[EDITOR’S NOTE: Part I of this two-part series appeared in the September issue. Part II follows below, and continues, without introductory comments, where the first article ended.]
Although some will continue to dismiss all dragons as purely mythical creatures, the widely purported, eyewitness accounts of these animals indicate otherwise. In his foreword to Dr. Shuker’s book Dragons: A Natural History, Desmond Morris remarked: “As recently as the seventeenth century, scholars wrote of dragons as though they were scientific fact, their anatomy and natural history being recorded in painstaking detail” (Shuker, 1995, p. 8). Hogarth and Clery agreed, saying, “No matter where they lived, everyone could describe dragons and dragon behavior in colorfully lurid detail” (1979, p. 12). They continued:
The evidence [for dragons—EL] is not confined to works of natural history and literature but appears in everyday chronicles of events.... And such eyewitness accounts are not derived from hearsay or anonymous rumor; they were set down by people of some standing, by kings and knights, monks and archbishops, scholars and saints (pp. 13-14).
Even Animal Planet could not help but be impressed by the voluminous amount of documentation for these animals. In their 2005 film on dragons they expressed amazement over “how much was known about dragons.... All the different kinds of dragons. And it’s all documented in medieval manuscripts and Chinese encyclopedias” (Dragons: A Fantasy..., emp. added). One of the producers of the film even asked: “Everyday of the week Animal Planet tells you about all the animals around this planet that we live on. But what about the one animal that we all know about, the one animal that we all grew up with, the one animal that’s in popular culture around the world?” (2005, emp. added). Why do more people not consider these animals as historical? After all, as consultant Dr. Peter Hogarth pointed out, “People believed in dragons as real animals, just like any other animal. And, actually if you think about it, how could you say in Western Europe in the Middle Ages that an elephant was a real animal and a dragon wasn’t? The information you had about them was both the same in each case” (2005).
Pteranodon had a wingspan of over 23 feet.
Even the Bible—the most historically documented, widely read ancient book in all the world—describes dragon-like animals. Like Herodotus and Josephus, it mentions the “flying serpent” (Isaiah 30:6). In Job 40, God described a behemoth with bones “like bars of bronze,...ribs like bars of iron” (vs. 18) whose tail “moves...like a cedar” (vs. 17). This behemoth was “chief of the ways of God” (vs. 19, ASV). Though there likely was much speculation about this animal, since he apparently lived a more secluded life “under the lotus trees, in a covert of reeds and marsh” (vs. 21), it was no fairytale creature, for God told Job that, the behemoth, “I made along with you” (vs. 15).
Still, perhaps more notable than the massive behemoth is the creature that God described next. In speaking to Job about His sovereignty over the natural world, Jehovah described a real animal called leviathan. God began by asking several rhetorical questions:
Can you draw out leviathan with a hook, or snare his tongue with a line which you lower? Can you put a reed through his nose, or pierce his jaw with a hook? Will he make many supplications to you? Will he speak softly to you? Will he make a covenant with you? Will you take him as a servant forever? Will you play with him as with a bird, or will you leash him for your maidens? Will your companions make a banquet of him? Will they apportion him among the merchants? Can you fill his skin with harpoons, or his head with fishing spears? Lay your hand on him; remember the battle—never do it again! Indeed, any hope of overcoming him is false; shall one not be overwhelmed at the sight of him? No one is so fierce that he would dare stir him up.... I will not conceal his limbs, his mighty power, or his graceful proportions. Who can remove his outer coat? Who can approach him with a double bridle? Who can open the doors of his face, with his terrible teeth all around (41:1-14)?
