Dragon is the common name that refers to a variety of gigantic reptiles reported by people of ancient times. Dragons were also a common theme in mythology. The word comes from the Greek: δράκων, drakōn; Latin: draco; meaning a "serpent of huge size".
Although dragon legends are often dismissed as myth today, many of these stories may have a historical basis in sightings of recent dinosaurs. Numerous dragons have been sighted throughout history in regions such as England, China, Scandinavia, France, India, Egypt, and Arabia. Ancient depictions of dragons have been found that span more than a millennia, which often bear remarkable similarity to known dinosaur species.
There are, in fact, nearly 200 such places in Britain where dragon sightings have been reported throughout history. In his book After the Flood, Bill Cooper lists eighty-one locations in the British Isles alone. Multiple terrestrial, flying, and sea dragons were described by these cultures and known by various names. Many of these creatures were predatory to livestock or threatening to other industries and therefore often target by hunters and killed.
The World Book Encyclopedia states the following about dragons:
|“||The dragons of legend are strangely like actual creatures that have lived in the past. They are much like the great reptiles which inhabited the earth long before man is supposed to have appeared on earth. Dragons were generally evil and destructive. Every country had them in its mythology.||”|
- 1 Historical Accounts
- 2 Biblical Accounts
- 3 Names of Dragons
- 4 Fire breathing
- 5 Dinosaur Extinction
- 6 References
- 7 See Also
- 8 External Links
There are a great many legendary accounts of dragons and their slaying from ancient times. The number and global distribution of these legends precludes any interpretation that the stories are myths. Secular researchers have recently concluded that the "dragon" and "sea serpent" legends in the early Middle Ages were based on real animals.
|“||Real animals--primarily pythons and whales--lie behind the ancient stories. Other animals, conflations of different animals, simple misunderstandings, and willful exaggerations are found to account for the fanciful embellishments, but primitive myths played no significant role in this process during classical times. - (2004) Isis 95(2):220-38.||”|
The Greek historian Herodotus noted these observations during the 5th century BC.
|“||There is a place in Arabia, situated very near the city of Buto, to which I went, on hearing of some winged serpents; and when I arrived there, I saw bones and spines of serpents, in such quantities as it would be impossible to describe. The form of the serpent is like that of the water-snake; but he has wings without feathers, and as like as possible to the wings of a bat.||”|
Alexander the Great
- Main Article: Alexander the Great
In 330 BC, after Alexander the Great invaded India, he brought back reports of seeing a great hissing dragon living in a cave, which people were worshiping as a god. One of Alexander the Great's lieutenants (Onesicritus) stated that the Indian king Abisarus kept serpents that were 120 and 210 feet long. Subsequent Greek rulers are said to have brought dragons back alive from Ethiopia.
Morvidus was king of the Britons from 341 to 336 B.C., as recounted by Geoffrey of Monmouth. He was killed by a dragon or monster that appeared from the Irish Sea and began devouring the inhabitants of the western shores. In an attempt to stop this, Morvidus met the beast in single-combat and used every weapon he could against her, but to no avail. The monster lunged at Morvidus and consumed him. Geoffrey described the animal as a type of dragon called a Belua, which "gulped down the body of Morvidus as a big fish swallows a little one".
In the third century A.D Flavius Philostratus provided this account of dragons in India.
|“||The whole of India is girt with dragons of enormous size; for not only the marshes are full of them, but the mountains as well, and there is not a single ridge without one. Now the marsh kind are sluggish in their habits and are thirty cubits long, and they have no crest standing up on their heads.||”|
- Main Article: Beowulf
Beowulf was a legendary heroic dragon slayer of the Geats who lived from 495–583 AD. His exploits include killing several sea reptiles and a terrestrial dragon called a grendel. Beowulf ultimately lost his life at the age of 88 from wounds he received while fighting a flying reptile that may have been a giant pterosaur. The story of Beowulf is preserved in an epic poem of the same name that is often considered to be one of the most important pieces of Anglo-Saxon literature.
- Main Article: Wawel dragon
The Wawel dragon is a famous dragon in Polish folklore, also known as the Dragon of Kraków. According to the legend it lived in a cave under Wawel Hill in the early 8th century. The cave (which is today a popular tourist attraction) is on the banks of the Vistula river in Kraków, Poland. The dragon is said to have eaten nearby cattle and after many attempts to kill it, the beast was ultimately poisoned with sulfur by a man named Krakus who later became the monarch and namesake for the city.
