Dragons are one of the oldest mythological creatures believed to have existed many years ago.
They have a rich history, and they continue to grace our television shows, books, and films today. These creatures are valued in many cultures in Europe, Asia, Africa, and America.
This article looks at how dragons came into existence and the different types of dragons.
- Origin & Mythology Of Dragons
- 17 Different Types Of Dragon
- Frequently Asked Questions
Origin & Mythology Of Dragons
There is more than enough evidence to show that dragons were real. The word ‘dragon’ was derived from the Greek word ‘drakon,’ which meant a giant serpent. They were depicted to have different meanings according to regions.
The dragon was conceived as evil in some cultures, such as the Middle Eastern. It was virtuous in cultures such as the Romans. For instance, the Egyptian dragon, Apepi, was the god of darkness.
The Romans and Greeks interpreted drakontes as generous creatures which dwelled on earth. However, the evil association of dragons was more substantial in many parts of the world. In the Christian world, dragons symbolize sin and Satan.
The forms and shapes of dragons have also been changing over time. Some have four legs, scaly bodies, and wings, while others lack legs and wings. Some, like the Greek Hydra, which appears in Revelation in the Bible, have many heads. Due to their strength and resilience, dragons have been used on war emblems such as shields.
In some parts of Asia, dragons’ mythologies present them as prestigious and helpful creatures. Lung was the Chinese dragon that represented heaven and good deeds. It later became the symbol of the royal family. The Japanese dragons were also treated with high regard as powerful creatures of the air.
In some cultures, real-life animals inspired the belief in the existence of dragons. These animals include the dinosaur, the Goanna, Nile crocodile, and whales. Some scholars like David E. Jones argue in his book “An Instinct for Dragons” (2000) that the human brain creates the existence of dragons. He further explains that this comes from the inner fear of snakes and large cats.
17 Different Types Of Dragon
There are many types of dragons, according to the folklore and mythology surrounding them. No specific source specifies the exact number of dragons that existed. This article will highlight the 17 most familiar types.
Originally from Europe, England, the Wyvern is a typical two-legged dragon with two wings. Sometimes the wings have eagle claws at the sharp tips. Its shape is depicted as a diamond or arrow shape. The most important feature is that it doesn’t breathe fire like other dragons.
The Wyvern is a portrayal of heraldry and a symbol of strength. It explains why it is commonly used on coats of arms, athletic teams’ mascots, schools, and shields. You can frequently encounter the Wyvern in European folklore, mythology, and literature. It is popular in video games and some present-day fantasy literature.
Originally from Greece, the Hydra is a familiar serpent in Roman and Greek mythology. This water monster lived in Lake Lerna, thus its other name Learnean Hydra. It had many heads which would double when chopped off.
This serpent was killed by Heracles, Eurystheus’ servant, by cutting off all the heads and burning the throat with a sword of fire. However, it had an immortal head that was cut off and buried under a rock. Today, the beast forms the largest constellation in the sky.
3. Standard Western Dragon
This name typically describes several European dragons, including the Wyrm explained above. This monster has six limbs, including four legs and a pair of wings. It breathes fire and is usually a depiction of war. It is typically among the most powerful dragons to exist.
In most Western folklore, this dragon is an evil creature that lives in an underground lair. In today’s fantasy works, Western dragons are the most commonly used. They represent humans’ fear of snakes, big cats, and bats.
This is a European dragon that resembles a ‘worm’ in that it has no legs and wings but moves on its belly. It has a powerful tail and strong snapping jaw that enables it to fight even the strongest creatures.
Common wyrms in Britain are the Lambton worm and the worm of Bambrough. They love dwelling in deep waters and wells. Wyrms living in underground pools are called knuckers. In today’s myths and fiction, these kinds of dragons are used to represent meanness. The fun fact is that if the body is cut into pieces, they can easily rejoin back into one.
The “Drake” is a collective word for any young dragon (dragonling) or one with four legs and no wings. Drakes could either be fire-drake or cold-drake, with the first breathing fire while the latter breathing frost. Fire drakes are red in color, while cold drakes are blue or white.
