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Are legendary "dragons" really dinosaurs?


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#1    draconic chronicler

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 03:09 PM

DemonWatcher,
To answer your last post on the crypto forum, the Hebrew/Christian religious teachings didn't introduce the idea of dragons to the Romans, they were already widely believed in.  The famous poet Lucan wrote a poem about flying dragons chasing african herds, Scientists like Pliny the Elder wrote of their habits, suggesting personal observation and there were many representations of them.  This man was no crackpot, but the commander of the Roman Fleet based in Naples.  These creatures were completely "real" to the Roman world, as surely as any elephant or lion, although unlike these animals, dragons were recognized as servants to their Gods just as in the Judao Christian religions.  For example a dragon loyal to Aries guarded the Golden Fleece in a tree, and this fleece granted eternal life, just as the fruit of the tree guarded by a dragon in the Hebrew Eden story, originally a Sumerian story where the dragon's role as its guardian is even clearer.  Just as the Jewish God sent dragon servants to punish humans, so did the dragons were sent by Gods to punish humans in Greco-Roman and other cultures.  Dragons for example were sent by Athena to devour a priest and his sons who was going to reveal the secret of the Greeks hiding in the Trojan Horse.  And of course, the maiden sacrifice to dragon legends stem from angry Greek Gods sending dragons to punish some kingdom in this manner.  

This is why the dragons in Judao-Christian theology brought to Rome were readily accepted by them and dragons appear in all of their relgious art.  The  Romans, being a maritime people, completely understood and depiected whales, sharks and fish in their art, yet always portrayed the creature swallowing Jonah as a dragon, because this is what is was called  in the bible before more modern Christians rewrote this scripture and many others concerning dragons, and of course many other subjects.  It is very interesting that these dragons depicted in Greco Roman art look very much like the supposed loch ness monster, other sea and lake monsters and long necked dinosaurs.  It strongly suggests these peoples all knew these "dragons" as living creatures, unlike most of the "mythological" animals depicted in their art which were impossible combinations of lion or horse bodies with fish tails.

The Greco-Roman dragons are very much like a Pliosaur, but with clawed front feet, and when in water, their wings pressed tightly to their bodies.  Were they actually seeing a real marine reptile, which their artistic  impressions so uncannily resemble, and just made them fly at times as well?  Or if God is real, or some unknown intelligence that deserves a better name, has this entity somehow "improved" existing perhistoric creatures we now call dragons to do his bidding as legends and religious texts all around the world suggest?  
Or could the firm belief of dragons as real creatures in the whole ancient world, a world nearly as educated and sophisticated as our own,  all be nothing but a worldwide international mass hysteria based just on some alledgedly discovered fossil bones, for which the ancients would have no way of even determining belonged to reptiles, or that these creatures had wings and flew?

To think so, sceptics would have to have more "faith" in the improbable hysteria created by a few bones that spread all over the word turning them all into a near identical creature, than the faith in a "power" above mortal man have which the believers in "religion" have.

Edited by SaRuMaN, 30 November 2005 - 04:02 PM.


#2    Uversa

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 03:46 PM

The whole dragon topic is all very interesting, I think its hard to believe that they merely just dreamt up these mythical characters, as they appear in pretty much the same form in cutlures all over the world... and like you say they also have a striking resemblance to certain types of dinosaurs.

I personally think that the dragon/dinosaur did exist at one time and was witnessed by all these cultures.

Its not that hard to believe that science got it wrong and that a select few dinosaurs roamed the earth up until recently, i mean hey there still could be a few species living deep in the undergroath somewhere for all we know.

I also think that the fire breathing dinosaur they tell about could have been true, if you think about it its not THAT amazingly impossible... this reptile could have sacks of a certain flammable gas that it produces, and when angry scraped some type of bone or tooth together in its fore-mouth acting like a flint, breathing out the gas and causing it to literally breathe fire. Nature comes up with some most ingenious defense mechanisms and I personally dont think its totally out of the question that what they talk and draw about was an absolute reality.

Although its more probable that it was a dinosaur and the fire breathing was an extra add on to spice up the stories

Edited by Uversa, 30 November 2005 - 11:34 PM.


