What Is A Dragon?
Of all mythical creatures, the Dragon is possibly the most known and most misunderstood. A dragon is often depicted as a huge reptilian creature with wings and supernatural abilities. Dragons are possibly the most complex creatures of myth and legend, having many different species, forms, traits, colors and powers. They are the most known creature throughout the world which often poses the question, "Are dragons real"?
Written records of dragons go back as far as Ancient Mesopotamia. Though the word dragon only dates back to ancient Greece. Prior dragons were known as monsters and can only presently be deemed dragons due to similar physiological, supernatural and psychological similarities. Throughout history the story lines were often the same or similar; dragons either guarded treasure, dispensed knowledge, terrorized humans or helped humans. With similar stories spread all across the earth in countries quite disconnected from one another, it makes you wonder if they are in fact real. One thing to remember is that up until recent centuries dragons were real for most of humankind.
Major Traits of Dragons
All Dragons share at least some of the major traits of dragons, depending on which culture one is discussing. These are the most commonly found traits;
- Reptilian Characteristics: Most Dragons have a reptilian characteristic whether it be scales, snake-tails or so on. Dragons such as wyrms even take on a snake-like body.
- Flight: Many Dragons had, have or will obtain the ability to achieve flight. This is especially true in folklore from the British Isles. A Dragon does not necessarily need wings to achieve flight. This ability also depends on the age of the Dragon.
- Elemental Connection: It is not unusual for dragons to have an elemental connection. Their color often represents the specific element they are connected with. In many myths Dragons often cause storms and other elemental disturbances.
- Supernatural Abilities: Most Dragons have some supernatural ability. For example, silver, black and gold dragons often possess magical abilities. Silver and Gold dragons also had the ability to predict the future. Wyrms are able to achieve flight through magic rather than through their physiology.
- Natural Weaponry and Armor: All dragons had natural defensive and offensive physiological traits. Dragon scales were natural plate armor, which lead to the creation of dragon plate armor used in human defensive technology. All dragons also had natural offensive weaponry in the form of talons, occasionally their tales and the ability to breath certain elements, such as fire or ice. Though the ability to breath certain elements depended highly upon age and type.
- Reproductive Patterns: When mating, all dragons would fly to immense heights. Once high altitudes were achieved they'd lock talons and perform a spectacular free-fall and commence with the mating. Dragonesses tended to lay anywhere from 5 to 6+ eggs, depending on how fertile they were. The gender of their offspring were dependent upon the temperature the eggs were kept in. If the temperature was high, this created a male. If they were low, this created a female.
- Psychological Traits: All Dragons shared similar Psychological traits with each other, though some personalities depended upon the Age and color of a dragon. Some traits that they all share are: intelligence and wisdom superior to any animal, cunning, a love of gems and precious items, riddles, a playful nature, and serious pride and sensitivity to ridicule.
Age Range of Dragons
The best way to determine the type of a dragon is by their age. Dragons could live for 2-3000 human years (which is a mere 400 Draconic years) taking on a new form every few centuries. Different names were given to these forms of aged dragons.
- The Wyrmling: This is a baby dragon. Baby dragons are innocent, and cannot fight or protect themselves. They cannot breathe elements or fly. Their talons are too soft to be used as weapons and their scale are not fully developed yet; the texture is much like that of snakeskin. The dragon is considered a wyrmling from the time of hatching till the Draconic age of fifteen.
- The Dragonette: This is a child dragon. Dragonette's still can't breathe elements. However it's claws are now partially hardened which enables it to rip flesh. Dragonette's still cannot fly. Its scales have now hardened giving it more defense. The dragonette's spines down its back and horns on its head are now beginning to grow. The dragon is considered a dragonette from the draconic age of 15 to 40 years.
- The Juvenile Dragon: This is what we can consider a teenage dragon. Juvenile dragon's are able to glide with the help of their mother (a dragonesse) but not achieve extreme heights. The glands that give them the ability to breathe certain elements are now forming. So for example, a red dragon (fire dragon) can now breathe sparks. The talons have hardened completely and the scales are now fully developed. However their horns and spines are still developing. The dragon is considered a juvenile from the draconic age of 40 to 60.
