Who never heard of dragons? Everyone knows these mythical creatures. Comics, novels, and movies featuring dragons are everywhere. But dragons seem to vary from one lore to another. Western and Eastern dragons are different in appearance too. Just how many dragons are there in the wild?
The World of Dragons
Asian or Eastern Dragons are snake-like creatures with four legs and usually green in color. If you’ve seen Shen Long from Dragon Ball or Kaidou’s dragon form from the One Piece manga, that’s pretty much sums up what Asian dragons look like.
Despite their lack of wings, Asian dragons have no problem roaming the sky. It is said that their ability to fly is due to their supernatural powers. That’s why the absence of wings never hinders their ability to zoom about the mountains and clouds.
The history of Asian Dragons goes way back more than four millennia ago. Throughout the ages, many Asian cultures revered dragons as gods. They’re also known as symbols of power and strength. It’s no wonder Chinese Dynasties often relate themselves with dragons as a mean to validate their ruling power.
Traditional illustrations of dragons in many European cultures depicted dragons as winged lizards. Unlike Asian dragons, Western dragons have four legs and a pair of wings. That’s a total of six limbs like the Pegasus.
The description found in many European folklore and legends showed that dragons didn’t have such large wings as we often see today. Their small wings can barely allow them to fly. Upright dragons with large wings are actually a more modern depiction of dragons influenced by the knowledge of dinosaurs.
Game of Thrones’ Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion are probably the most well-known of Wyverns these days. Wyverns are pretty much like western dragons but they only have two hind legs as their front ones are replaced by wings. Their tails often have diamond or arrow shapes.
In the past, European countries made no distinction between Wyverns and Dragons. They’re both considered winged snake in many cultures. In modern fiction, however, the distinction is more prominent.
Just like dragons, Wyverns not only hold their place in lore. Many royal families depicted Wyverns on their family crests and emblems. These days, Wyverns are more popular as mascots for sports teams, especially in the UK and US.
Yes, the Hydra is a dragon too – a gigantic water dragon to be more precise. According to Greek mythology, Hydra was the child of Typhon (the youngest son of Gaea) and Echidna (a half woman and half serpent monster).
As told in the legends, Hercules slew the Hydra to fulfill the 12 tasks given as a penance for his crimes. It was no easy feat since the creature had nine heads. Cutting off the heads proved futile, as two heads would emerge as soon as one is cut off. Nothing can bring harm to the dragon as long as its one immortal head remained intact. It took Hercules and his nephew Iolaus all they had to bring the Hydra down.
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