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Here be Dragons?
During our stay with Richard and Michelle in England just before the Beltring rally in 1999 we were treated to a cup of Tea in "an English country garden". Richard, probably much to the relief of our wives, hijacked the conversation from Tanks, Politics and our respective economies with the innocent question, "have you really ever thought about Dragons?"
"Huh? Where did that come from?"
What has the following got to do with tanks? Nothing; other than it came from someone who is interested in them. But I found his notion intriguing, not having ever heard the subject treated as anything other than folklore before.
So have a read and see what you think.
I think there is a very good case to believe Dragons did exist a long way back although there is only circumstantial and theoretical evidence.
This is what we know to be factual, almost every ancient culture in the world has folklore about dragons and considering the age of these tales there is a surprising degree of commonality about the properties of dragons, these tales were written or otherwise recorded hundreds of years at least before the first semblance of human world exploration and so corruption or fabrication of the individual accounts is highly unlikely or impossible.
The pictorial impression of the dragon has in places become stylised although some cultures depict a scaly creature with a long neck, rotund body and a tail, it has stumpy legs and almost vestigial wings that are obviously wholly inadequate to support the apparent mass of the creature.
The accounts we have of dragons around the world are in agreement about their apparent properties which are that they live in caves, breathe fire, fly, are very difficult to kill and have poisonous blood, and the latter is a huge but plausible mis-understanding of body chemistry. Folklore has us believe that the local dragon forayed from its cave and terrorised the mud hut dwellers setting fire to huts, people and crops alike. We know that there are no remains of dragons at all and I believe all this and all the points above can be adequately answered as they are all interconnected and essential to the dragon's existence.
The dragon did all the things claimed and it was actually an airship.
Take fire, there are several creatures alive today that can self-generate substantial amounts of electrical energy and one South American beetle that defends itself by directing a jet of inflammable liquid and igniting it with a spark - I may have the continent wrong but recall seeing it on a world renown natural history series done by David Attenborough no less.
OK ignition we have.
The other factors now fall into place, the dragon airship flies by eating limestone which when in contact with enough strong stomach acid (and it could be a separate "flying" organ) which we all have to this day inflates the rotund body with hydrogen, the actual creature is very small and light but the continuous semi-inflated state makes it look bigger than it is. Now we have the lift arrangement.
It would be a cave dweller as the natural caves would be of a soft rock like limestone and provide one component for hydrogen generation, it would have to vent gas from time to time and this is very dangerous in an enclosed space so igniting it on the way out is entirely correct. The terrorisation of the populace whilst flying, where the vestigial wings are for propulsion only, by setting fire to things is not intentional but necessary to maintain height control or effect a landing, although dragons seem to have been secretive animals and in fact fly quite infrequently.
Now the hard to kill scenario and poisonous "blood" is easy, of course the vital organs are actually tiny and displaced into a small space below the neck, striking the apparent mass of body just ruptures the gas bag and is not fatal, however should you come into contact with the stomach/gas cell liquid it would cause serious burns and be mistaken for poisonous blood. This also explains the lack of any hard evidence as a dead dragon dissolves itself without the constant bio-regeneration of the stomach/gas cell lining.
There are certainly many things apparently stranger than fiction in the natural world today and it would seem that all the properties necessary to make a "fire-breathing" airship-dragon have been available in nature for thousands of years, as for the extended neck and tail I see these as useful attributes for stability and attitude control, the zeppelins had a system of weights on wires that could be run from the bow to stern, like submarine trim tanks, to correct attitude errors. Stumpy legs both save weight and are all that is needed for semi-supported land movement.
© Copyright Richard Notton.
My thanks to Richard for his theory.
I note that the modern representation of a Dragon is of a huge beast somewhere around the size of a Giraffe. But if you have a look at the old illustrations, of "Sir whomever slaying the Dragon" rather than the current war gamers/role play artist renderings you will see that the Dragon is never depicted as being much bigger than chest height of the Knight. If stretched out then about 10" long maximum, standing shoulder height would only be about 3'.
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