You are wandering through a jungle, you look up toward the setting sun through the canopy. The silhouettes of small birds glide and dart between the trees. Only, these are not birds. As one of the creatures glides over your head, the setting sun illuminates its brightly colored reptilian form. The Jungle is alive with baby Dragons.
The humble Draco Volans, otherwise known as the Flying Dragon. From tip to tail, they rarely grow any longer than about 22 cm/8″. This reptile, found exclusively throughout Southeast Asia eats primarily a diet of insects, some species eat only ants. The one characteristic that truly sets this creature apart from the 6,000+ other species of lizards, is that it has the ability to glide (not fly). Elongated ribs have given this lizard wings, which it uses to glide from tree to tree to cover greater distances at the expense of less energy. More impressively however, this characteristic turns a lizard, into a Dragon.
But why do these frill-like growths on this little lizard garner so much attention? Just because it has a slight resemblance to a creature of mythology? It garners attention, because for some reason, for many cultures around the world, we as humans are fascinated by the concept of The Dragon.
When something that has long burned in human imagination steps into the physical world (metaphorically speaking) we are taken back, in awe. It’s like when we witness someone do something, that by all accounts, he or she should not be capable of doing. It makes us question what we know about this world and the limitations we impose upon ourselves.
Once we become accustomed to something, even if it is spectacular, we soon come to take it in our stride. Similar to the story of Julius Caesar’s giraffe he brought back to Rome in 46 BC. The crowds could not believe their eyes, that such an unusual creature, in all its majestic splendor could be real. No doubt the tallest animal they would have ever seen. But to prove his power over even such a rare and beautiful animal, Caesar had it mauled and devoured by lions in the fighting pits. As the crowds watched, more than likely, cheering with amusement. Most of them would live their entire lives without ever seeing another giraffe again.
Even in the myths surrounding Dragons, it was often remarked that they were hunted into extinction. Similarly to the thought that, through some miracle the Tyrannosaurus Rex ever co-existed with man. The threat would be too great, our species would seek to eliminate the competition. Some armored, flying menace that could roar flames that engulfed entire Kingdoms. Our future would not have been possible, with theoretical Dragons holding dominion over the skies.
Perhaps it’s for the best that such a creature, like many other mythological creatures never set foot in this world. To escape the cruelty we would have undoubtedly bestowed upon them. Their implication on this planet would be too great, just as some say our human implication is also too great. Perhaps somewhere, somewhere isolated, some deep dark cavern in one of the last overlooked parts of the earth, something exists in secrecy, that with a bit of luck, will remain secret.