Dragon Category

A dragon is a large, serpentine, legendary creature that appears in the folklore of many cultures worldwide. Beliefs about dragons vary considerably through regions, but dragons in western cultures since the High Middle Ages have often been depicted as winged, horned, four-legged, and capable of breathing fire. Dragons in eastern cultures are usually depicted as wingless, four-legged, serpentine creatures with above-average intelligence. Commonalities between dragons' traits are often a hybridization of feline, avian, and reptilian features, and may include: snakelike features, reptilian scaly skin, four legs with three or four toes on each, spinal nodes running down the back, a tail, and a serrated jaw with rows of teeth. Several modern scholars believe huge extinct or migrating crocodiles bear the closest resemblance, especially when encountered in forested or swampy areas, and are most likely the template of modern dragon imagery. The earliest attested reports of draconic creatures resemble giant snakes. Draconic creatures are first described in the mythologies of the ancient Near East and appear in ancient Mesopotamian art and literature. Stories about storm-gods slaying giant serpents occur throughout nearly all Indo-European and Near Eastern mythologies. Famous prototypical draconic creatures include the muuu of ancient Mesopotamia, Apep in Egyptian mythology, Vtra in the Rigveda, the Leviathan in the Hebrew Bible, Grand'Goule in the Poitou region in France, Python, Ladon, Wyvern, and the Lernaean Hydra in Greek mythology, Jrmungandr, Nhggr, and Fafnir in Norse mythology, and the dragon from Beowulf. The popular western image of a dragon is likely based on a conflation of earlier dragons from different traditions, and of inaccurate scribal drawings of snakes.

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