#3    Guardsman Bass

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 04:13 PM

This is the problem, though, with all of this. You are relying entirely on accounts of ancient people, who were certainly not adverse to magical and religious elements and visions - including the most elite public figures. In order to prove that the Romans somehow saw marine reptiles, or dragons of a sort, we need remnants of bones, corpses, and the like. For a similar example, think of the giant squid. Until recently, there were no live sightings of it, but corpses washed up on the sea. The same goes for the giant birds of New Zealand, where although the natives exterminated them, the bones are still available for study to back up the accounts of the natives.

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#4    Uversa

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 04:50 PM

Quote


This is the problem, though, with all of this. You are relying entirely on accounts of ancient people, who were certainly not adverse to magical and religious elements and visions - including the most elite public figures. In order to prove that the Romans somehow saw marine reptiles, or dragons of a sort, we need remnants of bones, corpses, and the like. For a similar example, think of the giant squid. Until recently, there were no live sightings of it, but corpses washed up on the sea. The same goes for the giant birds of New Zealand, where although the natives exterminated them, the bones are still available for study to back up the accounts of the natives.



but whats your point then?

Millions of dinosaur bones have been dug up. including thousands of flying dinosaurs.

The debate in hand is wether they were alive at the time of ancients, and wether they infact were able to breathe fire.


edit - you are right in saying alot of ancient cultures toyed with magical visions and hilucinagenic (sp) drugs, but what are the chances of them seeing creatures who intricately resemble creatures that actually existed (disregarding the fire breathing part for now)

Although for all we know certain types of dinosaurs were able to breathe fire, its scientifically and logically possible as I breifly explained in my post above

Edited by Uversa, 30 November 2005 - 04:55 PM.


#5    fallingalien

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 08:10 PM

I don't know where you heard God sends dragons down to punish people?

Edited by Richdog, 02 December 2005 - 01:01 PM.

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#6    DemonWatcher

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 11:08 PM

Quote


DemonWatcher,
To answer your last post on the crypto forum, the Hebrew/Christian religious teachings didn't introduce the idea of dragons to the Romans, they were already widely believed in.  The famous poet Lucan wrote a poem about flying dragons chasing african herds, Scientists like Pliny the Elder wrote of their habits, suggesting personal observation and there were many representations of them.  This man was no crackpot, but the commander of the Roman Fleet based in Naples.  These creatures were completely "real" to the Roman world, as surely as any elephant or lion, although unlike these animals, dragons were recognized as servants to their Gods just as in the Judao Christian religions.  For example a dragon loyal to Aries guarded the Golden Fleece in a tree, and this fleece granted eternal life, just as the fruit of the tree guarded by a dragon in the Hebrew Eden story, originally a Sumerian story where the dragon's role as its guardian is even clearer.  Just as the Jewish God sent dragon servants to punish humans, so did the dragons were sent by Gods to punish humans in Greco-Roman and other cultures.  Dragons for example were sent by Athena to devour a priest and his sons who was going to reveal the secret of the Greeks hiding in the Trojan Horse.  And of course, the maiden sacrifice to dragon legends stem from angry Greek Gods sending dragons to punish some kingdom in this manner.  

This is why the dragons in Judao-Christian theology brought to Rome were readily accepted by them and dragons appear in all of their relgious art.  The  Romans, being a maritime people, completely understood and depiected whales, sharks and fish in their art, yet always portrayed the creature swallowing Jonah as a dragon, because this is what is was called  in the bible before more modern Christians rewrote this scripture and many others concerning dragons, and of course many other subjects.  It is very interesting that these dragons depicted in Greco Roman art look very much like the supposed loch ness monster, other sea and lake monsters and long necked dinosaurs.  It strongly suggests these peoples all knew these "dragons" as living creatures, unlike most of the "mythological" animals depicted in their art which were impossible combinations of lion or horse bodies with fish tails.

