Were Dragons Real?

Lassi Kurkijarvi/CC-BY-2.0

It remains general consensus that dragons were never real. There is a significant lack of evidence to support the existence of dragons, which lends to the justification of the widely held belief they are a myth. The efforts of the academic community are more readily put into understanding why people believed dragons existed.

The most popular theory of the origin of the dragon myth is that dinosaur fossils were interpreted as dragon remains. The physical similarities between dinosaur bones and the historical depictions of dragons give credence to the belief. It is also suspected that the discovery of whale bones, due to their size and a lack of understanding of whales themselves, was also connected to the existence of dragons. The Nile crocodile bears a resemblance to dragon depictions, especially for Europeans unfamiliar with the region and its indigenous species, which would contribute to the belief in the existence of a large, lizard-like predator, such as a dragon. In ancient times, crocodiles could sometimes be found in Southern Europe by crossing the Mediterranean.

Dragons existed in the folklore of many cultures from Europe to Asia. They occurred in Greek, Christian, Slavic and Chinese mythologies. Each of these cultures depicted them differently, ranging from the malevolent winged lizards of European portrayal to the serpentine figure of Chinese folklore.