Friday, August 24, 2012

Dragons between myth and reality

Few years back, I watched a fictional documentary, Dragon's World: A Fantasy Made Real. The documentary was made on the evolution of dragons, explaining how it would be scientifically possible or not for them to actually exist. This film, in fact, caused confusion in people who called it a documentary with actual facts by Discovery Channel. Even, my neighbor’s kid started believing that dragons are real and took years to get convinced that it was just a movie. 

Many ancient cultures, from China to Greece, America to Australia, told tales of dragons. There were American tribes who had stories of fire breathing reptiles, burning fields and flying away with buffalo. Surprisingly, many of these societies had no contact with each other. So, did they really exist? Most experts argue that legends of dragons took birth when human’s common psychological fears of reptiles, claws, size and fire in combination started taking shape of a fictional creature. But does this opinion takes all away from us who have a lot to talk about the existence of Dragons? 

dragon art
Hatching from eggs, Dragons were said to breathe fire or to be poisonous with a variable number of legs: none, two, four, or more in diffident mythological literature. Western dragons are usually portrayed as evil, mean, and bloodthirsty. According to legends, the end of the dragon came with Christianity when nearly every dragon was destroyed in a very short time by knights. In East Asian culture, Dragons were said to be kind and wiser than humans. According to an ancient creation myth, the people of Vietnam are descended from a dragon and a fairy. To Vietnamese people, the dragon brings rain existence and growth. In Chinese mythology, dragons are known to protect the places of the Gods. Some believe that dragons of mythology were actually dinosaurs and that they died out with other creatures at the end of the ice age. 

Now, let's analyse the mythologies and take out some facts. All of the Oriental dragons were intimately associated with water as they lived in lakes, rivers and seas, even in raindrops. Australian monitor lizards, Varanus Bitatawa has many similarities with dragons in terms of shape, elongated neck, semi-erect posture, and a forked tongue, which can give the effect of fire-breathing. Komodo Dragons of Indonesia, the world’s largest lizards alive might have inspired the myth of Dragon. Megalania, a lizard from Australia, which went extinct 19,000 years ago could grow to seven meters in length and weighed 600 Kg. These lizards might have been descendant or related to dragons. 

If there is no scientific evidence that dragons ever existed, then what might have possibly triggered the first concept of Dragon, which existed in almost every cultures, settings, and mythology. Perhaps, dragon’s presence in every culture of the world is much more than a coincidence. Maybe someday, we will figure out whether dragons were rooted in reality or not. Till then, dragons are reserved for sharing space with unicorns and mermaids in our wild imaginations.


Vipul Gupta said...

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Anonymous said...

gr8 research and gr8 writing :)


m j murcott said...

Are there any scientific reasons as to how dragons could have existed and yet no physical evidence remained behind? -

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