Dragons have a myriad history in myths worldwide. They play a major role in Chinese mythology, and appear in tales of European Dark Age knights. Over the last several years, the creatures of legend have had a resurgence of popularity, evident in fictional works like A Song of Ice and Fire and Dragons, A Fantasy Made Real, a Discovery channel special on the theoretical biology and behavior of the creatures had they been real. The film points out the theory that some creationists believe; that Dragons may have really existed at one point.
In ancient times, people had no notion of dinosaurs. Archaeologists theorize that the combination of an ignorance of prehistoric animals with the discovery of massive animal bones might have convinced observers in early civilizations that they were the bones of dragons. In fact, prior to the establishment of what would be considered modern paleontology, the words dragon and dinosaur were used interchangeably. The only real dragon that survives is the Komodo dragon, a species that fits with the broadest descriptions of the mythic beasts: they are large, leathery, with spit that burns. Outside of the genus Draco and several other kinds of lizard all dwarfed by the Komodo, dragons have become purely mythic.
Today, they feature prominently in the hugely successful Game of Thrones show. In the books that make up the Song of Ice and Fire series on which the show is based, the creatures were thought extinct. The discovery and subsequent hatching of three dragon eggs is used as a device to create suspense. Their growth from small creatures that can fit on a girl’s shoulders into beasts that require chains as wide as a man’s fist serves much like the coming of winter as promise of further plot climax.
Some have pointed to books outside of fantasy novels for proof. At least one person does believe that the creatures actually existed at one point, and not as another interpretation of dinosaurs. Dragons or Dinosaurs by Creationist Darek Isaacs is a description of his belief that dragons really lived thousands of years ago. He claims on video that dragons are mentioned in the book of Revelations, and because he believes the Bible contains no errors they must be real and are now extinct. He also believes dragons and humans shared the planet, which explains depictions of interactions between dragons and people that most other people consider myth or legend. Another vocal representative of this theory, president of the Creation Museum and the US chapter of Answers in Genesis, Ken Ham even claimed that dinosaurs were preserved on Noah’s Ark. In addition, the description of Leviathan in Job chapter 41 bears marked similarity to a general description of dragons of legend. Verses 15- 21 describe the scales, glowing eyes, smoking nostrils and fiery mouth that echo dragon descriptions in fantasy stories.
The opinion of the scientific community runs opposite those of Ham and Isaacs. It has been said that biblical inerrancy is impossible since there have been so many different versions of the Bible over the centuries. Scientists point to carbon dated core samples and fossil records to disprove creationist beliefs about the earth’s age, let alone the existence of real dragons. Still, the thousands of dragon focused websites, books and games indicate mankind’s fascination with, if not the belief in the creatures persists.
By Aliya Tyus-Barnwell