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Dragons

September 21, 2010

The Claims:

Dragons are a family of serpentine or reptilian creatures which have been reported to exist since antiquity. They have been purported to have various properties including flight, fire-breathing, shape-shifting, human speech and poison and vary in size from tiny to massive. Some natural disasters and events have been attributed to the powers of Dragons.

The Evidence:

Dragons have been mentioned in writings during ancient times. Dragons are referred to in the Bible as early as the Book of Job. Early Greek writings also mention multiple reptilian and serpentine dragons within their mythology, usually as monsters overcome by heroes. The east and far east have a strong history of Dragon worship.

In antiquity the evidence for Dragons was considered to be very strong as fossilized bones of large reptiles were occasionally discovered. Often the finders would later claim they had slain such a creature and kept these bones as souvenirs.

In modern times, these bones have been recognized as the remains of dinosaurs, real giant reptiles which lived tens of millions of years ago, many of which did fly. As for the claimed dragon sightings, there are numerous anecdotes but no legitimate evidence.

The fact that many ancient cultures developed Dragon stories with similar properties has been claimed by some to be proof that dragons existed at least in antiquity. Some anthropologists have offered an alternate explanation. They propose that humans have an instinctive fear of their predators and the Dragon appear to be a hybrid of many of the predators which preyed upon humans and their ancestors. Dragons were thus an artistic and cultural expression of the instinctive fear in all humans.

Conclusion:

Claims of Dragons in antiquity can be clearly attributed to both the discovery of fossilized dinosaurs and the ability of the human mind to imagine all of their worst fears in a single beast. With the rise of science these fossils have been identified and human fears are no longer embodied in the image of a mythical creature.

Links:

“An Instinct for Dragons” Jones, David E.,  (Routledge, 2002).

6 Comments leave one →
  1. June 15, 2012 7:01 PM

    With a web site that aims at refuting proof of extraordinary claims, you don’t do much research. On early maps of Indonesia, there are often the words “Here There be Dragons” around the Islands of Flores and Komodo. The Island of Timor nearby had an even larger dron living on it in the Pleistocene and even possibly the Holocene. Likewise the biggest varanid lived on Australia and definitely came in contact with the first human arrivals. In australia there was also a giant constricting snake that is described perfectly in their oral traditions as Wanambi.
    The general reason why given for omitting these animals as sources of the dragon myth are due to distances from Europe and China, but now we know that 50% of humans have been influenced genetically by a people from south east asia who carried a new mutation of one of the macrocephalin genes, and that they are associated with the spread of agriculture. This people is especially associated with Ind0-Europeans..and ancient Sumer has been proven to have been influenced by both their cranial types (Australoid) and their language (Austric).
    Sorry, man…the wings were made up much later but the dragons were real.

  2. Barbara permalink
    January 1, 2012 9:09 PM

    Dragons are coming back with the popularity of Skyrim. If Skyrim isn’t real life, I don’t want to live….. Actually, it appears I don’t want to live.

  3. Gideon Butler permalink
    August 30, 2011 1:12 AM

    @ Erik Walker
    None of this is fantastical story-telling. The explanations offered are based on the available evidence, and even if it may not be the correct explanation, rational, logical thinking like this often yields an enlightening perspective on the nature of life and its past.
    Thank you for your compliment on my imagination. I enjoy having one; creativity and new ideas can only come from the imagination.

    And your quotes…
    I fully agree with the first one, and fail to see how being skeptical is anything but a good thing.
    Note the words “sometimes” and “may” in your second quote there. They imply that the author is not conclusively claiming his point, and that the confidence is not misplaced in every instance.
    I agree with the third quote. I believe that there is a logical explanation for everything in the universe even if we don’t know what it is.
    Your fourth quote was written in 1929. The body of evidence for evolution has increased so dramatically since then (see DNA, etc.) that that quote is rendered meaningless. In fact, evolution today is universally accepted precisely because there is so much evidence for it and absolutely no empirical evidence for anything else.

    Erik, the whole point of science is that we deduce explanations based off of evidence that is acquired by skeptical, imaginative, logical people and the empirical and reproducible experiments they perform. Evolution isn’t fantasy. If there is a different correct explanation for the origin of species, then nothing we can observe indicates so and that explanation is therefore useless to us now.

  4. Jeff permalink
    March 3, 2011 2:26 PM

    Two words: Ancient Aliens

  5. Brian Ritter permalink
    December 12, 2010 2:06 PM

    Dragons – really? Unless it’s a comodo dragon or some other lizard, you belong in a mental institution.

  6. December 7, 2010 8:21 PM

    OP:” Some anthropologists have offered an alternate explanation. ”

    I.e., more fantastical storytelling.

    You evolutionists sure are good at using your imagination. You should write children’s books. Oh, wait…you already do.

    “‘Growing up, in the fullest sense of the word, should include the cultivation of a healthy scepticism’ (p. 142),
    ‘Nevertheless, the confidence with which scientists sometimes state how much we know and how useful science can be, may spill over into arrogance’ (p. 30).
    ~ Richard Dawkins, Unweaving the Rainbow

    “There will be times when it is hard to think of what the gradual intermediates may have been. These will be challenges to our ingenuity, but if our ingenuity fails, so much the worse for our ingenuity.
    ~ Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden

    “evolution [is] a theory universally accepted not because it can be proven by logically coherent evidence to be true, but because the only alternative, special creation, is clearly incredible” (Adaptation, Nature 124:233, 1929)
    ~Professor D.M.S. Watson

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