Illustration of a winged, fire-breathing dragon by Friedrich Justin Bertuch from 1806
Qing-era carved imperial Chinese dragons at Nine-Dragon Wall, Beihai Park, Beijing
Dragon-shaped bows on ships in Ystad, Sweden resembling Viking longships

A dragon is a reptilian legendary creature that appears in the folklore of many cultures worldwide. Beliefs about dragons vary considerably through regions, but dragons in western cultures since the High Middle Ages have often been depicted as winged, horned, and capable of breathing fire. Dragons in eastern cultures are usually depicted as wingless, four-legged, serpentine creatures with above-average intelligence. Commonalities between dragons' traits are often a hybridization of feline, reptilian and avian features. Scholars believe huge extinct or migrating crocodiles bear the closest resemblance, especially when encountered in forested or swampy areas, and are most likely the template of modern Oriental dragon imagery.[1][2]

  1. ^ Stromberg, Joseph (23 January 2012). "Where Did Dragons Come From?". Smithsonian. Archived from the original on 4 October 2019. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  2. ^ "Archeologists Find Crocodile is Prototype of Dragon". People's Daily. 29 April 2000. Archived from the original on 2 September 2019. Retrieved 2 September 2019.