Italian river Dragon of 1484
In the year 1484 in a river in Italy a large Dragon was said to live and occasionally eat humans, especially women who went to bathe alone or wash clothes in the river. The Dragon is said to be built like a fish, with "wings" (flippers), a large head and a "beard". This description seems to fit with animals known as Pliosaurs, water dwelling ancient marine reptiles that are said to have lived with the Dinosaurs. Pliosaurs are technically not Dinosaurs since animals classified as Dinosaurs only live on land by definition, but such semantics make up Taxonomy, the classification of organisms.
The original description lists not only the creature, but how it was killed by 6 village women.
"There was found within a great river [i.e. the Po in Italy] a monster marine, or of the sea, of the form or likeness which followeth. He had the form or making of a fish, the which part was in two halves, that is to wit double. He had a great beard and he had two wonderfully great horns above his ears. Also he had great paps and a wonderfully great and horrible mouth. And at the both [of] his elbows he had wings right broad and great of fish's armour wherewith he swimmed and only he had but the head out of the water. It happed then that many women laundered and washed at the port or haven of the said river [where] that this horrible and fearful beast was, [who] for lack or default of meat came swimming toward the said women. Of the which he took one by the hand and supposed to have drawn her into the water. But she was strong and well advised and resisted against the said monster. And as she defended herself, she began to cry with an high voice, "Help, help!" To the which came running five women which by hurling and drawing of stones, killed and slew the said monster, for he was come too far within the sound, wherefore he might not return to the deep water. And after, when he rendered his spirit, he made a right little cry. He was of great corpulence more than any man's body. And yet, saith Poge [Pogius Bracciolini of Florence] in this manner, that he, being at Ferrara, he saw the said monster and saith yet that the young children were accustomed for to go bathe and wash them within the said river, but they came not all again. Wherefore the women [neither] washed nor laundered their clothes at the said port, for the folk presumed and supposed that the monster killed the young children which were drowned."
Some may say that it would be impossible for some villager women to stone a giant Pliosaur such as Kronosaurus to death with river rocks, yet from the details of the account it seems likely that the creature was not a fully grown specimen, but a juvenile. The story states that the creature beached itself and had trouble pulling a woman into the water. Even a half grown specimen could have easily pulled an adult human into the water from shore since these were heavily built animals with strong, crocodile-like jaws. Needless to say an adult of 30+ feet could make short work of a small peasant girl/woman of less than 200 lbs. While the Dragon was beached and trying to pull the woman into the river, 5 more women heard her screams and came to her rescue by pelting the animal with stones. Since the creature was beached from trying to get the woman, it could not dive back into the water to escape and was stoned to death.
It certainly sounds like a far fetched fairytale to many people, especially those who believe that Dinosaurs and their relatives such as Pliosaurs died out tens of millions of years ago like the Theory of Evolution states. But for those who do not believe that the Evolutionary version of history is accurate and subscribe to Biblical history, it is much easier to believe since the Bible states that God created all organisms in 6 days, meaning that Dinosaurs had to have lived with human beings since since the first day human beings existed on Earth.
The Dragon of Henham.
The Dragon of Henham, also known as the Dragon of Henham on the Hill since the town of Henham is located on top of a hill, is the name given to a large reptilian animal sighted around the town of Henham between 1668-1669 A.D. In 1669 a pamphlet was circulated in Essex, England detailing sightings of the animal. The town is located several miles south of another historic town named Walden Saffron where another flying reptile was killed. Despite the attempts of many local people to kill the dragon no one ever did and the creature eventually disappeared. The pamphlet gives further details on sightings and the creatures description.
"The place of his abode and where he hath been oftentimes seen, is called Henham, but most commonly Henham on the Mount, the town standing upon a hill, having many fair farms and granges belonging to it, in one of which named The Lodge, near to a wood called Birch-wood, by reason of the many birches growing there, in a pasture-ground close by the same, hath this monstrous serpent been often seen as he hath lain upon the sides of a bank, beaking and stretching himself out upon the same, at such time as Sol did parch the earth with his resulgent beams.
The first time that he was seen was about the 27 or 28 of May last, a gentleman’s way lying by the place where this serpent keeps his station, as he rid carefully on, expecting to receive no hurt as he intended none, on a sudden this Serpent assailed his horse, affrighting the rider so much with his monstrous proportion and bold courage to give such an onset, that all in a maze he spurred his horse, who almost as much afraid as his master, with winged speed hafted away, glad that they had escaped such an eminent danger.
Being come home he acquaints his friends and neighbours with what he had seen of this monstrous serpent, especially makes it known to a neighbour in whose grounds this serpent doth lurk, wishing him to beware of his cattle, and to use his best indeavour for destroying it, least by protraction of time it might do much mischief when had I wist would be but small comfort to him for the losses he might sustain.