The Greco-Roman dragons are very much like a Pliosaur, but with clawed front feet, and when in water, their wings pressed tightly to their bodies.  Were they actually seeing a real marine reptile, which their artistic  impressions so uncannily resemble, and just made them fly at times as well?  Or if God is real, or some unknown intelligence that deserves a better name, has this entity somehow "improved" existing perhistoric creatures we now call dragons to do his bidding as legends and religious texts all around the world suggest?  
Or could the firm belief of dragons as real creatures in the whole ancient world, a world nearly as educated and sophisticated as our own,  all be nothing but a worldwide international mass hysteria based just on some alledgedly discovered fossil bones, for which the ancients would have no way of even determining belonged to reptiles, or that these creatures had wings and flew?

To think so, sceptics would have to have more "faith" in the improbable hysteria created by a few bones that spread all over the word turning them all into a near identical creature, than the faith in a "power" above mortal man have which the believers in "religion" have.

not to sound like a idiot or a$$, but this i knew, i was trying to tell frogfish why the image changed so dramatically, in a more easy to understand way.
Thanks for the info, always an honor and privilage to speak to a historian who is well versed in something beyond high school and first year college history.

I am a Watcher by birth, and so it should not surprise any when my observations are truthful.

History is where you confuse the long since deceased
And irritate the h**l out of the living.~ Golden Hawk

#7    DemonWatcher

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 11:13 PM

Quote


I don't know where you heard God sends dragons down to punish people?

the original Hebrew text mentions it.

I am a Watcher by birth, and so it should not surprise any when my observations are truthful.

History is where you confuse the long since deceased
And irritate the h**l out of the living.~ Golden Hawk

#8    draconic chronicler

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Posted 01 December 2005 - 02:19 AM

Yes, numerous times in the old testament, and actually in the New Testament as well, though again more recent additions have altered the text.  These are the 200,000 fire spewing, sharp toothed and snake tailed creatures that are supposed to devour/destroy on third of the human population.  Like so much of Christian doctrine in general and John's book of Revelation in paritcular, much is copied verbatim from Zorastrian theology.  In their end of the world, it is dragons that will destroy this exact same third of mankind.  I think because John already called Satan a dragon, to call all of these others dragons too, would lessen the impact in the story of the dragon, "Satan".  So all St. John did was call them fire spewing, sharp toothed, snake tailed "creatures" or"beasts" and in later translations they were changed to very improbable "horses".  But not only are these unquestionably dragons, but other early christian literature clearly proves they are "heavenly dragons" commanded by God, and not some kind of demons or such as the verse has now evolved into.  There are many references to heavenly dragons devouring the wicked on judgement day, and this is why the original concept of hell is depicted as a gaping dragon's mouth filled with the damned.  This evolved in the pagan Greek hades idea largely with the popularity of Dante's Inferno.  Of course, there will still dragons there to devour the wicked.


#9    DemonWatcher

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Posted 01 December 2005 - 09:57 PM

yes, i believe you said that more times than you wanted to back in the original dragon thread.
What of the Asiatic Dragon?
I am assuming that you have much information on them as well.

I am a Watcher by birth, and so it should not surprise any when my observations are truthful.

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And irritate the h**l out of the living.~ Golden Hawk

#10    Guardsman Bass

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Posted 01 December 2005 - 10:21 PM

Quote


but whats your point then?

Millions of dinosaur bones have been dug up. including thousands of flying dinosaurs.

The debate in hand is wether they were alive at the time of ancients, and wether they infact were able to breathe fire.


My point was that we need more than accounts from human 'observers' (of whom we have little or no capability of confirming whether they are being truthful or not), who are easily tricked by optical illusions, other creatures, and 'urban legends' (although they would just be folktales back then). In order to actually confirm that the ancients lived among, or at least witnessed, some kind of reptilian flyers, we need bones (they would be too recent for fossils, although you should be able to find fossils linking them to a line of ancestry dating from the time of the dinosaurs), accounts of how they acted in the environment, hardened droppings, the like.

