Last Word on Dragons

There be dragons among us, even though there is no such thing as a giant flying lizard that breathes fire, our world has plenty of real dragons, and some of these gorgeous magical creatures can fly.  The dragon is probably just an combination of our most basic primal fears living in our imaginations.  It has sinuous scaliness features like a snake, the wings of the eagle, and the jaws and claws of a big cat, which are all united together forming a fearsome beast in our brains.  Dragons are always thought to be reptilian, so our first thoughts are that they were once dinosaurs.  Before people had any knowledge of dinosaurs, when giant bones were occasionally unearthed around the globe, dragons became the logical choice for people to make sense out of this.  Stories about dragons first appeared in China and then in ancient Greece and finally the European dragons showed up.

Dragons are among the most popular and enduring of the world’s mythological creatures as they appear in many books, films and television shows.  Throughout history dragons were exotic animals that were useful and protective sometimes, while at other times they were harmful and dangerous.  Some dragons have wings; others don’t.  Some dragons would breathe fire and some lived in palaces under the ocean, while others could only be found in caves or lairs and inside mountains.  Children love to hear stories about the valiant knight who slew the fire-breathing dragon and then rode off with the beautiful princess to the castle, but the truth is that creatures like this never did inhabit the Earth..

When Christianity spread across the world, dragons took on a decidedly sinister interpretation, because they came to represent Satan.  Two great creatures are described by God in Job, the behemoth and the leviathan, and perhaps this is why Christians seem to believe in the literal existence of dragons.  The Leviathan monster which is described in detail in the Book of Job, chapter 41 seems to vividly depict a dragon explaining all the details.  “I will not fail to speak of Leviathan’s limbs, its strength and its graceful form. Who can strip off its outer coat?  Who can penetrate its double coat of armor?  Who dares open the doors of its mouth, ringed about with fearsome teeth?  Its back has rows of shields tightly sealed together; each is so close to the next that no air can pass between.  They are joined fast to one another; they cling together and cannot be parted.  Its snorting throws out flashes of light; its eyes are like the rays of dawn.  Flames stream from its mouth; sparks of fire shoot out.  Smoke pours from its nostrils as from a boiling pot over burning reeds.  Its breath sets coals ablaze, and flames dart from its mouth.”

The Komodo dragon is a supersize reptile with a nasty bite.  They can weigh over 300 pounds and grow to be over 9 feet long making them world’s biggest lizards.  They kill their prey with a combination of nasty venom and lacerating razor-sharp teeth that dispatch that venom speedily into their victim’s flesh.  The adult Komodo dragons are known to eat the juveniles, so very few youngsters venture out into the open.

The dragonsnake Xenodermus javanicus is an interesting snake in that it is the only snake in its genus. This snake is also called a mud snake, and rough-backed litter snake.  The snake is considered to be rare and is not widely kept as a pet, because it does not survive in captivity.  It is a nocturnal snake and feeds exclusively on frogs.

The Bearded dragons known as beardies, are popular as pets, because they are social, easy to tame and handle, and they show a range of fascinating behaviors that make them interesting to watch.  They are moderately sized lizards native to Australia and they come in many different sizes and colors.  There are 9 different species of bearded dragons and many breeders have been able to breed dragons in a variety of unique color patterns.

Dragonflies belong to the Odonata (an order of carnivorous insects), and they are one of the oldest insects that are still around today.  They have not changed much from their ancestors and all Odonata share some similar characteristics in vision, life cycle, habitat, morphology flight, hunting prey and mating.  Dragonflies feature slender abdomens and middle sections, broad wings, and these beautiful insects are excellent fliers.  They soar and swoop, dip and jerk at incredible angles, smack the water to grab an insect, and even rise vertically like a helicopter.  The world’s largest are the Australian Giant Petaltail dragonfly which has a wingspan of about 6.5 inches and the Giant Hawaiian Dragonfly that some claim can have a wingspan of 7.5 inches.  There is also a damselfly which belongs to the dragonfly family (Odonata) that is also a big one, as the Central American Damselfly can have a wingspan of about 7.5 inches.  The black petaltail dragonfly (Tanypteryx hageni) is a member of a dragonfly family that predated the dinosaurs.  This enigmatic and rare insect has a narrow black body slightly more than two inches in length, with yellow dots on its head and body.  If you sit quietly on a vegetated bank of almost any pond or wet area during the hottest part of a sunny summer day, you will most likely be able to see a host of dragonflies.

Dragonets are small, perciform (most numerous order of vertebrates, containing about 41% of all bony fish), marine fish of the diverse family Callionymidae (warm-water shallow-water bottom-dweller fish) found mainly in the tropical waters of the western Indo-Pacific.  They are vibrantly colored and slow-moving, which makes them interesting for the marine aquarium, but they are hard to keep unless you are an experienced hobbyist.  They have long, scale-less bodies which are adorned with intricate patterns.

The Shocking pink dragon millipede arthropod defends itself by producing cyanide.  Dragon millipedes are members of the Desmoxytes genus, which currently contains 33 species ranging from northern China, through Indochina and south through Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and southern Malaysia.  Their peculiar-looking spiky appendages and often brightly colored bodies, makes the dragon millipedes look like characters from an extra-terrestrial horror movie.

Flying dragon lizards of Southeast Asia and India are quite well camouflaged, until they spread their wings.  Flying dragons glide through the treetops using their colorful patagia (membrane or fold of skin between the forelimbs and hind limbs), wing-like structures.  Their wings are supported by their ribs and they can glide half the length of a football field and still be able to swoop in for a perfect landing.  They fly to commute and escape predators, and their patagia also helps the male flying dragons reptiles show off to females during courtship displays.

The black dragonfish Idiacanthus atlanticus is a rather strange-looking, long and slender fish that lives in the mesopelagic (layer of the ocean, a few hundred meters below the surface, where little light penetrates) and bathypelagic waters of the world’s oceans, typically being found at depths of between 5000-7000 feet. Among the species more notable qualities are its distinct looking long fang-like teeth, its bioluminescence, it’s bizarre method of sexual reproduction, and its method of hunting.  In its larval stage, the female black dragonfish has eyestalks that can reach half its body length and allow her to see farther in the deep.  As she grows, her eyes recede, and she blossoms huge teeth, featuring rows of light-producing organs lining the body; and a barbel, a whisker-like chin projection.  The males, in comparison, are tiny and toothless, living only long enough to mate.

The Blue dragon nudibranch (soft-bodied, marine gastropod mollusc or sea slug) is gorgeous at just 2.3 inches long and it is packed with surprises.  They spend their lives floating on the ocean surface upside-down, and swallow air to help them stay afloat.  The blue dragon is known to steal stinging cells, called nematocysts, from the Portuguese man-of-war jelly fish, and store them in specialized organs in the tips of their cerata (dorsal and lateral outgrowths on the upper surfaces), or wings and if they are threatened by a predator, they will discharge the stinging cells.

The Ruby Seadragon uses its red color as a camouflaging tactic at certain depths, because red is the first color of the spectrum that gets filtered out underwater, so these fish appear black, which helps them hide from predators.  Their masquerade is likely why they don’t have the same leaf-shaped camouflage appendages the leafy seadragon and common or weedy seadragon blend in.  Also unlike their cousins, ruby seadragon males carry their babies, but under their tails, not in their bellies.

9 thoughts on “Last Word on Dragons

    1. I was in too much of a rush to include any pictures and these dragons are wonderful, so one day I will go back to this post and remedy that. Thanks for your wonderful comment.


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