Dragon Evolution: a 10 year old’s perspective
My son, aged 10, recently wrote and illustrated this article about dragon evolution. Enjoy!
The very first dragon was called Draconodon. It was a small, four- legged creature with two wings. It was probably preyed on by larger, carnivorous dinosaurs and must have evolved wings to first jump higher, then glide, and finally fly. We do not know if it could have breathed fire.
Some Draconodons evolved into ferocious proto-dragons like Megadracosaurus and Dracosaurus rex. Megadracosaurus is thought to be a very large, predatory dragon which still had large wings but was so large and heavy that they were probably useless. It died out the same time as the dinosaurs. Dracosaurus rex is an early descendant of Draconodon. It is said to have been around three metres tall and preyed on early humans. Because they were so easy to catch its wings and arms shrank making it look rather like a T. Rex. When early man invented the spear they made short work of putting the species to extinction.
One group of Draconodon went to what is now Europe and evolved into what we call ‘Western Dragons’. They include Basalisks, Knuckers, dwarfs and the Occidentalis. The gargouille, frost, and European dragons evolved from the Occidentalis. Their build is much like Draconodons but varies throughout the species. Apart from the Knucker, which can’t breath fire, and the frost, which breaths a frosty blast, they can all breath fire. The Basilisk has a ‘shape-shifting’ ability much like that of an octopus to help blend into it’s surroundings and also has a very powerful hypnotic stare. European dragons are the largest of western dragons and are also very intelligent and most can talk in several languages. They love to hoard treasure.
They evolved marsupial traits and became what we now call the Tasmanian and marsupial dragons. Despite its name, marsupial dragons lay eggs and have their young crawl into the sack were the young grow into joeys. Tasmanian dragons are true marsupials though and are native to New Zealand. Sadly the Tasmanian dragons died out after their main food source, the Tasmanian emu, was brought to extinction. A few years earlier the Patagonian Marsupial dragon disappeared.
Recently, a group of scientists discovered fragments of a strange new ‘dinosaur’. It was two legged with wings, light bones, and had a long tail. They thought it could fly. But the most interesting thing about this creature was that it hollow fangs at the front, indicating it had venom. Dragons use venom to breath fire. Dragonologists now believe that it was the ancestor of African dragons and evolved just after the death of the dinosaurs.
It is not known why African dragons lost their front legs. Perhaps they were getting in the way, or they were too heavy. No one knows. They evolved into three species of dragon; the Wyvern, the Pygmy (which looked like a miniature Wyvern but was hunted to extinction), and the three headed Hydra. The Wyvern is the largest species of dragon, just metres shorter than the monstrous Megadracosaurus, and hunts elephants and other large african mammals. The Hydra is not to be confused with the scylla, or siamese twins or quadruplets. They can have 2-7 heads, but most have three. They are the only dragon species known that reproduces by splitting. This is shown on a panel at Abu Simbel, it shows a Hydra guarding a fallen head protectively. They live in Egypt and Arabia.
One dragon which evolved in the Cretaceous period was preyed on large carnivorous dinosaurs like T.Rex decided to burrow under ground to escape the larger predators. When it emerged in Asia at the time of early humans, it had lost its wings, back legs and the ability to breath fire. It was now long and snaky. We now call it the Lindworm.
In Asia the dragons grew long and snaky from life underwater. All but one lost their wings since they were a hinderance under water and grew feelers to help them find things deep down. Both genders evolved elaborate feathery manes for courtship displays. They became the Korean, Japanese, Indoneasean Lung. Another species but not strictly a lung called the Tibetan dragon lives high in the Himalayan mountains. Chinese lung are the most intelligent species of dragon. The Indonesian dragon kept its wings but practically regrew them in feathery style. Indonesian dragons can ‘run’ on water. We call them ‘Eastern Dragons’.
In America the dragons climbed up trees and used their wings to glide and killed their prey by constriction. To make it easier, they grew longer and more serpentine. They then started coiling around trees to climb them, and their legs got in the way. Since they could climb with their coils, slither quickly like a snake and caught their prey by constriction, there was no reason to keep their legs so they slowly became vestigial and then their legs disappeared from sight. Eventually their wings grew big enough so they could use their coils to launch into the air without having to jump off a tree.
They are called the Mexican and North American Amphithere. Amphitheres have feathery manes, tails and wings.The Mexican ampithere was worshipped by the Aztecs as the god Quetzalcoatl. North American Amphitheres hunt buffalo. They are nick-named ‘Moth Dragons’ because they are attracted to campfires.
Deep in the South American jungles lives the rare and mysterious Incognito, it is thought to be related to the Ampithere but still has its strong back legs. Apart from the Basilisk it is the only dragon thought to be a chameleon and due to that fact only a few people have ever seen it. Hardly anything is known about it.
Dragon’s bones are very thin and hollow so that they are light enough to fly. This means that their bones decompose quickly. During the ice age many dragon eggs got cold and this deformed them, since their eggs have to be kept at high temperatures. Also, those dragons that moved south found islands that only existed because all the water had been frozen in the northern glaciers. When the ice age ended many of the dragons up north had died because of the cold and huge sea level rises swallowed up most of the islands that the dragons had nested on. By then dragons had became very rare. Things did not get better for dragons when a new predator, man arrived.
For western dragons humans were a nemesis. They stole their eggs, and decided to kill the dragons to take their horns and scales and boast of their feats. The dragons then came up with what they thought was a very clever plan. They searched for all the hardest gemstones they could find and gather them together in a huge hoard. They then slept on this. When a knight arrived to try and kill a dragon their spears and swords bounced off the dragon’s jewel armour. Unfortunately, the dragon’s plan backfired. The knights were convinced that the dragons were greedy demons and that they had to ‘take back was rightfully theirs’.
In France the gargouille evolved a very clever method of hiding. They stood so still that people mistook them for common gargoyles. Over the years they perfected this ability until even their breathing is invisible. They can even sleep while doing this and some have chips in their horns and claws. Unfortunately they cannot mate and care for young like this so they have become rarer and rarer.
In India another dragon evolved a similar style of hiding. It was called the ‘Ascetic Dragon’. It hunted around ancient temples looking for its prey. Its survival strategy involved perching on a broken pillar and remaining stone-still and not eating when doing this. Unfortunately, when tourists arrived and the danger never went they starved to death.
In Mexico things went better for the amphitheres. The Aztecs worshipped them and left them food but when the dragon-killing, Spanish Europeans arrived they decided to shoot the dragons so the dragons flew away. Although, they still located their lairs near the massive Aztec pyramids.
In Asia the humans treated the dragons with proper respect. They built high mountain temples and lakes and gardens for them to live in. Only some very select and important people called ‘Dragon Monks’ were allowed to converse with and go near the dragons. They cooked elaborate meals for the dragons and brought scrolls for the dragons to read. When humans invented guns the dragons decided to withdraw and make their existence a secret.
In 1281 King Edward I of England ordered the extermination of dragons. Several knights joined in and things started to look bad for dragons. The dragons in England were reduced to small numbers and the ones left migrated up to Scotland and burrowed in the deepest caves they could find and fell into deep slumber in an attempt to stay alive.