Not long after two men of the same parish walking that way, espied this serpent as he lay on a hillock beaking himself again in the sun, where they beheld his full proportion, being as near as they could guess 8 or 9 foot long, the smallest part of him about the bigness of a man's leg, on the middle as big as a man's thigh, his eyes were very large and piercing, about the bigness of a sheep’s eye, in his mouth he had two row of teeth which appeared to their sight very white and sharp, and on his back he had two wings indifferent large, but not proportionable to the rest of his body, they judging them not to be above two handfuls long, and when spreaded, not to extend from the top of one wing to the utmost end of the other above two foot at the moll, and therefore altogether too weak to carry such an unwieldy body. These men though armed with clubs and staves, yet durst not approach to strike this serpent, neither it seems was the serpent afraid of them, for railing himself upon his breast about the heighth of two foot, he stood looking on them as daring them to the encounter..."
There have been criticisms about the story that were brougth forward in the 1990's by Alison Barnes in a booklet of her own entitled
'The Ingenious William Winstanley' - poet, journalist, bookseller, historian and novelist of nearby Saffron Walden and Quendon - 1628 - 1698.
In it she asserts that William Winstanley perpetrated the dragon story as a hoax and even claims that he sold the pamphlet in his shop. However there is little to no evidnence for these claims and they should be taken with a grain of salt. The best claims against this story are the description of the dragons wings. It is said that the creatures wings are too small to possibly be used in flight and as such, an animal with useless wings would not be a real animal. While we never know what the creature really was or if it was indeed a real event. However a flying dragon is by no means a myth in many other historical accounts so it would not be a stretch for it to be a real animal in this account either. Indeed many flying dragons bear a remarkable resemblance to Pterosaur species'.
The Dragon of St. Leonard's Forest
In the year of 1614 in Sussex, England in a forested area known as St. Leonards Forest a dragon was spotted roaming the area many times. So much so that a booklet was sent out describing the creature. The booklet mentioned speculations about supernatural attributes of the animal but also listed clear and realistic descriptions of another dragon slain in the area before by St. Leonard. However even though St. Leonard was supposed to have slain the last dragon in England, they were still around later which is why the booklet was sent out. The booklet referred to several old accounts of Dragons.
Th dragon was described as such:
"This serpent (or dragon as some call it) is reputed to be nine feete, or rather more, in length, and shaped almost in the form of an axletree of a cart: a quantitie of thickness in the middest, and somewhat smaller at both endes. The former part, which he shootes forth as a necke, is supposed to be an elle [3 ft 9 ins or 1 l4 cms] long; with a white ring, as it were, of scales about it. The scales along his back seem to be blackish, and so much as is discovered under his belie, appeareth to be red... it is likewise discovered to have large feete, but the eye may there be deceived, for some suppose that serpents have no feete ... [The dragon] rids away (as we call it) as fast as a man can run. His food [rabbits] is thought to be; for the most part, in a conie-warren, which he much frequents ...There are likewise upon either side of him discovered two great bunches so big as a large foote-ball, and (as some thinke) will in time grow to wings, but God, I hope, will (to defend the poor people in the neighbourhood) that he shall be destroyed before he grows to fledge."
The dragon was certainly believed to be a real, flesh and blood animal and not a mere mythical beast. The measurements of the animal are given, as are the colors of it's scales. The booklet even says the dragon has feet but mentions that some serpents don't, this likely refers to snakes, not dragons.
In the late middle ages the town of Nerluc, France was reportedly terrorized by a dragon named Tarasque. The animal was said to be bigger than an Ox, had a man or lions head, a tail ending with a stinger, 6 short legs, and a large spiky shell like a turtle. The Tarasque was said to live in or near a lake nearby the town and periodically came close to the town where it caused much trouble for the people and reportedly ate some villagers.
The king of Nerluc attacked Tarasque with his knights and catapults on many occasions but the attacks did not kill or ward off the beast. Nothing would prevail against the dragon until Saint Martha came along and charmed the beast with hymns and prayers ( many European dragon stories have strong Christian implications and overtones) and led the Tarasque back to the town. The people, fearing for their lives, descended upon the beast and killed it. Saint Martha, upset that the people had killed the creature, preached to the people and converted the town to Christianity. Sorry for killing the beast, the people renamed the town Tarascon in honor of the dragon.
The description of the Tarasque leads most to assume that it is a mythical beast invented by humans, especially since the story has strong Christian implications. However the religious implication of the story does not detract from the fact that it was treated as an actual and historical event by those that witnessed and recorded it.
*Statue of the Tarasque at king Rene's castle in Tarascon, France.
Despite being fanciful in description of the dragon and the religious overtone of the story, the evidence still suggests that this was an event that actually occurred. First, the Tarasque was considered a living flesh and blood animal that could be killed. Mythical beings are generally considered invincible versus human weapons. However the king of Nerluc sent no only his knights to slay the beast but also used catapults to hurl stones at the dragon. It does not make sense to lug out catapults to battle a dragon that isn't real, catapults are troublesome to move and man as well as the moving of the large stones used as ammo.