There exist drakes that have wings and are the most terrifying dragons. They fly in their air and use their huge wings to destroy their enemies below with a single blow. They prefer living in rocky places. Most of their features are pretty similar to the Western dragons.
It has a close resemblance to the serpent (snake) but with a pair of wings and a dragon head. This dragon species comes with different body characteristics. While some have feathered colored wings, others have bat wings. Their necks could be short or long and have an arrow-like or decorative tail. Most have different bodies and head types to adapt to their environment.
This Arabian serpent lives on top of trees and kills both humans and animals with just a stab from the tail.
This is a small rear dragon that resembles the western dragon. It has scales, pointed wings, claws, a long neck, and can breathe fire. Some are even smaller than a human. Despite their small size, they are very harmful to man. They live and move in packs and can quickly devour a human being.
Their blood is also poisonous, and a drop of it on the skin causes instantaneous death. They love cold air and primarily reside on top of mountains.
8. African Dragon
The African mythology has dragons that differ from the European and the Asian. In Northern Africa are the Egyptian dragons, with the most notable being the Apep, which travels in the underworld at night. The African Rainbow serpent is used in religious rituals in West Africa.
European bestiaries also identify dragon-like creatures in African countries like Ethiopia. In Congo Basin, dinosaur-like reptiles such as emela-ntouka were also thought to be dragons. However, a critical study of African mythology shows that some authors were using European wyrms and wyverns.
There was a plague of guivres in the middle age period. These creatures had a toxic breath that spread dangerous diseases. These kinds of dragons represent wrath, destruction, and death in modern literature. They have a long, muscular neck, thin snot, and thick membranous wings.
These creatures were spitting out water which saw them being called the ‘gargler.’ An archbishop defeated them by making the cross sign using two fingers. To date, some churches globally have guivres as art with water spouting from their mouths.
Knuckers are generally dragons that live in underground water and damp pools. They have a huge body, about 30 feet long, four legs, and a pair of vestigial wings. They have leathery skin that is usually dull red in color. The knucker, otherwise known as the sea serpent, has a hissing sound and produces very harmful venom that could melt away prey.
In ancient folklore, knuckers were found in damp places in Sussex. They have been featured in different works of art such as the Slaine, The Sea of Trolls, and The Land of the Silver Apples.
11. The Chinese Dragon
Also known as ‘Lung,’ this is a common creature in Chinese culture and mythology. It is depicted as a huge serpentine with four legs. The Chinese dragons are further subdivided into nine categories which assume different forms like fish and turtles. Common subspecies of Chinese dragons are Tianlong (celestial dragon), Yinglong, Shenlong (spiritual dragons), and the dragons of hidden treasures.
In Chinese folklore, these dragons signify luck, power, and strength. They have a great ability to control the water by summoning rain and ending floods or drought. In ancient China, the emperor used the dragon to show his power and royalty.
The cockatrice is a type of a pseudo dragon. Psuedo dragons were kins of dragons with lesser features than real dragons but had special mythologies. It looked exactly like a wyvern, except it had two legs and a cock’s head. The myths surrounding this dragon were first developed in the Bible.
Different scholars have tried to explain the origin of cockatrice. It is commonly associated with Basilisk, where academicians like Alexander Neckam believe it was born from a rooster’s egg and a toad incubation. It is the most harmful pseudo dragon as it can kill through its poisonous breath, look or touch.
13. The Japanese Dragon
Japanese dragons are common mythology in the Asian cultures of China, Korea, Japan, and India. Similar to the Chinese dragons, these also have power over rainfall and storms, and they live under large water bodies. The body form takes the shape of an enormous serpent with claws and no wings. Some can also change into a human form.
Japanese legends Nihongi and Kojiki have talked about several dragons such as Watatsumi (sea god), Wani, Raiju, Yamata no Orochi, and Mizuchi. Japanese and Chinese dragons bear the same resemblance. Several authors suggest that you can differentiate them by the number of claws.
