Shrouded in mystery for eons, the fire-breathing, majestic beasts called dragons are often dismissed as fantasy. These mythical creatures–with their reptilian skin, giant wings, sharp claws and, of course, the fire-breath–have been brought to life through games, books and movies.
The legendary dragon has donned different roles giving wings to our imagination. Sometimes it plays a misunderstood ‘monster’ that actually makes a great pet. At other times, it loves gold and steals it from the dwarfs. More often than not, it guards a princess. But aside from fiction, it has never been sighted. And there isn’t enough data to prove its existence.
So where did this magnificent beast come from? Let’s take a look.
One major theory suggests that dragons were born out of ignorance.
The birth of the myth
The dragon made its first appearance in Greek and Roman mythologies, getting its name from ancient Greek Drakon. Babylonians and Egyptians had their own tales of the beast. These were soon followed by the Bible in which the dragon was linked to the Satan–depicting destruction, turmoil and chaos. Native American rock art also had engravings or petroglyphs of creatures that resemble the dragon. The vibrant Chinese banners have paintings of huge serpent-like creatures with four legs-their version of the legendary beast.
But a question begs to be asked. How did cultures across the globe come up with the same description of a creature that apparently never existed?
Fact or fiction?
One major theory suggests that dragons were born out of ignorance. People in ancient times may have confused dragons with dinosaurs. Perhaps, the unearthed dinosaur fossils were thought to be the remains of dragons. However, this theory continues to be challenged by the discovery of the Draco Volans (a carnivore that lays eggs and can glide) in Indonesia. This species of lizard that bears an uncanny resemblance to dragons has hinted at the evolution of this mysterious being. A cryptozoologist and an expert on dragons, Dr Karl Shuker, explores the likely origins of dragons in his book Dragons: A Natural History.
Till science comes up with more data, we will just have to keep our peace watching Drogon play hide-and-seek with the mother of dragons, Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones.