Mystical or Mythical? – The Tale of the Dragon

All around the world, different cultures have their own stories. The werewolf, the mermaids and sirens and of course…big foot.

However, there is one myth that has remained consistent throughout the world. Stories deriving from a whole host of cultures, creating rumours that have echoed over this earth: the legend of the dragon.

There are many reasons that people would dismiss the possibility of a fire breathing creation, especially if the creature is also a giant lizard. But what if the dragon could exist?

The dragon could have come into existence in the same way as the dinosaurs, descended from lizards and one of the oldest living creatures, the crocodile (who would share a common ancestor). The back wash from the flames would undoubtedly scorch the throat of any living creature, so a defence against this would be of the upmost importance. The dragon could have a flap at the back of the throat that would close when the fire had been released, much like the adaptation found in crocodiles to stop the lungs from flooding whilst holding prey underwater. Not only would this prevent the burns from the severe flames, but it would also stop the inhaling of the excess carbon dioxide produced by the act of combustion.

There are many gasses produced when a living being eats. Two of these gasses are methane and hydrogen, both of which are lighter than air. If the dragons had an extra pair of lungs that could flood with these gasses, this would contribute to their buoyancy when flying. However these are highly flammable when mixed with a particular mineral – and it is this mineral that has been found in rocks and boulders all across the earth.

The dragon, if it did exist, would have done so at the time of the dinosaurs, well beyond the time of any human, and would have most likely encountered the same fate as these unfortunate beasts. How is it that we know this? Again similar to crocodiles, the dragon may have taken to the water, thus avoiding the turmoil of the world above. After a time, when the climate of the land had settled down a little, it could resurface, and adapt to live once more on the land we call home.

This land would of course include all the different environments and landscapes we know today, and thus the dragons of all cultures were born. The forests of China would reduce the need for wings, thus, the Chinese dragon has never been portrayed with them. The Welsh dragon is huge, with great wings and claws, suited only too well to the green open spreads of the welsh landscape.

The legend of the dragon is one that has baffled scientists, enchanted children and adults for millenniums – not to mention given inspiration for many an excellent novel (may I take this moment to recommend the book “Eragon”)! But is it really that much of a myth? Think of all the wonders of the world.

Is the legend of the dragon really so unbelievable?

By Maddie Jones

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