- Main Article: Saint George
Another famous account of a dragon slaying is the story of Saint George and the Dragon, which was included in Jacobus de Voragine's Legenda Aurea (or Golden Legend), a collection of Saints' lives compiled around the year 1260 and translated into English and published by William Caxton in 1483. Cathedrals have been built in recognition of and named after St. George in Ontario, Canada (1828), Perth, Australia (1888), and London, England (1848). There are also several in the United States. These cathedrals all proudly display a painting or relic somewhere depicting the slaying of the dragon by St. George.
A modern version of the legend says:
|“||At the town of Silene, in Libya, there was a dragon, who was appeased by being fed two sheep a day; when these failed, the townsfolk offered by lot one of their young people. One day the lot fell on the King's daughter, who was led out to the sacrifice, dressed in her wedding gown. George appeared and transfixed the dragon with his spear and then using the Princess's girdle led the bemused dragon into the town, where it was beheaded. — Catholic Encyclopaedia||”|
Marco Polo traveled through Asia, Persia, China, and Indonesia from 1271-1291 AD, and recorded his journey in a work titled The Travels of Marco Polo, which was published in 1300 AD. Much of his book detailed the interesting customs of the different ethnic groups he encountered, as well as the varieties of animals and plants associated with them. In chapter 49, Polo describes a dragons found in a province named Karajan, which is relayed in a matter of fact manner without any embellished mythologizing. He also goes on to explain the behavior of the creature and how the people of the area killed them.
Marco Polo wrote:
|“||Here are found snakes and huge serpents, ten paces in length and ten spans in girth (meaning 50 ft. long and 100 inch circumference). At the fore part, near the head, they have two short legs, each with three claws, as well as eyes larger than a loaf and very glaring. The jaws are wide enough to swallow a man, the teeth are large and sharp, and their whole appearance is so formidable that neither man, nor any kind of animal can approach them without terror. Others are of smaller size, being eight, six, or five paces long. ||”|
St Leonard's Forest
In 1614, a booklet was published describing encounters with a large reptile in St Leonard's Forest in Sussex, near the village known as Dragon's Green (see excerpt below). This booklet contains speculation about their reproduction and supernatural abilities, along with lucid descriptions of a dragon slain in the neighboring Sussex county and numerous references to even more ancient historical sources.
|“||This serpent (or dragon as some call it) is reputed to be nine feete, or rather more, in length, and shaped almost in the form of an axletree of a cart: a quantitie of thickness in the middest, and somewhat smaller at both endes. The former part, which he shootes forth as a necke, is supposed to be an elle [3 ft 9 ins or 1 l4 cms] long; with a white ring, as it were, of scales about it. The scales along his back seem to be blackish, and so much as is discovered under his belie, appeareth to be red... it is likewise discovered to have large feete, but the eye may there be deceived, for some suppose that serpents have no feete ... [The dragon] rids away (as we call it) as fast as a man can run. His food [rabbits] is thought to be; for the most part, in a conie-warren, which he much frequents ...There are likewise upon either side of him discovered two great bunches so big as a large foote-ball, and (as some thinke) will in time grow to wings, but God, I hope, will (to defend the poor people in the neighbourhood) that he shall be destroyed before he grows to fledge. ||”|
Scientific Description 1658
|“|| There be some dragons which have wings and no feet, some again have both feet and wings, and some neither feet nor wings, but are only distinguished from the common sort of Serpents by the comb growing upon their heads, and the beard under their cheeks. Gyllius, Pierius, and Gervinus . . . do affirm that a Dragon is of a black colour, the belly somewhat green, and very beautiful to behold, having a treble row of teeth in their mouths upon every jaw, and with most bright and clear-seeing eyes, which caused the Poets to say in their writings that these dragons are the watchful keepers of Treasures. They have also two dewlaps growing under their chin, and hanging down like a beard, which are of a red colour: their bodies are set all over with very sharp scales, and over their eyes stand certain flexible eyelids. When they gape wide with their mouth, and thrust forth their tongue, their teeth seem very much to resemble the teeth of wild Swine: And their necks have many times gross thick hair growing upon them, much like unto the bristles of a wild Boar.
Their mouth, (especially of the most tamable Dragons) is but little, not much bigger than a pipe, through which they draw in their breath, for they wound not with their mouth, but with their tails, only beating with them when they are angry. But the Indian, Ethiopian, and Phrygian dragons have very wide mouths, through which they often swallow in whole fowls and beasts. Their tongue is cloven as it were double, and the Investigators of nature do say that they have fifteen teeth of a side. The males have combs on their heads, but the females have none, and they are likewise distinguished by their beards. - Historie of Foure-Footed Beasts (1658)
- Main Article: Henham dragon
The Henham dragon is the popular name for a large serpent-like creature (dragon) sighted near Henham, Essex, England in 1669. Henham or Henham-on-the-Hill is a small village with a current population of about 1250. It is located in the north-west part of Essex about seven miles south of the historical town of Saffron Walden where a flying reptile called a cocatrice was killed around the same time. The pamphlet at right was circulated in 1669 in Essex, regarding the recent sightings of a large reptile. Although seen by numerous people, attempts by local villagers to shoot the beast were unsuccessful.
