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Did Dragons Exist?

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Did dragons ever exist? Or is that idea too ridiculous for “real” science?

Old-earthers usually laugh in response to young-earth creationists’ argument that dinosaurs lived alongside man. Add in the claim that dragons are mankind’s distorted recollections of dinosaurs, and the laughs only get louder. But a recent Popular Science article, written from an evolutionary point of view, implicitly acknowledges that most dragon biology is “real world”—albeit, not found together in a single creature. But “most classic dragon characteristics do exist in other species,” writes Bjorn Carey.

Most cultures have legends of dragon encounters.

For example, dragon-style wings were found on pterosaurs, according to American Museum of Natural History paleontologist Jack Conrad: “Quetzalcoatlus had a 30-foot wingspan. That would do the trick.” And a large wingspan would be required, since dragons are purported to have a thick “armor” of skin—perhaps like an alligator’s, Conrad suggests. Alligator skin includes bony plates, making it tough enough to repel musket balls, Carey notes. Additionally, fire-breathing isn’t found in nature today, but Carey points out that “there are some beetles that can shoot caustic chemicals from their abdomen that can burn people’s skin, so it’s not totally out of the question that some animal at some point in time could make a flammable liquid.”

Carey does not mention the creationist explanation for dragon legends, but this is no surprise. Starting with Scripture, we see that land animals—including dinosaurs—were created on the same day of Creation Week as man. Beyond that, the fossil record, which for the most part records the organisms living at the time of the Flood, includes dinosaur fossils. Therefore young-earth creationists deduce that humans lived on the earth during dinosaur days.

But what of dragons? Some versions of the Bible include numerous mentions of “dragons” (although other versions use different words), and most cultures have legends of dragon encounters. What’s more, these stories of dragons portray them as creatures quite like dinosaurs—even though the modern idea of the “dinosaur” did not appear until the nineteenth century. Evolutionists would have us believe it’s all an uncanny coincidence, but for creationists, the logic fits quite nicely: dragons were dinosaurs (and/or other dinosaur-like reptiles). Nevertheless, some aspects of dragon tales have likely become distorted with time. For example, dragons are sometimes pictured as having four limbs and two wings, which does not fit with any historical evidence for ancient reptiles. “It seems that six appendages are very unlikely in vertebrates,” Conrad said.

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