When I think of a dragon, the first thing that pops into my head is this huge, winged reptile that has a crested head and enormous wings. This mythical creature also has the ability to spout fire at will. That is my idea of a dragon, but dragons of different sizes and abilities fill legends that have been around since the time of the ancient Greeks and Sumerians.
Dragons from these myths come in all sizes and colors. Some have wings, while others don’t. Some can breathe fire, but others can’t. Some are said to live in palaces under the ocean, while others can only be found in caves deep inside mountains. Some are only a few feet long, yet others are miles long.
The word dragon comes from the ancient Greek word draconta which means ‘to watch’. This gives the idea that the purpose of dragons was to guard valuables such as coins, gems, or gold. Why would a dragon have need of such items? And who would be powerful enough to persuade this fire-breathing creature to guard such things? How loyal would a dragon be? What reward or compensation could one give him for guarding his treasure?
The Komodo Dragon
Do dragons really exist, or are they just a part of mythology? The Komodo dragon is the world’s largest living lizard. It makes its home in Indonesia. These real-life dragons aren’t capable of running very fast. They can move as fast as 13 miles per hour but only for a short time. Their hunting skills rely more on their stealth and power.
They don’t have the ability to breathe fire, but they do have a fantastic sense of smell. The Komodo dragon detects scents like a snake does; it uses its tongue. When the dragon attacks an animal and bites it, even if the animal escapes, it will probably be dead within a week if not sooner. The venom of the dragon is poisonous to other animals. They will eat just about any kind of meat, so no animal is safe when around a hungry Komodo dragon.
The Frilled Dragon
The frilled dragon, also called the frilled lizard, is found in Australia. Its frill isn’t always on display. But when this creature feels threatened, it fully opens up the frill, hisses, and takes off running for the nearest tree. This colorful frill isn’t only for scaring off predators; it also helps to regulate their body temperature. The size and color they are vary depending on what part of Australia they live in. The larger adult frilled dragons are about 3 feet long from head to tail.
Most of their lives are spent up in the trees, but they do come down occassionally to eat. They feast on ants, spiders, cicadas, termites, small mammals, and other small lizards. Birds of prey, larger lizards, dingoes, and feral cats hunt this cute little dragon.
How would your character react if he ran across one of these dragons while on vacation in Ausralia? Would the dragon be scared, display its frill, and take off running?
The Bearded Dragon
The bearded dragon is another interesting resident of Australia. They have the ability to flare out the skin under their throats. This makes it look as though the lizard has a beard. These guys will actually open their mouths and pant like dogs when they are hot. The colors of a bearded dragon in the wild range from a dull brown and grey to brighter colors like orange and red. Those in captivity have been selectively bred to be even more colors.
This lizard will eat any plant it can get its teeth around. It will also eat small rodents and small lizards if they can catch them. So they don’t become someone’s meal, they always need to keep watch for eagles and other large birds of prey.
The Flying Dragon
In Southeast Asia, there is a small lizard called the flying dragon. The little guy makes its home in trees, grows to about eight inches in length, and can glide through the air from tree to tree or to the ground. How? It has a false set of ribs that extend outward from the body, and they are covered by a thin membrane. These spreading folds of skin enable this lizard to gracefully glide through the air. The main predator that this lizard has to watch out for is the snake.
A group of mythological dragons can be called a flight of dragons, a wing of dragons, or a dignity of dragons. I think that those collective nouns would also work for any of these dragon lizards. My favorite is a flight of dragons.
Let your imagination soar and have fun deciding how to write about dragons. There are so many possibilities for stories about these real-life dragons gaining the ability to breathe fire.
What if all of these dragons that exist suddenly gained the ability to breathe fire? Their predators would get a nasty surprise, and their numbers would grow. How else would they take advantage of this new ability? Would they band together, or would they fight with each other? Would they overrun cities and countries?
How would humans react if these lizards suddenly gained this ability? Would scientists try to capture different ones to study? I’m sure they would want to know how this ability was gained. Would those who weren’t interested in studying these lizards be scared? Would they try to exterminate all lizards to keep this ability from spreading to all species? Would the military hunt them down to use in battles against their enemies? Could they be trained?