The physical description of the dragon of Nerluc, France is described somewhat unrealistically as having six legs, a lions head, a turtle shell and a tail like a scorpion, however based on historical interpretations it is highly likely that the Tarasque is based on a real animal however fanciful it may be in the legend. The description of six legs and a lions head can likely be attributed to the story being retold countless times with beast-like qualities added onto it. However the overall appearance seems to fit with a group of creatures that are believed to have become extinct long before humans are believed to have come into existence by many.
The description of the Tarasque as having a turtle shell covered in spikes and a long tail like a scorpion seems to point to a group of Dinosaurs known as Ankylosaurs. Dinosaurs that were quadrupedal (walked on four legs) and covered in armor with a tail made for defense. When the Tarsaque dragon is examined while forgiving the mythological accounts it understandably looks much like an Akylosaur Dinosaur. Ankylosaurs are a group of Dinosaurs of about a dozen species, they were herbivorous and heavily armored and many were around 20 or more feet in length. Many of them also had tails that ended in club-like ornaments they swung in defense.
It seems that the people of Nerluc, France were pestered by an Ankylosaur of some species that lived nearby and while it may not have eaten citizens it may very well have killed some in self defense. This sort of event is widely recorded in the history of many civilizations around the globe throughout history and just as this encounter there are many other with supernatural ties, however there are also many without them suggesting that with or without super-naturalism dragons were regarded as real animals and not merely mythical beasts even though sometimes they are represented less than fully accurately. As with most other dragons in history, it seems the Tarasque is based on a Dinosaur, even a specific species or family.
One of the most often portrayed types of Dragons is the Wyvern. Wyverns, unlike most Dragons, had wings and flew. And like most Dragons, they did not breathe fire(normally) but they were considered very formidable creatures. Wyverns were depicted in Bestiaries of Europe as evil creatures but were always considered real animals though often with some religious or otherwise supernatural context attached to them, however this is done with many animals throughout history, along with being depicted in a somewhat fantastic way until thoroughly proven and detailed scientifically. This can be easily seen by viewing old renditions of animals, one can see how up until about the 1800's all creatures were depicted much less accurately than today's artistic standards would dictate for a museum display. A 1700's drawing of Native Americans killing Alligators depicts the Alligators with cat-like ears.
The description and portrayal of Wyverns has led some Creationist researchers to speculate that Wyverns may very well have been Pterosaurs that were seen by people of the time and recorded in their history. Wyverns, just like Ramphorhyncoid Pterosaurs, have bumps along their back, long tails with a "barb" on the tip, featherless wings made of skin, beaks with sharp teeth, scales, and only two hind legs with sharp talons. This type of creature can be tracked through the history of many cultures from around the globe, although "true Wyverns" are such creatures that have a pair of wings, a pair of small legs, reptilian, a long tail usually with a "barb" or otherwise decoration on the tip, and reptilian head with skull adornment such as crest or horns and lives in Europe.
This painting is from Liber Floridus from 1448. It depicts Saint Michael and angels spearing a Wyvern to death. Wyverns were often associated with evil and the Devil just like many other reptilian animals such as snakes and crocodiles as well as other predatory animals.
The animal in the painting looks extremely close to many of the currently known fossils of Rhamphorhychus except for the excessive number of wing ribs and the strange "ears". Also the tip of the tail forks, whereas Pterosaur tails have a heart or leaf shaped object, though most flying dragons are always depicted with a design of some kind on their tail tips regardless of the individual design.Wyverns, like other dragons, were known as real animals to many people and were often referenced in literature and art. While many people believe that dragons were simply the results of the imagination of people, Dragons were treated as everyday animals that lived, bred, and could be killed, not mythical beasts or demons. To many, the accounts of Wyverns suggest that humans were seeing and reporting Pterosaurs. This theme can be traced through many cultures throughout the worlds' history.
These facts seem to support the Biblical account of history starting with Creation week, having God created all organisms, meaning humans and Pterosaurs lived together, along with Dinosaurs and giant Marine reptiles. Whereas the Evolutionary timeline states that no human could ever have seen a Pterosaur,Dinosaur or marine reptile since they should be separated by 65 million years minimum. If human beings saw living Pterosaurs, it would come as little surprise they would record them in their accounts and even give a name to such amazing creatures, and considering that the word "Wyvern" comes from the old French word "Viper", it looks as if not only were these animals real, reptilian creatures, but they were not known in a fond light.
While Pterosaurs are not actually classified as Dinosaurs since Dinosaurs by definition are land dwelling animals with certain physical attributes, they are normally portrayed and referenced either AS Dinosaurs, or alongside them. For this reason several kinds of Pterosaurs can be viewed in our section on Dinosaurs for anyone who wishes to compare and contrast Dinosaurs and Dragons.
Maud and the Wyvern.
It appears as the emblem of envy, insignia of war, personification of pestilence, representation of non-transmuted matter in alchemy, disguise of the devil and as a prevalent device in heraldry. Rarely, however, does it elicit emotions of friendship or love - which is why the medieval legend of the Mordiford wyvern is so unexpectedly poignant. Maud's parents had little objection to their young daughter owning a cat or dog - but they were more than a little perturbed by the creature that stood before them, small and colourful though it might be. Earlier that day, Maud had been walking through the woods near her home at Mordiford, in English county of Herefordshire, when she came upon a strange little animal looking forlorn and dejected. It was poking its snout listlessly a clumb of flowers, and was quite evidently lost.
The creature looked like a baby dragon: its body was no bigger than a cucumber and its bright green scales - sparkling like a shining peridots in the sunlight - made it appear even more like one as it squatted upon its single pair of legs. Every so often, it would open its fragile, membranous wings and flutter them hopefully, but it was clearly far too young to fly. As soon as it saw Maud, however, its sadness evaporated, and it began chasing merrily around her, frolicking with joy that it was no longer alone.
Maud was throughly enchanted by her unexpected playmate, and happily took it back home with her, convinced that her parent would share her delight in the tiny creature. But they recognized it as a wyvern (albeit a very young one), and their reaction was very different. In word that brooked no opposition, they insisted that she should take it back to where she had found it and leave it there. Steeling themselves to ignore her tearful protestations, they closed the cottage door behind her and watched, sadly but with great relief, as their daughter walked slowly back to the woods, followed by her strange little companion.
Once out of sight, howerver, Maud turned away from the main woodland path and ran instead toward her secret hidding place - a little nook known only to her, where she spent many happy hours concealed from the rest of the world. Here she placed her new-found pet, and here would remain, where she could visit it, play with it, and feed it every day, safe from the prying eyes of her parents and the other Mordiford folk.
As the months went by, howerver, Maud's pet grew even larger, and at a quite alarming rate. The cucumberlike youngster was maturing into an impressive adult wyvern, whose soft green scales had hardened into razorsharp discs of a deep iridescent tone, whose gossamer wings had become leathery and bat-like, and whose curly tail bore at its tip a deadly sting.
The saucers of milk brought to it everyday by the ever-faithful Maud, which had once satisfied its juvenile appetite, were no longer able to dispel her pet's pangs of ravenous hunger. And so it began to seek sustenance elsewhere. The local farming community soon suffered great losses of livestock, and it was not long before the culprit was unmasked. Maud's dragon had acquired a liking for the flesh of sheep and cows. But worse was to come. When some of the bolder farmers attempted to deal with the monster, it ably defended itself, and in so doing discovered another taste much to its liking - humans!
Maud was devastated by the actions of her former playmate, and begged it to end its murderous assaults upon the townfolk, but to no avail. Not even gentle rearing by a loving child could suppress indefinely the irascible and predatory insticts of a true dragon. With the advent of maturity, these had inevitably been unleased in a violent torrent of uncontrollable, primeval force. Just one person remained safe from the marauding wyvern - Maud, its early playmate and friend.
Not for her the flame and the fear, only the love that ever the heart of the most terrible dragon contains, but which is so rarely ignited by human. She alone could walk safely beside it, stroke its ebony claws and gaze without trepidation into its eyes of blazing chrysolite. Such is the power of friendship and love.
Neither of these, howerver, was sufficient to change to inevitable course that events were about to take. The wyvern's tyranny had to be countered if Mordiford's habitants were to survive. And so it was that one morning, a tall figure encased in armour and mounted upon a magnificent steed rode into the woods, with a sturdy lance grasped firmly in his hand.
A member of Mordiford's most illustrious family, the Garstons, he dismounted and courageously sought out his dreadful quarry. Suddenly, from amid a tangled mass of foliage, a massive green monster lunged forward; it scaly covering had imitated so intimately the leafy vegetation that it had been completely invisible as it lay in wait for its opponent.
Instinctively raising his shield, Garston deflected the great blast of fire that roared from the wyvern's gaping jaws, and aimed his lance at its thoat, distended from the force of its expulsion of flame. The lance pierced the monster's flesh, and an explosion of dark blood burst forth, staining the grass. Garston also carried a sharp sword, and was about to plunge it into the stricken creature's head when a young girl, screaming not in fear but in hysterical rage, ran out of some bushes and starled hurling stones at him. His horse reared up in alarm, but far more starling to Garston was the extraordinary sight of this same child, kneeling on the blood-soaked grass and weeping uncontrollably, with her arms around the neck of the dying wyvern.
Unnerved, and oddly perturbed by his success in slaying the huge dragon that had terrorized Mordiford for so long, Garston rode away, back to the joyful villagers - leaving behind a dead monster with its only friend, a girl called Maud for whom the innocence of childhood had come to a sudden and savagely premature end.
