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