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Re: "Dragons?"



D.I.G. wrote:

> Mr. Woolf writes that there is "no reason to be limited in his
> thinking."
>
> This is fine if we are talking about either speculation or fairy tales
> (both of which I indulge in myself).
>
> On the other hand, a hypothesis (of the type common in cryptozoology)
> has been proposed: to wit: the specific origin of the so-called European
> dragon is from dinosaur bones.
>

Hm?  The hypothesis as I understood it is that European dragons (and other 
mythological
creatures) are based in some part on _fossils_.  Not necessarily _dinosaur_ 
fossils.
Just fossils.

> That hypothesis is substantiated by EVIDENCE in CHINA.
>
> To the best of my knowlege, however, there is NO EVIDENCE in EUROPE.
>
> While I wouldn't for a moment disagree with Mr. Woolf's assessment of
> the resemblance between various modern photographs of fossils and
> paintings of various dragons, these is a totally hindsight evaluation.
>

It's also a hindsight evaluation that Chinese dragons are based on dinosaurs.  
To the
best of my knowledge, there are no ancient Chinese writings that describe finds 
of
"dragon bones" in terms that allow such bones to be definitively assigned to 
one or
another group of dinosaurs.  It seems _reasonable_ that the Chinese leongs are 
based on
dinosaurs, and probably sauropods, but we can't be sure of that.  All the 
evidence is
circumstantial.  For all we know, they were digging up mammal bones.  Heck, for 
all we
know the leong was a real animal once!

> If someone could, in fact, DOCUMENT the relationship between a fossil
> find say 800 years ago and some medieval painter sitting down and going
> "Aha! I think I'll draw a picture of what this thing looks like!" I
> would love to see it! So far as I know, Hawkins (sp? Brian?) is the
> first artist to do such a thing and he is mid 19th century.
>

The visual similarity between the particular wyvern I was referring to and a 
pterosaur
is much closer than the similarity between a sauropod and a leong.  But for some
inaccuracies about the wings, this wyvern _is_ a scaled-up pterosaur, almost 
certainly
either _Ramphorhynchus_ or some closely related genus.  When was the last time 
you saw
a leong drawn in such a way that you could identify the genus of dinosaur on 
which it
was based?

As for documentation of the relationship, you might be interested in reading a 
sidebox
discussion that's found on pp.225-6 of Peter Dodson's THE HORNED DINOSAURS.  
The gist
of it is that a Dr. Adrienne Mayor found that the Greeks first start referring 
to a
mythical animal called a griffin shortly after their first contact with Scythian
traders from the east.  Central Asian trade routes of that time crossed the 
Mongolian
desert, through red sandstones where _Protoceratops_ skeletons are more common 
than
rats.  And there is much more than a passing resemblance between a proto and the
classic description of a griffin.

-- JSW