As recent as the early 1900s elderly folk in Glamorgan (a historical county of Wales) would tell of a colony of winged serpents that lived in the woods around Penllin Castle.
|“||The woods around Penllin Castle, Glamorgan, had the reputation of being frequented by winged serpents, and these were the terror of old and young alike. An aged inhabitant of Penllyne, who died a few years ago, said that in his boyhood the winged serpents were described as very beautiful. They were coiled when in repose, and "looked as if they were covered with jewels of all sorts. Some of them had crests sparkling with all the colours of the rainbow". When disturbed they glided swiftly, "sparkling all over," to their hiding places. When angry, they "flew over people's heads, with outspread wings, bright, and sometimes with eyes too, like the feathers in a peacock's tail". He said it was "no old story invented to frighten children", but a real fact. His father and uncle had killed some of them, for they were as bad as foxes for poultry. The old man attributed the extinction of the winged serpents to the fact that they were "terrors in the farmyards and coverts".||”|
"Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook?... Around his teeth there is terror. His strong scales are his pride, Shut up as with a tight seal. One is so near to another, That no air can come between them. They are joined one to another; They clasp each other and cannot be separated. His sneezes flash forth light, And his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning. Out of his mouth go burning torches;...The sword that reaches him cannot avail; Nor the spear, the dart, or the javelin. He regards iron as straw, Bronze as rotten wood. The arrow cannot make him flee; Slingstones are turned into stubble for him." — Job 41:1-34 (NASB)
"In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish Leviathan the piercing serpent, even Leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea." — Isaiah 27:1 (KJV)
"Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength: thou brakest the heads of the dragons in the waters. Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness." — Psalm 74:13-14 (KJV)
"And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him." — Revelation 12:7-9 (NIV)
"Rejoice not thou, whole Palestina, because the rod of him that smote thee is broken: for out of the serpent's root shall come forth a cockatrice, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent." — Isaiah 14:29 (KJV)
"The burden of the beasts of the south: into the land of trouble and anguish, from whence come the young and old lion, the viper and fiery flying serpent, they will carry their riches upon the shoulders of young asses, and their treasures upon the bunches of camels, to a people that shall not profit them." — Isaiah 30:6 (KJV)
"And in that same place there was a great dragon, which they of Babylon worshipped. And the king said unto Daniel, Wilt thou also say that this is of brass? lo, he liveth, he eateth and drinketh; thou canst not say that he is no living god: therefore worship him. Then said Daniel unto the king, I will worship the LORD my God: for he is the living God. But give me leave, O king, and I shall slay this dragon without sword or staff. The king said, I give thee leave. Then Daniel took pitch, and fat, and hair, and did seethe them together, and made lumps thereof: this he put in the dragon's mouth, and so the dragon burst in sunder: and Daniel said, Lo, these are the gods ye worship." — Daniel 14:23-27 (DRA)
Names of Dragons
- Graoully Metz, France
- Gargouille Rouen, France
- Grendel Scandinavia
- Knucker Sussex, England
- Kukulkan Mayan, Central America
- Leviathan Book of Job
- Peluda La Ferté-Bernard, France
- Tarasque Provence, France
- Quetzalcoatl Aztec, Central America
- Main Article: Fire breathing
It is generally assumed that a fire-breathing animal must be fantastical. However, it is possible that one of the dinosaurs possessed such a defense, for example by producing methane or other inflammable gas in its digestive system and expelling it with some means of ignition to produce flame. Since the soft parts involved are unlikely to fossilize, we would not expect to find evidence of them in the rocks. It would be quite easy for evolutionists to invent a scenario for the production of such a system by natural selection (as many other examples have shown), so it would be useless carping for them to claim it was impossible. The Bombardier beetle is an example of such a natural defence on a small scale.
