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Did Flying Dragons Really Exist?

Flying dragons are creatures of fantasy, or at least that is what most people today think, but one must ask, could they have possibly existed? It is easy to say “NO” without backing the answer up to any degree. Let us talk about facts.

When we look at the old depictions of dragons we see they take different forms but were common in legends across all of Europe and Asia. Most depictions show a four-legged beast, some with wings, some without, we are looking at the winged animals. Their bodies usually are either long and serpent like or more robust. The word dragon itself traces to the ancient word Draco which in Roman times referred to any massive snake such as the python.

When we ask ourselves if these animals actually existed we must look at physical shape. We today know of no mammals, birds, reptiles, or amphibians, with more than four limbs. As such it is highly unlikely that any dragon would have existed having six limbs (four legs and a pair of wings). This assembly of limbs would require a very different skeletal structure than the one most animals operate on. Of course with no skeletal evidence it is impossible to say without certainty that they didn’t not exist in this form, but it is very likely this shape is a total fabrication.

Dragon by wili_hybrid.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/wili/2628869994/

The more likely form flying dragons took, if indeed they did exist, would have been two hind limbs and wings for the front. This is the same build that modern day birds have and ancient Pterosaurs (ancient flying beasts that lived from the late Triassic to the late Cretaceous era) took. The name given to this group of flying dragons is Wyvern.

To say without certainty that Wyvern never really existed is a bit more difficult than saying the other from of dragon did not exist. After all, nobody had a camera or YouTube back in those days. Science has found no evidence that these animals did exist. There are no bones, no teeth, no scales… nothing. Not even teeth or claw marks on castle walls. You would think if such a creature did exist and played such an important role in legend a skeleton would be kept as a prize of a kill.

Castle Hill Dragon - Huddersfield by Ardent Photography.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/don-stewart/2369281599/

A flying dragon would need a place to land, to take off, and to nest. The mountains offered all of these, but food would be tougher to find, assuming they were carnivores. Prey animals, such as deer, could easily hide in the forest to avoid getting snapped up. An animal with a large wing span, as surly a flying dragon would have, could not pursue prey into the woods. This left only two main possibilities. Either flying dragons were fish eaters, scooping fish out of the seas and lakes, or they ate prey that lived out in the open, such as domesticated livestock. Either scenario would put them in positions to be witnessed by people, either fishermen, or farmers. They would have very likely been recognized as dangerous predators and would have been hunted extensively as such, not just by a few brave knights.

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User Comments
  1. ken bultman

    On September 25, 2009 at 7:53 am


    A really great article on which you spent some time preparing. I believe I got it from you first, “No pic, it didn’t happen.” lol.

  2. martie

    On September 25, 2009 at 8:39 am


    sometimes the things in people’s minds are more real that which is in front of their face. Great Article Brenda and very interesting!

  3. Darla Beck

    On September 25, 2009 at 8:53 am


    A very interesting article.

  4. Tlchimes

    On September 25, 2009 at 12:18 pm


    so what about unicorns?

    Great article… you use facts to show why you think as you do…

  5. Ruby Hawk

    On September 25, 2009 at 12:58 pm


    That is one to be left to the imagination. Interesting article.

  6. Sourav

    On September 25, 2009 at 2:12 pm


    All these are imaginations… and good in imagination!

  7. Lostash

    On September 25, 2009 at 7:17 pm


    Oh if only! Nothing to say that a species of Pterosaur may still exist somewhere I suppose….they still find new species all the time, so who knows?

  8. clay hurtubise

    On September 25, 2009 at 10:06 pm


    Obviously you haven’t met my Mother-In-Law!
    Thanks,
    Clay

  9. Daisy Peasblossom

    On September 26, 2009 at 12:49 am


    Even knowing that they are unlikely to have existed, the stories still make good entertainment.

  10. PR Mace

    On September 26, 2009 at 6:17 pm


    Good work and I enjoyed the read. There has to be some fact to any fantasy. I bet they were like the unicorns and were too busy playing to catch a ride on the Ark.

  11. Anne Lyken Garner

    On September 27, 2009 at 11:26 am


    I enjoyed your discussion, PR. It was straightforward and made a lot of sense. It made me think of the comodo dragons. Somehow, picturing those animals (in the Galapagos Islands) with wings is a difficult thing for me to do. Well presented.

  12. Frosty Johnson

    On September 30, 2009 at 5:58 pm


    Good Article, look up the Ropen, theres loads of stuff about it on the net, a Pterosaur that is claimed to still exist, i believe most Dragon legends probably come from ancient people finding Dinosaur bones.

  13. Joe Poniatowski

    On September 30, 2009 at 8:02 pm


    Very interesting. I’m fascinated by examples of similar myths shared among diverse ancient civilizations. Nice work.

  14. Lauren Axelrod

    On December 12, 2009 at 12:10 am


    What a great interpretation.

  15. Ramon

    On October 9, 2011 at 8:07 pm


    Who here sais that u need picture to believe if a flying dragon did exist? Whathehell. Do you believe in god? had u ever seen him? :D i bet you do belive on GOD, but, NO. U’ve never seem him. Just like dinosaus we know there does exist bones from they but none never saw that.

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