The legend of Maud and the Wyvern is an old account from England and is often referred to as The Dragon of Mordiford. The event took place in and around the village of Mordiford near Herefordshire, England. As the story goes, the young girl named Maud found a baby Wyvern, a type of dragon with only two legs and a pair of wings and a long tail, all by itself in the tall grass/flowers outside of Mordiford and essentially saves it's life since it's a baby all alone. After showing the animal to her parents, they ordered her to return it to where she found it and abandon it because it will become dangerous and a nuisance. While Maud returns the creature to the wilderness she doesn't abandon it, but keeps it in a safe hiding spot and feeds and nurtures it. As time goes on the Wyvern grows larger and develops a need for meat, at this point the now mature Wyvern begins to prey on nearby livestock and becomes a pain to the villagers who then seek to kill the creature. The people fail to kill the Wyvern and instill the help of a local man who is a member of the Garston family whom goes on the hunt for the dragon in full armor. He finds the Wyvern and after some battle spears the animal through the throat and leaves it to bleed to death. The young Maud is heartbroken at the killing of her pet that she weeps by it's side until it dies.
This story has many interesting points that stand out and bolster the claim that it was in fact an actual historic event. First, the Wyvern itself is described in a very realistic and down to Earth manner, just as one would describe any real animal. The Wyvern is a green/emerald color as are many reptiles. Just as well, many reptiles have a beautiful iridescence to their scales that make them have a shiny or rainbow appearance. Also, the creature is said to have a single pair of legs, thin membranous wings and a long tail with a barbed tip. When the Wyvern is mature it's wings are described as leathery. The animal is also said to have walked on it's wings and legs. It would seem from the descriptions of the animal that it was in fact a species of long tailed Pterosaur that the young girl found and raised. Though it may seem hard to believe by many, it is quite possible for a reptile to befriend and trust a human, many people that keep reptiles as pets have reported such a trusting behavior to either the owner or even all people in general from every class of reptiles be they snakes, turtles, lizards, or crocodilians, so it seems likely that a Pterosaur, raised from a very young age would develop the same type of relationship with a human. And as the story describes, once the Wyvern became older and mature it began to hunt for meat and even Maud could not stop it from taking animals for prey. This is another point that many reptile enthusiasts can confirm: You cannot take prey from a hungry reptile. Period. Once a carnivorous reptile has decided to consume meat or an animal for food, be it dead or alive, it is a Herculean task to prevent that animal from getting it's desired food. Just try and take a rat back from a python.
It is only after a deathblow that the Wyvern is stopped from killing the local livestock. And even though the story has several morals within, it is not a fantastical account and is told and described in a very realistic way. There are really very few things in the story that are out of the ordinary such as the one report of the Wyvern breathing fire and the belief that its tail is a poisonous barb, though both can probably be explained.
It appears that from the details of the story that the young girl found and raised a baby Pterosaur to maturity, at which point it began to hunt the local livestock for food and become a nuisance and as humans usually do when faced with an animal they fear or don't understand, they decide to kill it, much to grief of young Maud.
It is of note that continually mentioned in modern records and until 1811 a portrait of the Wyvern was on the wall of the main church of the village until a vicar ordered it to be removed due to the belief that dragons represented the devil.
The legend of Krakus and Smok.
Atop Wawel Hill on the Vistula River in Poland, there stands a beautiful, ancient castle and a Cathedral in which are buried many of the Kings of Poland. Below lies the ancient city of Krakow ( the original capital of Poland) home of Poland’s ancient glory and heroic deeds. But long, long ago, before the city of Krakow existed, before the castle and the cathedral, there existed a small settlement of peaceful people, who tilled the soil, harvested their crops and prospered. In the evening when work was done and the sun had gone to sleep, they would gather around fires and the old men would tell stories of an evil dragon who lived in a deep dark cave in the side of Wawel hill.
The entrance to the cave was overgrown with thick weeds and brambles and no one would dare venture near the cave lest they awaken the creature inside. No one, that is, accept five foolish youths, who disbelieved the older generation. They thought the old stories foolhardy and set out to prove them false.
Despite dire warnings from their elders, the young boys armed themselves with torches and flints and set out to climb the hill. They laboriously made there way through the thick brush and soon arrived at the mouth of a cavernous cave. Peering into the cave with their torches in hand, they could see nothing. They entered in and felt the presence of evil around them. The air was foul and the boys wanted to bolt and run, but not wishing to face the embarrassment of returning to their village in the state of fright, they pressed on. Advancing through the long, narrow cave, their torches threw hideous shadows against the wall of the cave. They could hear deep and regular breathing, but still they went on. Suddenly, they saw in front of them a huge heaving mass. It was covered with greenish scales and worse yet, it was awakening from its sleep!
Needless to say, the boys ran the fastest that they had ever run in their lives toward the entrance of the cave. Behind them they heard roaring and bellowing and they felt hot breath on their backs. They did not bother to turn and look, but rather, plunged down the side of the hill running, stumbling, and rolling until they reached the bottom. Only then did they look up to see a hideous dragon at the top of the hill with sharp teeth and evil flashing eyes.
The dragon made its way down the hill, and hungry from its long sleep, it went directly to a herd of grazing cattle and seized one of the hapless creatures and carried it back to its cave. The people were shocked and terrified and the boys slunk away, ashamed of what they had done.
