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Re: re Dragons

> Another interesting sidebar to this is that the Chinese have been grinding up 
> dinosaur bones and using them as a medicinal powder for quite a long time. Roy
> Chapman Andrews even mentioned this in one of his books following his 
> Mongolian expeditions in the 1920s. I don't know what ailments the ground-up 
> bones were intended to cure, or whether this is still a common practice. Maybe
> someone else can shed some light on this.

In Taiwan, I have never seen fossils displayed in the herb shops.  (The herb
shops usually display their rarity in glass cases.  This includes items like
rhino horns when they were still legal.)

Dragon bones are fossils, not only of dinosaurs bot also of mammals.  (Today
dragons are usually painted with an alligator snout and a pair of deer
antlers.  In some of the early forms dragons were equipped with not deer
antlers, but giraffe horns.  Now imagine a set of incomplete giraffe skeleton,
with the head and the vertebra but no limbs.  It looks like a snake, isn't

In Ben-cao Gang-mu ("Great Pharmacopoeia"), compiled by the 16th-century
scholar Li Shi-zhen, dragon is listed under the dragon category, which in
turns is listed under the "scaly creature" department.

Under the scaly creature department there are four categories: dragon,
snake, fish, and fish without scales.  Under the dragon category there are
nine species, including dragon, "diao", "jiao" (two special kinds of dragon),
"tuo" dragon (alligator/crocodile), pangolin, lizard, gecko, newt/salamander,
and "salt dragon" (don't know what it is).

Under the item of dragon there are dragon bone, dragon tooth, dragon horn (the
above three are actually fossils), dragon brain, dragon embryo (don't know
what they are; apparently they are soft tissues and not fossils.), and
dragon saliva (ambergris are believed to be dragon saliva swallowed by "big

Now let's turn to the description of dragon bones.  Dragon bones are
collected mainly from Shan-xi, and "the valleys in Si-chuan".  (The source
cited by Li Shi-zhen can be traced back to the 6th century, so Chinese have
been eating dinosaur fossils since then.)  Dragon is the symbol of Yang, so
dragon bones were used mainly to cure the illness caused by the lack of the
Yang essence.  (Because of this concern dragon bones were suggested not to be
collected by the female collectors.)  What illness were related to the lack
of Yang?  Well, a lot.  Just to take some random examples, it ranges from
amnesia, dysentery, malaria, blood in urine, to nocturnal emission and
dreaming of intercourse with ghosts.

Actually there are far more material to dragon bones in Ben-cao Gang-mu than
described above.  But it is heavily loaded with the jargons and concepts from
Chinese medicine and alchemy, things like the different usages of dragon
bones according to their colors, etc., which is beyond my ability to render
in English.

And above all, don't grind up and consume your fossil collection without
consulting to your doctor first.

Hao-yang Wang
Pai Technology, Inc.