Quote

edit - you are right in saying alot of ancient cultures toyed with magical visions and hilucinagenic (sp) drugs, but what are the chances of them seeing creatures who intricately resemble creatures that actually existed (disregarding the fire breathing part for now)


That depends on which account of the dragons you rely upon. The traditional image of a European dragon, with its wings, more dinosaur-ish head, and large size, does not resemble a pterodactyle, which stood on all fours when resting on a cliff or the ground, was a gliding creature, ate primarily bugs, fish, or small creatures, and were incredibly light and fragile for their size (Quetzacoatlus, with a wingspan of over 15 meters in the largest specimens, most likely weighed no more than 100 kg).

Quote


Although for all we know certain types of dinosaurs were able to breathe fire, its scientifically and logically possible as I breifly explained in my post above


You could conceivably think of a creature that could breathe fire, but that doesn't mean one will emerge, and especially evolve. For example, why would a dragon need fire, when most of them are portrayed as having sharp teeth and claws? Why would the evolutionary ancestors of the dragon develop the rudiments of breathing fire, including a bladder to hold flammable gas, teeth that can act as a flint, and a mouth that is both dry enough and durable enough to resist the heat of burning gas?

"You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours." -Sir Charles Napier

"The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer. It has never yet melted."   D.H. Lawrence

#11    Uversa

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 12:27 AM

dont ask me wink2.gif

Im only posing certain possibilities to consider, instead of just saying 'No because theres no proof, end of'


#12    draconic chronicler

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 12:58 PM

DW,
When one studies very ancient representations of Oriental dragons from archaeology, we find that they are seem a more realistic animal, complete with wings, virtually identical to the  dragons depicted in Western Asia and Europe.  This could suggest that in ancient and early medieval times when the rest of the world believed in, and constantly reported seeing "dragons", that these "realistic" dragons were also seen in the orient and "drawn from life".  Later, when dragons became less commonly seen (though still believed in as they are today in the oriental world), the oriignal "look" of the dragon was forgotten and the more stylized form evolved.  Being "supernatural", they no longer needed wings to fly, and unusual, non reptilian features like antlers sometimes added.

Then if they are the "same" creature, some may ask why the oriental dragons seem more freindly disposed towards humans.  Since no post Cretaceous fossils of dragon-like creatures have ever been found, perhaps, like many other "unexplained mysteries" they may indeed have a religious or supernatural origin as virtually all of the worldwide myths suggest anyway.  Virtually all of the myths and legends of Europe and Western Asia suggest they are servant creatures to the gods/dieties for dieties themselves.  In many of the legends, and even the Bible, these dragons are sent to punish segments of mankind, from indiivuals to whole nations, but those humans related to those specific regions and cultures.  

Perhaps this is why the dragons in the far east were considered benificent, and not "evil".  Appaently they essentially did not meddle in the affairs of the orientals to any degree, but were still seen.  Anything as fantastic as such a creature would likely be regarded as a diety of some sort, and if it didn't hurt you outright, you would believe it is a "good" diety. And if it flew in the sky, you might think it was responsible for bringing rain, as many dragon dieties are credited.

Even so, there are still oriental legends of dragons devouring humans and inflicting other punishments, but usually in these stories, the humans were considered evil, or otherwise warranted their retributions.




#13    DemonWatcher

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Posted 02 December 2005 - 09:28 PM

thanks DC, for clearing that up for me.

Quote

Even so, there are still oriental legends of dragons devouring humans and inflicting other punishments, but usually in these stories, the humans were considered evil, or otherwise warranted their retributions.


this made me smile, *thinking of not so nice ruler being eaten by big flying reptile like creature.*

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And irritate the h**l out of the living.~ Golden Hawk

#14    Ancile Angeli

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Posted 03 December 2005 - 01:12 AM

I love dragons more than any mythological creature, but to be honest, I think it's just that; a mythological creature. There may have been large flying reptiles in the prehistoric ages, but it's hard to believe that these reptiles had the ability to breathe out fire through their nose and mouth.

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#15    DemonWatcher

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Posted 03 December 2005 - 01:36 AM

the fire breathing was added at a later date in time, that is what makes it mythological, however a creature by that description may have been around, even if in an intangible form.

I am a Watcher by birth, and so it should not surprise any when my observations are truthful.

History is where you confuse the long since deceased
And irritate the h**l out of the living.~ Golden Hawk




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