Dragons: Evidence They Existed

AlchoPwn

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Dragons do not exist, never have and neither do fairies, or goblins.
Wish it was otherwise... comprehensively, simply isn't...
By heavens I wish you were correct. I have seen a pixie IRL. It is my one and only supernatural encounter. I was lucky enough to see through one of their numbers' "glamorflage". I promise you that I saw this, though I can't promise that what I saw wasn't subject to me having some sort of mental break, because I saw a pixie FFS. Why couldn't I have seen a ghost or an alien? They're much less embarrassing.
 

PeteByrdie

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By heavens I wish you were correct. I have seen a pixie IRL. It is my one and only supernatural encounter. I was lucky enough to see through one of their numbers' "glamorflage". I promise you that I saw this, though I can't promise that what I saw wasn't subject to me having some sort of mental break, because I saw a pixie FFS. Why couldn't I have seen a ghost or an alien? They're much less embarrassing.
I love 'glamorflage', I don't know if you originated it but it's a great portmanteau.
 

lordmongrove

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The Wyvern strikes me as a far more plausible creature, as no vertebrate AFAIK has ever possessed six limbs (although obviously the draco volans has 4 limbs and a wing-like skin spread across its extended ribs).
The dragons wings may not be limbs as we think of them but extended ribs as you mentioned in the Indoneasian lizard, the flying dragon, for fin like structures like the frill of a frilled lizard but running down the animals' sides.
 

lordmongrove

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And..


Lordmongrove: Superficial resemblance is not the same as being identical with. The goblin is a small humanoid to which legends attribute a number of characteristics. H floriensis was a small humanoid but there is no reason to suspect that it had any of the other defining characteristics of a goblin. Similarly with PeteByrdie's examples.

Goblins and dragons could be described as known things, described as larger or smaller than the originals, and with added features from other sources.

I could describe a creature that was black and white striped, huge, with a trunk, and with a long mane. Pointing to those features on zebras, elephants and lions would not suggest that my creature existed. It would only highlight the paucity of my imagination.

Not addressing your points but making my own:
It is of course plausible — likely, even — that the crocodile was one of many inspirations for dragon myths. It would be unjustifiable reductionist to say that the dragon was a poorly described crocodile. There would certainly no basis for taking the argument a step further and saying that stories of dragons are evidence of a recently extant species of super crocodile.

If you look at pictures of Egyptian gods, you will see humanoids with the heads of dogs, cats and hawks. I can find you humans, dogs, cats, and hawks, but that is not evidence that those gods were based on actual creatures that had animal heads on human bodies.



Ooh! Define anything broadly enough, and the definition ceases to be meaningful.
The ebu-gogo was said to steal human children, attack livestock, steal crops and generally be a pain in the arse to the Nage people. It did all the things European goblins were supposed to do. It was not called a goblin because the language was different. I'm not saying that the Homo floresiensis is behind European goblin lore just it would have been called a goblin by a European if they had encountered one.
 

PeteByrdie

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The ebu-gogo was said to steal human children, attack livestock, steal crops and generally be a pain in the arse to the Nage people. It did all the things European goblins were supposed to do. It was not called a goblin because the language was different. I'm not saying that the Homo floresiensis is behind European goblin lore just it would have been called a goblin by a European if they had encountered one.
But so far as it concerns the question of whether diminutive evil spirits were inhabiting rural medieval Europe, we can say H. floresiensis an ebu-gogo has little bearing. So, while that doesn't prove the non-existence of such spirits, it certainly doesn't mean they exist.

You are wrong, both did.
The dragons wings may not be limbs as we think of them but extended ribs as you mentioned in the Indoneasian lizard, the flying dragon, for fin like structures like the frill of a frilled lizard but running down the animals' sides.
We can theorise about what characteristics dragons may have had if they existed, but what evidence is there that a species of four limbed, seemingly winged reptile actually existed, and inspired European dragon mythology? And, more to the point, are you able to point us to it, rather than just telling us about it?

EDIT: I think I said previously in this thread that, as far as I can tell, the fire-breathing quality of European dragons is a recent development, and that they're most often described as incredibly venomous. I've since found several images of dragons breathing fire dating to at least the 13th century, so I'll retract that. However, I suspect it's a quality inherited from classical fire breathers such as the chimera or Aeete's bulls rather than from any ostensibly draconic progenitor.
 