Job could do none of these things. Through poetic language, God obviously was reminding Job of leviathan’s renowned strength and ferocity. God continued his description of leviathan, saying:
His rows of scales are his pride, shut up tightly as with a seal; one is so near another that no air can come between them; they are joined one to another, they stick together and cannot be parted. His sneezings flash forth light, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning. Out of his mouth go burning lights; sparks of fire shoot out. Smoke goes out of his nostrils, as from a boiling pot and burning rushes. His breath kindles coals, and a flame goes out of his mouth. Strength dwells in his neck, and sorrow dances before him. The folds of his flesh are joined together; they are firm on him and cannot be moved. His heart is as hard as stone, even as hard as the lower millstone. When he raises himself up, the mighty are afraid; because of his crashings they are beside themselves. Though the sword reaches him, it cannot avail; nor does spear, dart, or javelin. He regards iron as straw, and bronze as rotten wood. The arrow cannot make him flee; slingstones become like stubble to him. Darts are regarded as straw; he laughs at the threat of javelins. His undersides are like sharp potsherds; He spreads pointed marks in the mire. He makes the deep boil like a pot; he makes the sea like a pot of ointment. He leaves a shining wake behind him; one would think the deep had white hair. On earth there is nothing like him, which is made without fear. He beholds every high thing; He is king over all the children of pride (41:15-34).
“Leviathan” by Lewis Lavoie
Could a better description of a dragon be found anywhere? Leviathan had mighty power, an extremely strong neck, “terrible teeth all around,” tightly joined rows of scales that were virtually impenetrable, and a jagged underside that left pointed marks on the ground when it came on land. Most impressive was its ability to expel “sparks of fire” from its mouth and “smoke” from its nose. Were this found in a book of mythology, one might chalk it up to fantasy. However, leviathan and behemoth were anything but mythical (see Lyons, 2001, 21:1-7). These creatures are recorded in the Bible, not a book of fables and mythology, and they were described by God Himself. What’s more, these creatures were described in a context where many other real animals were mentioned, including the horse, the hawk, and the ostrich (Job 38-39). Finally, if behemoth and leviathan were, in fact, make-believe, God’s entire speech (regarding His sovereignty over the created world) would be pointless.
So what were dragons? The stories about them are worldwide. They are recorded in reputable, historical writings as factual. If one cannot reasonably dismiss all of these creatures with a mere wave of the hand, what could they have been? Are there any animals alive today that resemble dragons? Or, do we know of any good candidates that are now extinct?
In an article titled “Top 10 Beasts and Dragons: How Reality Made Myth,” evolutionist Ker Than explored “what may have inspired the look of dragons” (2007). He first proposed that “Chinese alligators may have been one of the inspirations for the Asian dragon” (2007). Other nominees included the three-foot frill-neck lizard, the 20-inch bearded dragon, the seven-inch flying dragon (which uses wing-like folds of skin to jump from tree to tree), the 18-inch fish we call a sea dragon, the 10-foot-long Komodo dragon, and the 30-foot python. Incredibly, Than’s number one explanation for dragon legends centered around—not animals—but comets.
To people living in ancient times, a comet streaking through the skies with an icy tail millions of miles long would have closely resembled such a creature.... If comets were the inspiration for some dragons, it could help explain why dragons are ubiquitous in the myths and legends of so many different cultures in all corners of the world (2007).
Which one looks more like a dragon to you?
A comet? The litany of dragon legends around the world are indebted to comets for their existence? Such an explanation borders on the ridiculous. Suggesting that small lizards were the inspiration for one of man’s most dreaded, worldwide foes seems equally absurd. Pythons and certain alligators certainly can be frightening, and undoubtedly were considered formidable foes, but they simply do not fit the characteristics of many of the dragons described throughout history. Though komodo dragons are intimidating creatures, even Than admitted the unlikelihood of them being the inspiration of European dragons since “Europeans didn’t discover them until 1910” (2007).
Surprisingly, Than acknowledged:
Of all the creatures that ever lived, pterosaurs probably most closely resemble the dragons of European legend. Reptilian and featherless, pterosaurs flew on wings of hide that were supported by a single long and boney finger. The smallest pterosaur was the size of a sparrow, while Quetzalcoatlus—named after the Aztec god—had a wingspan of more than 40 feet, making it the largest flying creature ever (2007, emp. added).
Indeed, extinct, dinosaur-like flying reptiles (e.g., Quetzalcoatlus, Rhamphorhynchus, and Pterodactyl) with two legs, large wingspans, claws, slender tails, and toothed beaks more closely resemble many dragons, by a considerable margin, than any animal alive today. One wonders how Than could make such a statement and still list pterosaurs as number three on his top ten list of what gave rise to dragon legends.
With scaly skin, serrated teeth, and sharp claws, Allosaurus certainly fits some dragon descriptions.
