The (Un)Common knowledge - The Truth about Dragons
If you are a fantasy lover like myself, you will have come across certain themes and legends across the world. Every culture is different, with mythical creatures specific to their beliefs, yet there is one that stands out about the rest.
Can you guess which it is?
One type of legendary creature that can be found in almost every continent across the world, from Asia to Europe and down through Central America, is Dragons.
But Dragons aren't real...
Now, of course, everyone knows that Dragons aren't real. And yet stories of them show up across the world. They are depicted in ancient drawings. They are revered by old civilizations that are located half the world away from each other.
Granted, the depiction of them varies from culture to culture.
Well, why would they all look different if Dragons are just make-believe?
In Japan, they are the sleek serpentine Dragons, with tiny arms and legs, said to bring on the rains or influence the elements. The Dragons were often associated with luck and fortune; whether good or bad depended on the legends.
In Europe, they were deemed to look quite different, taking on the look of large, winged, scaly, horned, lizard-like creatures who breathed fire.
They were also seen as greedy and evil beasts. Stories of Dragons destroying castles to steal the treasure or making off with a pretty damsel all stream from this viewpoint. Knights in shining armor rose from legends to defeat these wayward monsters.
In Mexico, the Dragons were depicted as more serpentine like the Asian Dragon yet covered in feathers, giving them the ability to fly without the great wings of the European Dragons. The famous Aztec Dragon was seen as a deity within their legends.
How could the Dragon legends be so different? Where did these ideas even stem from?
In the days of old, they would occasionally unearth giant bones. And what else could such bones belong to than the great Dragons of myth?
At the time of these discoveries, there was no notion of dinosaurs, yet their remains are what stemmed these epic legends into being.
Dinosaurs being mistaken for Dragons? No way.
Now we think these ancient civilizations fanciful for not understanding what the bones truly were. We disregard the notion that Dragons ever existed because we have proven they aren't Dragons, not at all. They're dinosaurs.
It's fascinating the science behind dinosaur bones. How we can recreate what we think they looked like, much as the ancient European, Asian, and Hispanic cultures did in regards to their Dragons.
We can look at a rendition of a T-rex and think, oh, there's no way that could've ever been a Dragon.
Yet as we study the bones now, so too these ancient civilizations studied them, doing their best to piece together the mysteries as we do.
Now with technological advancements, we can guess what the dinosaurs ate, how they lived, how they adapted to their surroundings.
Is that so different from the legends that bore Dragons to life? I don't believe so.
Creating legends from bones.
Think of our current culture, how many books and movies you have seen centering around dinosaurs. Children learn about them before they even go to school. We have created TV shows and pop-up books to teach our future generations all about the dinosaurs.
Is that so different from the ancient cultures weaving stories and spreading them through their town and villages, passing them on from one generation to another?
Dragons being mistaken for dinosaurs might not seem all that farfetched once you start looking at the similarities.
But did you know that the Dragons aren't the only mythological creatures to stem from misdiagnosed fossils?
There are more?
There are undoubtedly many more myths that sprang to life from the same concept.
Griffins stemmed from the same idea. Multiple bones found in a close-range area were rearranged to depict a half-bird, half-lion creature.
Elephant skulls were mistaken to be proof of giants and cyclopses.
Fossilized shark teeth have been attributed to belonging to goblins.
Unicorns were dreamed into existence by finding remains of narwhal whales.
Fossilized ammonites ( the spiral creatures you see depicted in stones) were the source for legends of giant snakes.
Sea serpents were breathed to life from partially decayed sharks, deformed snakes, and seaweed. And mermaids by finding human remains mixed with all sorts of sea creatures.
Wow, who knew?
Some of the greatest legends told the world over were created from misdiagnosed discoveries. Without these ancient people trying to solve the mysteries of the world around them, where would we be?
Can you imagine?
We think of cult classic movies depicting dinosaurs and think where would we be without movies like Jurassic Park?
But ask yourself, where would we be without Game of Thrones and the Dragons?
Where would we be without The Little Mermaid?
Some of our favorite books, movies, music, and art all stemmed from the ideas that these fantastical creatures once existed. I, for one, am grateful for the misunderstanding of these ancient artifacts. Without them, can you imagine what a dull world we would live in?