where do they come from? If you believe the Ancient Aliens train of thought, dragons could be explained away as starships of ancient astronauts come to visit our little blue planet.
But I’m sure there’s a better explanation than that. Something we have to remember about ancient civilizations was their fear of the unknown. Something rare could take on mystical overtones rather easily. Flukes of nature were deemed supernatural, or messages from beyond the grave. But I feel all myths have to have some kind of origin. People have to have a basis for a story, no matter how fantastical it is. So, where did dragons come from? I hit the internet to find out.
FOSSILS OF DRAGONS? One idea I stumbled over on the Smithsonian website said that ancient humans may have came across the unearthed bones of dinosaurs, or maybe even the washed up remains of whales. This idea is one I’ve heard before, and it makes the most sense to me. If you didn’t know anything about either of these creatures it would be easy to see them as large predators that you’d have to watch out for. Given the time we are talking about, they obviously wouldn’t know that what they’d unearthed had been extinct for some time, or that the whales live in the water. Of course, seeing whales as dragons could explain the different types of dragons you see in so many myths.
ANIMALS AS DRAGONS. Following the same idea that ancient humans could have seen whales as dragons, we also have to look at the different kinds of animals they may have run across back then. The Smithsonian website touches base on the human mind and how we are engineered to fear as a survival instinct. Dragons are very lizard like, so then we would look at the kinds of animals that could be mistaken as dragons, and we see crocodiles, goanna, and other serpents. It isn’t hard to imagine this is where we got the variety of dragons (such as water, fire, venomous) from their habitats and their coloration.
INNER DEMONS AS DRAGONS. Just like the elephant in the room, dragons could possibly not even have been viewed as something real at all. Instead, when we look at the stories of brave adventurers or Godly saints battling Satan, it could be seen less as a physical adversary and more as a momentous inner struggle they are facing. This inner struggle could easily be seen as a fire breathing winged serpent that is harder than hell to overcome.
So what do you think? Where do you think the myths and legends of dragons come from? I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments below!