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lordmongrove

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But so far as it concerns the question of whether diminutive evil spirits were inhabiting rural medieval Europe, we can say H. floresiensis an ebu-gogo has little bearing. So, while that doesn't prove the non-existence of such spirits, it certainly doesn't mean they exist.



We can theorise about what characteristics dragons may have had if they existed, but what evidence is there that a species of four limbed, seemingly winged reptile actually existed, and inspired European dragon mythology? And, more to the point, are you able to point us to it, rather than just telling us about it?

EDIT: I think I said previously in this thread that, as far as I can tell, the fire-breathing quality of European dragons is a recent development, and that they're most often described as incredibly venomous. I've since found several images of dragons breathing fire dating to at least the 13th century, so I'll retract that. However, I suspect it's a quality inherited from classical fire breathers such as the chimera or Aeete's bulls rather than from any ostensibly draconic progenitor.
The mushussu of Babylon is depicted as a four footed, winged beast way before European depictions. It is shown Dragons in China have been depicted as four footed, two winged beasts at least as far back as 200BC.
 

lordmongrove

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The fire may have been a burning venom in the earliest accounts. The god like dragons of antiquity were associsated with the element of water.
 

lordmongrove

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My example of the ebu-gogo was meant to illustrate that legends of small, man-like but none human creatures are sometimes based in truth. Om a larger scale the same could be said of trolls. Lars Thomas of Copenhagen University was researching an ancient Danish king. The king loved to hunt and there are accounts of his favourite quarry, trolls. The descriptions are of strong, man-like, hair covered creatures with thick brows. The females had pendulous breasts. They had no fire but could lift and hurl rocks that no human could. The descriptions matched up with the modern eye-witness accounts of the almasty in the Caucasus whom i had been interviewing at the same time Lars was doing his work. They fitted like a glove. Also the almasty has been reported in areas of Russia close to the boarder with Finland. Reports of trolls persisted in the wilder parts of Scandinavia well into the 20th century. The two are probably one in the same. The smaller goblins may be a distorted memory of another kind of hominin, one smaller than man as opposed to larger.
 

lordmongrove

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We must also take into account that the dragons reported by people in medieval Europe may have been 'paranormal' manifestations for want of a better word. Something more akin to Mothman or Owlman than a flesh and blood animal that you could catch and put on display at a zoo. Janet and Colin Board touch on this in their 1980 book Alien Animals.
 

PeteByrdie

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These are both excellent examples, and exactly the kind of representation I was hoping for! Do you know anything about their age and the civilisations from which they came? And can we be sure of any direct link between their appearance and that of European dragons? I'm sorry to be pinning you down on this but you're an authority on the subject (I've got your book), but I remain unconvinced that the appearance of the winged, quadrupedal European dragon didn't arise independently.
 

MrRING

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https://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2019/04/a-first-hand-description-of-a-dragon.html
There's a lot of good stuff in The Retreat of the Elephants: An Environmental History of China by Mark Elvin, which I just finished reading, but I want to pull out one especially notable passage: Elvin's translation of a first-hand description of a dragon.
and

Xie Zhaozhe was, for his time, a skeptic: he didn't necessarily trust recorded events or interpretations, he wanted precise observations from people he could trust. He tested a number of sayings or principles by personal observation, and wasn't afraid to say that something "everybody knows" might not be true. He wasn't a scientist, but he wasn't less "scientific" than most Europeans writing natural history at that time.

And he writes that he saw dragons, on an occasion when other people saw them, too.

The event took place when he was approximately twelve years old, in the East China Sea, probably en route to Okinawa:

I journeyed in 1579 with my paternal grandfather, ...when he was in charge of the official travel arrangements [for the commissioner to the Liuqui Islands]. We were halfway there when a typhoon arose. Thunder, lightning, rain, and hailstones all fell upon us at the same time. There were three dragons suspended upside down to the fore and aft of the ship. Their whiskers were interwound with the waters of the sea and penetrated the clouds. All the horns on their heads were visible, but below their waists nothing could be seen. Those in the ship were in a state of agitation and without any plan of action, but an old man said, "This is no more than the dragons coming to pay court to the commissioner's document bearing the imperial seal." He made those attending on the envoy have the latter write a document in his own hand bringing the court audience to an end. The dragons complied with the time so indicated and withdrew. [1]​

In another account of the same experience, Xie Zhaozhe says that the dragons were

suspended upside down from the edges of the clouds, and still more than a thousand feet above the water, which rose boiling like steam or smoke to conjoin with the clouds, the people seeing the dragons with minute particularity. [2]​
 
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