- The Young Adult Dragon: This is exactly what it says; a young adult dragon. Dragons at this stage can breathe small streams of elements. They are able to fly without assistance but still cannot achieve extreme heights. The dragon's horns and spines are now fully developed in this stage. The dragon is considered a young adult from the draconic age of 60 to 90.
- The Adult Dragon: This is an adult dragon. An adult can reach extreme heights when flying and breathe full streams of the element specific to its breed. It can now survive on its own without the help of its mother. The dragon is considered an adult from the draconic age of 90 to 150.
- The Wyrm: This is a senior of a dragon. It's muscle strength is heightened above limits. It can travel at extreme speeds and heights. It can control the streams of elements it breathes, including being able to shape them. At this stage some dragons learn to breathe elements other than the one specific to its breed. The dragon is considered a wyrm from the draconic age of 150 plus years.
- The Great Wyrm or Elder: This is an ancestor of dragons. The dragon is considered an elder or great wyrm if it has lived passed 900 draconic years, which is extremely rare. At this stage elder dragons have mastered the ability to breathe all elements, but has lost its wings. However it is still able to fly using magical rather than physical means. Its body form changes to serpant-like, but still has four feet. This dragon is often depicted in eastern mythology, specifically Chinese. Also at this stage the great wyrm or elder dragon has formed a beard-like crest under its chin and something like a mustache, taking on an older human-like appearance.
Colors of Dragons
There are thousands of breeds of dragons placed into three categories: Western, Eastern and dragonkin. For humans the easiest way to classify the different dragons is by their scale/skin color rather than their breed.
- The Black Dragon: This dragon is associated with evil or darkness. They're malevolent and vicious. They will not hesitate to kill their own kind for their own selfish purposes. With their fury, they are able to create storms. Black dragons have the ability to breathe fire and can learn how to turn invisible. They're mainly depicted with warlords and warlocks. They prefer to live in dank dark places, like dungeons and mines.
- The Blue Dragon: This dragon is associated with water. It has the ability to emit high pressured water from its mouth, as well as boiling hot steam, rather than fire. They are shy, but also very curious. They like shiny objects and are collectors. Naturally, they are expert swimmers as they live in water. They prefer to live in underwater caves. Blue dragons tend to keep to themselves.
- The Bronze Dragon: This dragon is not associated with any fixed element; it is a higher class of dragon. It can learn to breathe all elements. They have the ability to speak human tongues as well as their draconic tongue. These dragons are gifted with magic spells and incantations. They are often depicted as alchemists. They love to give humans who venture into their lairs riddles and puzzles, usually based on philosophy and astronomy. They are dragons of wisdom, like the gold and silver dragons. They prefer to live in castles under the protection of kings and lords.
- The Gold Dragon: This dragon is not associated with any elements. Gold dragons are the knights of the dragon world. They are dragons of the higher class. They are honorable and brave. These dragons can breathe any element. They are skilled magicians and also speak human tongues as well as their draconic tongue. They have the ability to shapeshift. Gold dragons have the gift of prophecy. These are the dragons that interact with humans most. They are often sought out for their wisdom and guidance by lords, kings and knights. Gold dragons are passive creatures and will only attack if provoked and only in self defense. They are the wisest of all dragons. They are often found in castles under the protection of kings and lords or guarding a treasure filled cave.
- The Silver Dragon: This dragon is not associated with any element. They are of the higher class of dragons. They can breathe any element. This dragon is very rarely seen by humans. It can travel through space and time. It has the ability to warp the fabric of reality to its will. Silver dragons are solitary travelers who do not interact with humans at all. They are also wise and passive creatures. They steer clear of war and violence. They are lovers of knowledge. They prefer to live in secluded places.
- The White Dragon: This dragon is associated with ice and snow. It has the ability to breathe snow and cause avalanches. It can also spit razor sharp shards of ice. White dragons are neutral and pretty self centered. They will only do something if there's something in it for them. They prize shiny objects, like metal, coins, glass, etc. White dragons are often found in ice caves or tunnels deep beneath the snow. They don't have much contact with humans because of their living environment. It prefers to live in cold places, like the arctic.
- The Red Dragon: This is the most common dragon. It is associated with fire. It can breathe incredible temperatures of fire. They can also control fire, having the ability to shape the fire they emit. Red dragons are ferocious and unapproachable because of their fiery temper. They are easily angered and easily provoked. They're unpredictable. They prefer to live in hot climates like volcanoes.
