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Re: Dinos and Mythology



Some of the parallels are hard to accept, like Mayor's idea that
Griffins were inspired by Protoceratops, with beaks and claws (makes
sense) and frills as wings (little more difficult to accept).
Although, some of the depictions of Griffins do have the wings pretty
close to the skull. BUT, if the idea had to travel across all of
central asia, a lot of distortion could be expected. Mayor's
interpretation of the pottery vase scene depicted here:
http://press.princeton.edu/titles/6811.html
seems pretty accurate, that it's a skull, eroding out of rock,
considered to be a dragon/monster.

The other problem is that, amoung the Germans, dragons are often
called 'worms'. Now, is that because a snake was wormlike, or was the
reference entirely different? There aren't so many locations where you
get dragon-like creatures easily exposed at the surface, so the idea
definitely has to spread through a lot of cultures and territory, and
could get very distorted a la the children's game of 'telephone'.

Another attractive, though implausible perhaps, source for dragon
myths is that our really primitive ancestors, living in the trees,
were keyed up to detect predatory arboreal serpents, and so we have
some sort of 'paranoia' about this surviving in us today (like I said,
maybe its an attractive idea, but its a pretty weak one. Better than
Scientology though!)



On Sat, Oct 22, 2011 at 8:54 AM, Trish A. <babbletrish@gmail.com> wrote:
> 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
>



-- 
Robert J. Schenck
Kingsborough Community College
Physical Sciences Department
S332 ph# 718-368-5792
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