Flying "fire-breathing-dragon" legends may relate to the bioluminescent ropen of Papua New Guinea. Natives on Umboi Island call any glowing embers fire, regardless of whether or not there is any open flame; a few of them have compared the red glow of the ropen's tail to "fire." Other peoples, in other areas of the world, may have interpreted in a similar way the glow of similar creatures, centuries ago: a bioluminescent glow, to them, may have resembled the glow of burning embers. Now, modern living pterosaur investigators believe that the ropen is a Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur.[Reference needed]
- Main Article: Dinosaur extinction
Dinosaurs are a group of large extinct animals classified as reptiles. According to the traditional paleontological interpretations of Earth's history, the dinosaurs are believed to have dominated the ecosystem for more than 100 million years. It is furthermore believed that they went extinct about 65 million years ago, about 55 million years before the first humans appeared on Earth. However, most creationists believe that dinosaurs coexisted with mankind on Earth and lived recently. Creationist theories regarding dinosaur extinction include one of the most relentless causes of animal extinction - mankind.
Humans have a natural instinct to kill any animal that possesses a threatening imposition. Historically, reptiles of any significant size have been automatically and immediately killed when in the proximity of human habitats. Large reptiles the size of dinosaur would certainly be perceived as a threat and hunted-down by humans possessing hunting capabilities. However, historical accounts of dinosaur-sized animals are being dismissed as mythological because these animals are assumed to have gone extinct millions of years ago. We use "Dinosaur" in reference to a group of large reptilian animals as did the term dragon previously. Perhaps the extinct dinosaurs like the Tyrannosaurus survived the flood, but they could not survive mankind.
- Dragons in History by Genesis Park
- Dinosaurs from Anglo-Saxon and other Records Chapter 10, After the Flood by Bill Cooper.
- Knox, Wilson, "Dragon," The World Book Encyclopedia, vol. 5, 1973, p. 265
- Ancient scientific basis of the "great serpent" from historical evidence by R.B. Stothers, Isis. 2004 Jun;95(2):220-38.
- Dinosaurs and dragons: stamping on the legends by Russell Grigg. Creation 7(3):18–19. June 1985
- Herodotus, Historiae, tr. Henry Clay, 1850, pp. 75-76.
- P. Taylor, The Great Dinosaur Mystery, Films for Christ, Mesa, Arizona, 1991.
- Two Supersnake Stories From the Ancient World by John C. Murphy.
- Gould, Charles, Mythical Monsters, W.H. Allen & Co., London, 1886, pp. 382-383.
- Morvidus by Wikipedia
- Flavius Philostratus (c170-c247 A.D.). 1912. The Life of Apollonius of Tyana, volume I, book III. F. C. Conybeare, trans. New York: Macmillan Co., 243-247.
- Beowulf and the Creatures of Denmark Chapter 11, After the Flood by Bill Cooper.
- Beowulf by Wikipedia.
- Travels of Marco Polo by Wikipedia
- Marco Polo’s Dragons by Kyle Butt, M.A., Apologetics Press :: Sensible Science.
- Polo, Marco (1961), The Travels of Marco Polo. New York: Signet Classics, pp. 158-159
- The Dragon Book by Genesis Park.
- R., A. True and Wonderful: A Discourse Relating a Strange and Monstrous Serpent (or Dragon--lately discovered, and yet living, to the great Annoyance and divers Slaughters of both Men and Cattell, by his strong and violent Poison: in Sussex, two Miles from Horsham, in a Woode called St Leonard's Forrest, and thirtie Miles from London, this present month of August 1614. With the true Generation of Serpents. Printed at London : by Iohn Trundle, 1614. (cite. Dinosaurs from Anglo-Saxon and other Records Chapter 10, After the Flood by Bill Cooper.)
- Historie of Foure-Footed Beasts (1658) By: Edward Topsell
- Henham Dragon by Bill Bates
- About Us by Bill Bates
- Trevelyan, M. 1909, Folk-Lore and Folk Stories of Wales, (cite. Dinosaurs from Anglo-Saxon and other Records Chapter 10, After the Flood by Bill Cooper.)
- Gish, Duane T., Dinosaurs by Design. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 1992. p82-83.
- Dragons were dinosaurs Response to Talk.Origins
- Living pterosaur
- Searching for Ropens by Jonathan Whitcomb. California: Bookshelf Press, 2006
- Eyewitnesses to Extinction: Testimonies to the Life and Death of Dinosaurs by Brian Thomas and Frank Sherwin. 2011. Acts & Facts. 40 (6): 16-17.
- Are Dragons Pterosaurs? by Objectiveness.com
- Dragons and Dinosaur by Paul S. Taylor, Eden Communications.
- Dragons; Evidence of Recent Dinosaurs
- The Footprints of Dragons by Lorella Rouster. Creation Social Science & Humanities Society Quarterly Journal. Vol 1(1) p23.
- The History of Four-Footed Beasts and Serpents (1658) by Edward Topsell
- Of Giant Eels by Mike Dash, A Fortean in the Archives.
- Brit Lit
- Olmec dragon