From that day on there was no peace in the village. Daily, the dragon would appear to carry off a victim. Sometimes a sheep, or dreadfully, a child or even a grown man. The villagers called the hideous creature "Smok". Men banded together to try and slay the dragon, but their primitive weapons were no match for the thick scales of the dragon. Many men died in the attempt to rid the village of this terrible curse.
In the same village lived a wise man named Krakus. Some thought him something of a magician, for he would mix herbs to heal the sick. The villagers came to Krakus to ask for his help. Krakus thought for a long time, studying his jars of herbs and things, and all the while murmuring to himself. Then he started to mix up a paste. He summoned the villagers to bring a sheep to him. He covered the poor sheep with the unpleasant mixture and carrying it up the hill, threw the sheep inside the cave.
After several suspenseful moments, there came the sound of the great dragon roaring and bellowing its way down to the Vistula River. The mixture that the sheep had been coated with caused a great burning inside the dragon. It drank and drank until it began to swell. Some say it drank half of the Vistula River that day. Still it drank to quell the relentless burning in its gut. Suddenly, there was a great explosion and the dragon burst!
The people rejoiced at the demise of the fearsome creature. They were so impressed with the wisdom of Krakus that they invited him to rule over them. They built a stronghold at the top of the hill and below it, the city prospered under his rule. The city was named Krakow in honor of Krakus. When Krakus died the people gave him a magnificent burial, and erected a mound over his tomb, bringing the dirt with their own hands. It has endured throughout the centuries as a lasting monument to their wise and brave King.
The story of the Wawel dragon is a famous Polish legend, it is sometimes known as the Dragon of Krakow. As the story goes, the dragon lived in a cave under Wawel Hill in the early 8th century and ate many livestock and occasionally people. Eventually a man named Krakus poisoned the dragon with sulfur and killed the dragon and the city was renamed in his honor. The cave where the dragon lived is now a popular tourist attraction. With so much evidence surviving to this day, it seems as though this story was indeed based on a true event. The story doesn't explicitly say what the dragon looked like except it had green scales, sharp teeth, and bright eyes. This leaves us to speculate what type of animal it may have been but the reference to scales certainly means it was some type of large, carnivorous reptile, and judging from the many other dragon accounts in history, it may well have been a dinosaur.
Flying dragons in Europe.
Reliable witness reports of flying dragons (pterosaur-like creatures) in Europe are recorded around 1649. (Thorpe, B. Ed., The Anglo Saxon Chronicle, 1861, p.48.) The woods around Penllyn Castle, Glamorgan, had the reputation of being frequented by winged serpents, and these were the terror of old and young alike. An aged inhabitant of Penllyn, who died a few years ago, said that in his boyhood the winged serpents were described as very beautiful.
"They were coiled when in repose, and "looked as if they were covered with jewels of all sorts. Some of them had crests sparkling with all the colours of the rainbow". When disturbed they glided swiftly, "sparkling all over," to their hiding places. When angry, they "flew over people's heads, with outspread wings, bright, and sometimes with eyes too, like the feathers in a peacock's tail". He said it was "no old story invented to frighten children", but a real fact. His father and uncle had killed some of them, for they were as bad as foxes for poultry. The old man attributed the extinction of the winged serpents to the fact that they were "terrors in the farmyards and coverts.�" (Trevelyan, Marie, 1909, Folk-Lore and Folk Stories of Wales, 1909.)
In the Anglo-Saxon epic poem of Beowulf (AD 700-1000) a terrible and ferocious creature terrorizes the countryside of Heorot by killing and eating the people. The description of the Grendel is left for the most part, up to the reader but many agree that it seems to be some sort of dragon-like creature. Peter Dickinson (1979) argued that seeing as the considered distinction between man and beast at the time the poem was written was simply man's bipedalism the given description of Grendel being man-like does not necessarily imply that Grendel is meant to be humanoid, he even stated that Grendel could easily have been a bipedal dragon.
Heaney's translation of lines 1637–1639 also notes that his disembodied head is so large that it takes four men to transport it. Furthermore, in lines 983–89, when Grendel's torn arm is inspected, Heaney describes it as being covered in impenetrable scales and horny growths:
"Every nail, claw-scale and spur, every spike and welt on the hand of that heathen brute was like barbed steel. Everybody said there was no honed iron hard enoughto pierce him through, no time proofed blade that could cut his brutal blood caked claw".
The description of the Grendel in the preceding text seems to imply a bipedal dragon with a ferocious disposition, a love for eating flesh, small arms, scaly skin like armor, with big sharp teeth and claws, and immune to conventional weapons such as the sword and spear. On line 1639 the Grendels' head was so large it took four men to carry it back. On line 2079 it is said that Grendel is a "Muthbona", which literally means Mouth Bone, which alludes to the fact that Grendel killed with it's mouth/jaws which are said to have been so large they quickly gulped down prey, even humans. The name Grendill is an Old Norse word that donates the loud, low growl of a large monster, while the subsequent Middle English word grendel means angry.