Could dinosaurs or dinosaur-like marine or flying reptiles really be the inspiration for dragon legends? Although Carl Lindall believes that the animals which inspired dragon legends “did not really exist,” he confessed that “dragons of legend are strangely like actual creatures that have lived in the past.... They are much like the great reptiles which inhabited the earth long before man is supposed to have appeared on Earth” (1996, 5:265, emp. added). The New Encyclopedia Britannica referred to dinosaurs as “gigantic, prehistoric, dragon-like reptiles,” yet the encyclopedia was careful to say that dragon legends “apparently arose without the slightest knowledge” of these real animals “on the part of the ancients” (“Dragon,” 1997, 4:209, emp. added).
Dragons and dinosaurs also gave Daniel Cohen difficulty. He admitted what so many people know all too well:
No creature that ever lived looked more like dragons than dinosaurs. Like the dragons, dinosaurs were huge reptiles. Dinosaurs themselves didn’t fly, but at the time of the dinosaurs, there were a number of large flying reptiles.... It sounds as though the dragon legend could have begun with the dinosaurs. Through the ages, stories about dinosaurs would have been confused and exaggerated” (1975, pp. 104,106, emp. added).
In 2003, a nearly complete dinosaur skull was excavated in the Hell Creek Formation in South Dakota. The long, knobby, spiky skull appeared so similar to descriptions and paintings of certain “legendary” dragons, it actually was named Dracorex, meaning “dragon king” (see Bakker, et al., 2006). The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, which now possesses the skull, referred to it as “a new type of dinosaur” that is “66-million-years-old” and “looks like a dragon” (“Dracorex...,” n.d., emp. added). The Children’s Museum displayed a placard next to a Dracorex image that read: “When we saw this creature’s head, we weren’t sure what kind of dinosaur it was. Its spiky horns, bumps and long muzzle looked more like a dragon” (“Dracorex...,” n.d., emp. added). A dinosaur that looks more like a dragon? Interesting.
Used with permission from the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
Dr. Shuker also recognized that “[s]ome dragons were clearly inspired by real-life animals long familiar to the zoological world” (1995, p. 10). He later connected dragons with dinosaurs, saying, “There is no doubt that dragons and certain dinosaurs (especially some of the larger predatory types) do exhibit a surprising outward similarity (p. 93). The truth is, the only reason to reject what appears so obvious and be “surprised” about the similarities between dragons and dinosaurs, is if a person buys into the evolutionary timeline. Cohen confessed: “The problem is time. As far as we know, all the dinosaurs died out over 70 million years ago. That long ago, there were no people on the earth. So who could remember the dinosaurs?” (1975, p. 106).
Renowned atheist Carl Sagan speculated that humans may very well “remember” dinosaurs. He recognized the ubiquity of dragon legends and indicated that the “pervasiveness” of these stories “is probably no accident” (1977, p. 149). Interestingly, Sagan hypothesized that “dragons posed a problem for our protohuman ancestors of a few million years ago, and that the terror they evoked and the deaths they caused helped bring about the evolution of human intelligence” (p. 150). Sagan then specifically addressed dinosaurs and dragons. He wrote:
The most recent dinosaur fossil is dated at about sixty million years ago. The family of man (but not the genus Homo) is some tens of millions of years old. Could there have been manlike creatures who actually encountered Tyrannosaurus rex? Could there have been dinosaurs that escaped the extinctions in the late Cretaceous Period? Could the pervasive dreams and common fear of “monsters,” which children develop shortly after they are able to talk, be evolutionary vestiges of quite adaptive—baboonlike—responses to dragons and owls? (p. 151).
The spikes and horns of Euoplocephalus were very “dragonesque.”
Notice that even Carl Sagan, one of the foremost evolutionists of the 20th century, could not get around the fact that dragons sound eerily similar to dinosaurs. Such speculations on the origin of dragons would be meaningless unless one believed that dragons and dinosaurs appear to be one and the same. Still, the best explanation that Sagan could conjure up, while still holding onto some semblance of the evolutionary geologic timetable, is that our very early “baboonlike” ancestors encountered dinosaurs (who may have “escaped the extinctions in the late Cretaceous Period”) and passed their memories of them down to modern man. Once again, we find evolutionists’ explanations of dragon legends bizarre, irrational, and even laughable. If it were not for evolutionists’ commitment to their faulty billion-year timetable (see “The Geologic...,” 2003; see also DeYoung, 2005), it would appear they would have few problems accepting what is so obvious—that dinosaurs previously were called dragons, and humans once lived with them on Earth.
