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Dragons are legendary creatures that resemble over-sized lizards, snakes, or crocodiles, but with occasional extra limbs,[note 1] and the ability to fly, and are thought to have other special powers such as the ability to breathe fire. In essence, they are a catch-and-all term rarely used by actual anthropologists anymore as it describes a variety of entities unrelated aside from having scales; this ranges from the demonic western dragons to the asian lion-camel-clam-carp-gods (also known as lung) to the various mutant-chickens of the Mesoamericans.
Evidence of dragons' existence has never surfaced[citation NOT needed] except in mythology, legend, fantasy novels, role-playing games, and the imaginations of some cryptozoologists, but there exists a subculture which believes in them. There is also a subculture who thinks they are dragons or identifies with them in a similar manner as furry fandom. There is a rather larger subculture which knows they do not exist but deeply wishes they did.
The seemingly worldwide nature of dragon myths has led some people to engage in some truly bizarre speculation about the origins of humanity, or about "species memory" and such like. Some animals and plants have been named after the dragon, like the leafy sea dragon, dragonfly, komodo dragon, snapdragon, and Dracaena.
Some young Earth creationists have claimed that the existence of dragons in various human mythologies is evidence for humans and dinosaurs co-existing. Using the same reasoning, they presumably also believe in fairies and trolls. Saner heads, most notably historian Adrienne Mayor, have proposed a more sensible hypothesis on the dinosaur-dragon connection, namely that dragons and other legendary creatures might have been inspired by the fossil remains of prehistoric animals.. Misidentification of extant animal remains by ancient peoples is also a likely source of cryptids, such as the conflation of elephant skulls with the Cyclops of Greek mythology.
More dubiously, others claim their origin is on ancient fears by our hominid ancestors of predators as great cats, snakes, and large raptor birds that became hard-wired in our brain.
Villagers in modern day Henan province in China have been grinding "dragon" (AKA dinosaur) fossils for use in traditional Chinese medicine. The bones have been ground up into tea for decades, a practice recorded to have occurred with ancient peoples across the world. When asked why so many Chinese still believe in dragons, China's premier dinosaur hunter responded: How many Americans still don't believe in evolution?
Want to read this in another language?
- See the Wikipedia article on dragons.
- Bad Friends - "Dragons": a video that dares to ask the question "do dragons like pickles?" (There seems to be an appropriate metaphor here.)
- Normal lizards have four limbs — they are tetrapods. Some dragons, like the one on the Welsh flag to the right, have four limbs plus two wings, making six limbs. Other dragons may have only four (i.e. wyverns have two legs and two wings; Chinese dragons and their variants have no wings and usually four legs) or even fewer than that (i.e. the Greek cetus or the Lindworm).
- WND.com YEC believes a spitting beetle is evidence that dragons were real. Ignore here that the earliest depictions of dragons were snake-like and did not look at all as the most popular four legs and two wings, nor as a dinosaur.
- Mayor, A. (2000). The First Fossil Hunters — ISBN 0-691-08977-9
- Hillary Mayall, "Cyclops Myth Spurred by 'One-Eyed' Fossils?" National Geographic News, February 5, 2003
- Kevin Holden Platt, "Dinosaur Fossils Part of Longtime Chinese Tonic", National Geographic News, July 13, 2007