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Re: Dinos and Mythology



That (simply put and to borrow a phrase) Dragons Are Dinosaurs is an
interesting thought.  However, as a person who has studied
paleontology and mythology ever since she could read, I find it runs
into a number of snags.

The big one is this: Take a look at very old art of dragons, statues
and paintings and gargoyles and whatnot.  You'll notice a great deal
of them don't appear to take much inspiration from extinct animal
remains at all, and instead often look like (believe it or not) a dog
with fanciful wings.  Others look like gigantic snakes.  One of my
favorites (I think it's the Tarasque) is essentially a nasty version
of "Avatar"'s Lionturtle.  Asian dragons are specifically based off
several different animals; everything from the obvious catfish and
pythons to cows (ears) and rabbits (red eyes).

There is, however, one dragon statue whose face is based directly on
that of a rhinoceros skull found nearby, and sadly, I cannot look up
where it can be found as I gave away the book about it.  (facepalm)

I hope it doesn't sound like I'm discouraging this study of yours.
Actually, I am curious as to whether there are more mythical creatures
unquestionably based off fossils.

Inevitable TV Tropes link:
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DinosaursAreDragons

- Trish

Date: Fri, 21 Oct 2011 10:05:33 +0200
From: david
I've been collecting materials on this topic for a documentary theme -
the social aspects of paleontology are fascinating.
One source stands above everything else I've been able to scratch
together - unfortunately it's in German:

Fossilien im Volksglauben und im Alltag
(http://www.amazon.de/Fossilien-im-Volksglauben-Alltag/dp/3510610512)

Topics cover all the mentioned cases here plus:
the Lindwurm (Plateosaurus,rhinoceros)
the unicorn (goat, narwhale, mammoth)
thunderstones, stone-coins, snake-stones
ammoniten as holy water-stones (japan, england)
cyclops (dwarf elephant, rhinoceros skulls)

Very quick and dirty translations... ping me if you have any specific
translation interests


On 10/20/2011 17:20, David Krentz wrote:
>    There are many creatures throughout the various traditions of mythology 
> that are 'reptilian' in nature.  Dragons, Basilisks, Wyverns , Tarasques, 
> Ki-rin, etc. Also, various sea creatures like Leviathan and Jormungandr etc 
> also seems to be built on the reptilian model.  I know there have been some 
> attempts to link mythological creatures to fossil evidence -like the Griffon 
> and Cyclops- but is it entirely reasonable to assume that some of these 
> creatures were 'inspired' by dinosaur bones?  One can only imagine what an 
> ancient chinese farmer would think of a giant sauropod neck within close 
> proximity of a theropod skull.
>
>     D