Based on the descriptions given by the poem we can build a visual of what Grendel would have looked like and it's real identity. Based on it's physical aspects such as scales, a large head used to kill prey, claws and a taste for flesh driven by a fierce nature, the best candidate for it's identity becomes some sort of large reptilian beast known today as a dinosaur. What kind of dinosaur? The kind that is known for being a fierce meat eating predator, Theropods. The Grendel seems to have been some sort of Tyrannosaurid Theropod, the kind with large heads and puny arms, just as described in the poem. Some may note that a Tyrannosaurid such as Tyrannosaurus or Tarbosaurus would be much too large to fit the bill of the creature described in the story. While this is a fair criticism since these animals grew to sizes of over 40 feet long and a dozen feet tall, it can be inferred from the poem that Grendel may have been a juvenile specimen since it is smaller than a full sized Tyrannosaur and smaller than the creature said to be it's mother.
The story goes that Beowulf kills the Grendel by ripping off one of it's puny arms by situating himself underneath the creatures head, safely away from the one thing the creature could use to kill him. After ripping it's arm off, the Grendel retreats back to it's cave in the swamp and bleeds to death to later be found by Beowulf. It seems that this all too famous poetic story gives us a glimpse into the past when humans coexisted with Dinosaurs, something that the ancient records of nearly every culture in Earth's history attests to.
St. George slayed a dragon.
This painting seems to depict him fighting a pterosaur with its two feet, wings, long neck and tail and head ornamentation.
It has been found that in 17th century Germany, creatures matching the description of pterosaurs were associated with witchcraft and witches. Witches were accused of making houses spontaneously combust and many creatures during that time have been described as pterosaurs. The picture to the left shows pterosaur like creatures leaving the burning houses. They are depicted with long tails with a design on the tip, little or no feet and long "beaks". It is possible that what gives pterosaurs the ability to glow as reported in some tropical areas of the world, is capable of catching wooden houses on fire. This is only speculation however. In 1793 a government report stated the following:
"In the end of November and beginning of December last, many of the country people observed dragons appearing in the north and flying rapidly towards the east; from which they concluded, and their conjectures were right, that...boisterous weather would follow." ("Flying Dragons at Aberdeen," A Statistical Account of Scotland, 1793, p. 467.)
In December of 1691 a dragon was said to live in the wetlands near Rome. It lived in a cave and terrorized the locals, probably by feeding on livestock and the occasional child. the image shown is a sketching of the creatures skeleton. It clearly depicts a head crest, a long tail, 5 toes on each foot. The membranous wings are attached to the vertebrae in front of the legs and still have skin on them. It also clearly depicts the femur as one bone, and the fibula and tibia are shown accurately as well. The sketch is far too accurate to be a fake as some believe, and the presence of skin means that it is not a fossil.
Saxon Sea Dragons.
The Saxons of Sweden and Denmark were well acquainted with many animals and were well versed in the knowledgeable facts about such creatures. They also made clear distinctions between animals and mythical creatures. To the Saxons Dragons were very real creatures, they even categorized them in different classes according to their anatomy and habitats such as flying Dragons, land Dragons, and sea Dragons. There may have even been more than one type of sea Dragon known to the Saxon people since there was more than one name for such animals. These names include Wyrmeyennes, which means "Monstrous Seprents", Saedracan, which means "Sea Dragon", Nicor, which means "Water Monster", and Ythgewinnes which means "Wave Thrasher". These creatures were described and reported throughout Scandanavia and were even featured in the epic poem Beowulf where Beowulf himself killed several of these water dwelling Dragons.
In the epic poem of Beowulf all of these creatures are described and treated as real animals that terrorize people, mostly sailors, and eat humans, making many people afraid to travel near the swampy bodies of water or along the sea channels. The very first creature killed by Beowulf as listed in the poem was a Wyrmeynnes that Beowulf shot with an arrow and was then harpooned and dragged ashore and examined. After this, Beowulf proceeded to clear the sea lanes of other giant reptilian water monsters between Denmark and Sweden. In any case it is said that the Ythgewinnes swam at the surface while the Saedracans swam in the deep waters.
These water dwelling Dragons occurred worldwide and were known beyond the Saxons though they have certainly described these animals in detail and as real animals. In the poem of Beowulf it is said that these water Dragons could be seen basking on land and darted into the water when they became aware of human presence.
The Sea Dragons known to the Anglo Saxon people as "serpents" are said by many to simply be creatures of fantasy since after all, Dragons never existed. However many researchers will attest that if there is a legend, there is something that caused that legend, something that made the legend happen or start. While many say that they are fictional worm-like creatures or exaggerated snakes, these descriptions don't fully match up with the accounts given by the ancient Saxon people that convincingly say that they lived alongside these water Dragons.