- The Green Dragon: This dragon is associated with the earth. The green dragon has the ability to breathe low temperatures of fire, using it not as a weapon but as a tool. They have short wings because they prefer to live in forests and wooded areas. They are skilled climbers and burrowers. They also have excellent night vision. They are peaceful and they are very affectionate. In other words, they're big scaly teddy bears. However if threatened, they will defend themselves. They live in small natural caves or in large trees. They're the smallest of the dragons.
- The Yellow Dragon: This dragon is associate with air and/or wind. Yellow dragons are able to create tornadoes with their wings. They have the ability to emit high pitch screeches. Yellow dragons are very boastful and egotistical. They tend to be airhead (hehe). They're the least intelligent of dragons. They don't much interact with humans because of their living environment. They prefer to live in flatland like deserts. They can be spotted high amongst the clouds.
Culture & Customs of Dragons
Unlike most animals, Dragons had their own culture and customs much like humans. They had familial structures, traditions, and language. This was in large part due to their superior intelligence. Below is just some of the traditions and aspects that make up a dragon's culture.
- All dragons spoke their own language known as Draconian. However some dragons, such as gold and silver, having the greatest intelligence of all dragons were able to speak human languages as well.
- Dragons kept their true names a guarded secret. Their names are given to them at birth but as they grow older and achieve higher levels of wisdom and skill and of course age rank, additions are added on to their given names. To learn a dragon's name was to learn everything about them: their abilities, rank, breed, etc. It wasn't uncommon for dragons to use alternate names when interacting with each other or with humans.
- Dragon families are patriarchal: consisting of the dragon father, the dragonesse and any offspring (i.e. wyrmlings, dragonettes and/or juveniles). Dragon families were known as folds.
- Magic is a large part of dragon culture. All dragons possess some magical ability and learn more as they mature. Their magic is nature based and rarely black or evil unless, performed by Black Dragons.
- Music is another large part of dragon culture. Most dragon's love making music and those who have the ability to speak human tongues tend to have beautiful singing voice. All dragons' voices are bewitching to humans, but none so strong as the silver, gold and bronze dragons.
- All dragon's are collectors in some way or another. Whether they collect, treasure, beautiful things, knowledge or war trophies, they each then to have their own hoard of items.
- Though dragon's tended to live in different environments according to their breed, a dragon's abode was always known as its lair.
Part One of Dragons: A Fantasy Made Real
© 2011 Skylar Spring
What do you like most about dragons?
Amanda Jacome on October 05, 2017:
I am writing a speech about dragons. This is very helpful.
Tom DiGregorio on October 13, 2015:
I believe that I am a metallic dragon. I have always believed that now I must find a way to get into contact with my brethren I hope they will allow me to live in peace and friendship with them forever
Skylar Spring (author) from New York on September 02, 2014:
Oh yes, in fact even Vampires and Zombies have their own lore. Most fictional creations or mythological creatures have loads of history and legends surrounding them. As writers we of course can tweak the lore to suit our own needs, but each mythological creature already has existing characteristics that vary from culture to culture. Thank you for reading my hub. I'm glad you found it interesting.
Catherine Giordano from Orlando Florida on September 01, 2014:
An amazing and complete guide to dragonology. I'm very impressed. I did not know thee was a canon of dragon lore. Since a dragon is a fantasy beast, I assumed each writer made up his own facts. Like writers make up different characteristics for zombies or vampires.
lilly on September 28, 2012:
i beleve in dragons i mean come on open your eyes!!! LOOK AT THE PROOF PEOPLE!!!!! I mean come on why would you not??Well mabe beacause your(hea hea :) ) SCARED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Skylar Spring (author) from New York on November 23, 2011:
@Richard... thank you for reading it :)
@Nature by dawn... Glad you liked it. I love fantasy and I also write it. But my husband is Dragon Obsessed, I used him as my encyclopedia for this hub lol. Thanks for reading and commenting :)
Dawn Ross on November 22, 2011:
Awesome! This is some very great reference material for anyone who writes fantasy (me).
RichardCMckeown on October 11, 2011:
Skylar Spring (author) from New York on September 29, 2011:
@Muvver... Glad you like it. Thanks for reading!
muvver on September 29, 2011:
very good we do learn from this well written and very helpful