If dragons were dinosaurs, does that mean that dinosaurs breathed fire? After all, many dragon legends speak of these creatures expelling smoke and/or fire from their mouths. Even the Bible describes leviathan as a fire-breathing animal. Is this not as absurd as suggesting that our alleged animal ancestors passed down their memories of dinosaurs over tens of millions of years or that dragon legends originated from comets in outer space?
In his 1998 book, titled The Genesis Question, well-known progressive creationist Hugh Ross insisted that “[n]o dinosaur...ever breathed fire or smoke,” and he ridiculed the idea that leviathan was a dinosaur or dinosaur-like, aquatic creature that breathed fire (p. 48). (Ross chose rather to believe that the magnificent creature described by God in His second speech to Job was a crocodile; see Lyons, 2001 for a response to such a suggestion.) How can Ross or anyone else be so certain that “no dinosaur...ever breathed fire or smoke”? By Ross’s own candid admission, he has never seen a dinosaur (since he believes they became extinct 65+ million years ago; see pp. 48-49), and thus he obviously never has observed every dinosaur that walked on land (or dinosaur-like reptile that swam in the oceans). As Dr. Henry Morris remarked in his book, The Biblical Basis for Modern Science, “To say that the leviathan could not have breathed fire is to say much more than we know about leviathans (or water dragons or sea serpents)” (1984, p. 359, parenthetical item in orig.). The truth is, Ross and many others simply cannot fathom a real animal with the ability to produce fire and smoke. Is this reasonable?
Ross and others, it seems, have forgotten that all animals, including dinosaurs, were designed and created by God on days five and six of Creation. From the creationist’s perspective, if Jehovah wanted to create one or more dinosaurs that could expel fire, smoke, or some deadly chemical out of their mouths without harming themselves, He certainly could have done so. Bearing in mind the way in which God described leviathan to Job in Job 41:18-21, and considering that many secular stories that describe “fiery dragons” have circulated for millennia, it is logical to conclude that He did create such creatures. It seems fitting to ask doubters the same rhetorical question God asked Abraham long ago: “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14). Who is Hugh Ross (or anyone) to say that “no dinosaur...ever breathed fire”? The prophet Jeremiah proclaimed: “Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You” (32:17, emp. added).
What’s more, even modern science gives us a glimpse into the likelihood of an animal being able to do something as impressive as breathe fire. When a person considers that electric eels can produce enough electricity to stun a horse without ever shocking itself, that fireflies can make bioluminescent light, and that the Komodo dragon can store deadly bacteria inside its mouth (which only harms its prey, and never itself), it should be easy to accept the possibility that a dinosaur or a dinosaur-like reptile was capable of expelling certain hot, gaseous fumes that could ignite. Perhaps the closest living comparison to an extinct, fire-breathing animal is the little insect we call the bombardier beetle. One European encyclopedia described this creature as a “[b]eetle that emits an evil-smelling fluid from its abdomen, as a defence mechanism. This fluid rapidly evaporates into a gas, which appears like a minute jet of smoke, when in contact with air, and blinds the predator about to attack” (“Bombardier Beetle,” 2007). In 1985, TIME magazine featured this amazing creature, calling its defense system “extraordinarily intricate, a cross between tear gas and a tommy gun” (Angier, p. 70). How can one look at a living bombardier beetle that produces a boiling hot, acidic, noxious spray in its abdomen, which the insect then expels from its backend in a rapid-fire action, and conclude that no animal ever breathed fire or smoke?
Used with permission from Thomas Eisner
In reality, whether a person is a creationist or an evolutionist, he should have no problems believing in the possibility of an animal breathing fire. Surely creationists believe that an omniscient, omnipotent God could create a creature that expels fire from its body. And, if evolutionists believe (1) that the entire Universe came from the explosion of a period-size, dense ball of matter 15 billion years ago, (2) that life came from non-life, and (3) that the bombardier beetle evolved the capability to shoot a 212-degree, noxious spray from its backend, then one would think that for evolutionists to believe an animal evolved the ability to expel blasts of fire from its mouth would by no means be implausible.