If we are to believe that the Saxons lived alongside and saw these fearsome Dragons of the waters, we must identify what they could have been based on that we know actually lived. Worms don't get that large and don't come to the surface too often, nor do the worms that live in the sea terrorize people, let alone sailing ships full of vikings. They would probably be completely unaware of sea dwelling worms that stayed on the bottom scavenging. Also, any snakes the Vikings saw were likely never very large, there are only a few species of snakes in Denmark and both average about 2 feet long, one is the Common Grass Snake and the other is the Adder, a small venomous snake that is usually black or whitish and sometimes brown. It is highly doubtful that either of these animals inspired the stories of Sea Dragons living in the waters of Denmark and Sweden, especially at sea.
There are some known animals that fit the descriptions and size estimates of these Dragons but the problem is even though they are the best fit many people believe and say that they all lived and died over 60 million years ago, long before Saxon people could have ever seen them. These animals are often called "Dinosaurs" yet in reality they are not classified as Dinosaur since they didn't live on land. These animals are known as Plesiosaurs which include two groups each comprised of water dwelling reptiles known as Plesiosaurs and Pliosaurs. Plesiosaurs are well known to many people. They are characterized by their somewhat short tail, four flippers, and long neck with a snakelike head full of sharp, needle-esque teeth. Pliosaurs are somewhat less known and are characterized mostly by their short, thick necks and large crocodile style head. They also have four flippers and many, but not all have short tails, though some have long tails, like the Mosasaurus. Most researchers will not attribute these creatures to the stories of Sea Dragons since they are said to have died out with the Dinosaurs 65 million years ago. However many people do not believe that these animals died out long ago in "The Age of the Dinosaurs", but in fact have lived alongside mankind since the beggining of history as recorded in the book of Genesis in the Bible.
There are many reports and legends throughout history of Dragons living in waters all around the world, and many describe with surprising accuracy the anatomy of Plesiosaurs and Pliosaurs. If Dragons were in fact Dinosaurs, this obviously means that Dinosaurs have lived with humans at the same time in history. It also means that Dragons were real and Dinosaurs simply went by a different name for most of history. This begs the question, if Dinosaurs have lived alongside human beings during history, why is it portrayed on charts and in media and museums that human beings are only recent life forms in the long history of billion of years on this planet? Why are Dinosaurs shown living many millions of years before humans and before humans evolved onto the scene if we have historical evidence that the two interacted?
Lindworms, also known as Lindorms, are a well known Dragonic animal from Norwegian, Swedish and German tales. And while many people know them as limbless or only having two small arms and a snakelike body, Lindworms were actually the term used for several types of reptilian creatures, several of which appear quite similar to animals that many people know as "dinosaurs". The photo above of a Lindworm looks strikingly like a Theropod dinosaur, specifically a Ceratosaurus, except for the lack of a pair of small forearms. In Scandanavian the name Lindorm refers to any "serpent", usually a large snake. In Norwegian the term means "sea serpent". In normal usage, the name Lindworm was/is a synonym for the Latin word Draco, which refers to anything classified as a Dragon.
Out of the several types of creatures Lindworms are described as, 3 of them sound much like animals known commonly as "dinosaurs", or extinct reptiles of 3 different kinds if getting technical. The other creature is often described as a large snake (or possibly an Amphisbaenean". One type of Lindworm described has only two large legs, a tail, and a dragon-like head, and walk in a bipedal locomotion. This type sounds much like a Theropod Dinosaur and can be seen in the profile picture in this article.
Another type of Lindworm creature is described as a large snake-like animal that lives in the water. This type of Lindworm may be a Plesiosaur, a type of aquatic giant reptile with a long "snake-like" neck and small snake or lizard-like head. These creatures were often large and certainly would have been fierce if they felt threatened.
Another type of Lindworm is said to have a pair of wings and two or no feet. This type of Lindworm may have been a Pterosaur. Pterosaurs and Plesiosaurs are actually not Dinosaurs but are lumped together and are believed to have all lived together during the "Age of the Dinosaurs". Pterosaurs, also more commonly known as Pterodactyls, can be traced through much of history as flying dragons by many names.
One other form of Lindworms is simply a large quadrupedal reptile with four legs and no wings. These may simply have been escaped animals from the menageries often kept by wealthy people. These collections were like private zoos and were comprised of not only specimens of wild native animals, but many animals from far off places that were brought back or acquired as gifts from other wealthy (often royal) people. It is possible that the latter type of Lindworms were escaped specimens of crocodiles or large monitor lizards from such menageries. Such cases have in fact been documented but obviously can never account for all the sightings of dragons throughout history.
Lindworms are often said to have a poisonous bite, a trait that is sometimes seen in reports of dragons. This may mean that some "Dinosaurs" had venomous or infectious bites, or maybe the Lindworms that these associations come from were large monitor lizards that escaped. Monitor lizards are well known for terribly infectious bites and is how some of them such as Komodo Dragons kill their prey.
Lindworms are often synonymous with Knucker's or Tatzelwurms and may actually all be the same creatures depending on the individual descriptions.