Evolutionist Mark Norell admitted that “all the mythical creatures...have real underpinnings in biology” (as quoted in Hajela, 2007). What real animals prompted dragon legends? What rational explanation exists for the multitude of dragon legends around the world? Why did people in different places and times, separated by thousands of miles, all come up with stories of giant reptiles that sound more like extinct dinosaurs than any other animal on Earth? Why are descriptions of dinosaur-like aquatic, aerial, and terrestrial animals given in reputable, historical writings, including the Bible? Why does history record the existence of large reptilian creatures with serpentine necks, elongated bodies, enormous tails, hard skin, stout legs, spiked backs, knobby heads, terrible teeth, snake-like tongues, horned or crested heads, sharp claws, and membranous wings? Why are the physical characteristics of many dragons so similar to the anatomy of various dinosaurs? Is all of this just a coincidence?
Unfortunately, those who continue to sympathize with evolutionists’ billion-year timetable simply will not allow themselves to believe there actually is a connection between dinosaurs and dragons, even though it is readily apparent. Daniel Cohen admitted, “No creature that ever lived looked more like dragons than dinosaurs” (1975, p. 104). Yet, he went on to point out that since dinosaur fossils are supposedly millions of years old, “we have to assume that dinosaurs died out long before anyone could remember them.... [W]e must assume that dinosaurs have nothing to do with dragons” (pp. 106-107, emp. added). In truth, the problem is not with dragon legends and dinosaurs, but with the assumption-based, faulty dating methods of evolutionists (see DeYoung, 2005).
The elongated neck of Mamenchisaurus was characteristic of certain dragons.
The reasonable view is that humans and dinosaurs once lived together, and the stories of their interaction were passed down from generation to generation. When you think about it, this is exactly what we would expect to find (ubiquitous stories of “dragons”), if humans once lived with dinosaurs.
Although there are other powerful evidences of the one-time coexistence of dinosaurs and humans, dragon legends certainly bear witness to the fact that dinosaurs and humans once lived together. Truly, evolutionists cannot logically explain away these “dinosaur descriptions.”
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools (Romans 1:20-22, emp. added).
Angier, Natalie (1985), “Drafting the Bombardier Beetle,” TIME, February 25.
Bakker, Robert, et al. (2006), “Dracorex Hogwartsia, N. Gen., N. Sp., A Spiked, Flat-headed Pachycephalosaurid Dinosaur from the Upper Cretaceous Hell Creek Formation of South Dakota,” New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Bulletin 35, [On-line], URL: http://www.childrensmuseum.org/dinosphere/draco_rex/dracorex_hogwartsia.pdf.
“Bombardier Beetle” (2007), Research Machines Encyclopaedia, [On-line], URL: http://www.tiscali.co.uk/reference/encyclopaedia/hutchinson/m0063590.html.
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DeYoung, Don (2005), Thousands...Not Billions (Green Forest, AR: Master Books).
“Dracorex Hogwartsia” (no date), The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, [On-line], URL: http://www.childrensmuseum.org/dinosphere/draco_rex/index.html.
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Dragons: A Fantasy Made Real (2005), Animal Planet (Silver Spring, MD: Discovery Communications).
“The Geologic Timetable and the Age of the Earth” (2003), Apologetics Press, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/pdfs/courses_pdf/hsc0304.pdf.
Hajela, Deepti (2007), “Natural History Museum Show on Dragons,” Associated Press, May 25, [On-line], URL: http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/070526/entertainment/art_mythic _creatures.
Hogarth, Peter and Val Clery (1979), Dragons (New York: Viking Press).
Lindall, Carl (1996), “Dragon,” World Book Encyclopedia (Chicago, IL: World Book).
Lyons, Eric (2001), “Behemoth and Leviathan—Creatures of Controversy,” Reason & Revelation, 21:1-7, January, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/154.
Morris, Henry M. (1984), The Biblical Basis for Modern Science (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Ross, Hugh (1998), The Genesis Question (Colorado Springs, CO: Navpress).
Sagan, Carl (1977), The Dragons of Eden (New York: Random House).
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