14. Oriental Dragon
Most commonly referred to as the ‘Eastern Dragon,’ this mythology originated from East Asia. They had four legs, a serpentine body, and no wings. They have four toes on each foot, and only the emperor of China’s dragon had five toes which differentiated it from the dragons in folklores.
Unlike the Western dragons, which were known to be evil, the Eastern dragons were regarded as guardians and protectors. They supposedly guarded the heavens, royalty, and the people. In East Asia’s folklore and religion, oriental dragons controlled natural calamities such as rain and the wind.
15. Quetzalcoatl (Kulkukan)
The word Quetzalcoatl can be loosely translated to a “feathered-serpent.” This dragon was one of the highly worshipped gods in the mesoamerican culture and traditions. He was connected to the rains and wind. Kulkukan was the protector and the food provider to the Aztecs. The Aztecs also believed that this dragon was the god of knowledge as he understood arts and science and even invented books.
Different Mexican religions worshiped this dragon, which was highly revered even by the high priests. However, it declined animal sacrifices that were offered to other gods as a norm.
Druk or “thunder dragon” is mythology from the Bhutanese and Tibetan cultures. The symbol of this dragon is drawn on Bhutan’s flag to show wealth. These monsters are thin and long due to the nature of their environment (high altitude). Most live at the peak of snow mountains. They have four legs and camouflaging skin, usually yellow and red.
Tibetans believed that druks were highly virtuous and could tell apart wrong and right. They went to meditate with the monks but could only speak to them through sound and actions. Druk has been used to show strength and power throughout Tibetan and Bhutan. Bhutan leaders were also known as Druk Gyalpo, which meant “thunder dragon kings.”
17. Night Fury
The Night Fury is a rare draconic creature under the Strike class dragons. It first appeared in the “How to train your dragon series,” with only Toothless as the surviving species of this dragon. They appear in black or white colors (light furies) with large bat-like wings unproportioanl to their bodies. They can fly very fast and far on their wings.
They are very intelligent as they can hide in the dark, preparing to strike on their prey. A fun fact about them is that they can easily conceal their teeth in the gums to look toothless. They are very aggressive, as explained in the Book of Dragons. Night furies are curious and can seemingly understand the language of man.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is the most powerful dragon?
Quetzalcoatl, also known as kukulkan is the most powerful dragon. This “feathered-serpent” was a Mesoamerican deity that was worshipped. It was believed to be the god of creation, rain-maker, mighty protector, fire-bringer, and wind-blower. Kulkukan was not fond of human sacrifices as opposed to the mythic traditions of the Mayans, Toltecs, and Aztecs.
Who is the coolest dragon?
The Learnean Hydra, born by Typhon and Echidna, was the coolest dragon. This sea serpent had a poisonous breath and blood. He had many heads that would regenerate twice when cut off. Heracles killed it with the help of his cousin Lolaus. They’d cut off the head and burn the necks with sword and fire. The last neck was cut off and buried alive under a great rock.
What is the weakest dragon?
The white dragon (also called glacial wyrms) were the weakest dragons to exist. They are the smallest subspecies of the chromatic dragons with white and grey shades. In snowy environments, the skin would turn to ice-blue. This enabled them to camouflage in any environment. They had a streamlined body with the head and neck in sync with the body.
They were not as strong as other dragons, but their icy-cold breath could freeze their enemies. White dragons avoided fights with mightier dragons and would prefer hiding in the glaciers.
Did dragons exist?
Many cultures from Asia to Europe and America have dragon tales and mythologies surrounding them. Different scholars have attempted to explain where and how dragon stories emerged. Myths and folklores about these great serpents began as early as the ancient Greek age. In “The Penguin Book of Dragons,” Scott G. Bruce explains that dragons looked exactly like giant serpents which would devour and kill with their mighty power and poisonous breath.
In most history, dragons were just mythical animals, protective in some instances and harmful in others, depending on the culture and area.
When was the last dragon killed?
In the fantasy fiction game of thrones, Drogon was believed to be the last dragon. Drogon and his siblings Viserion and Rhaegal hatched from the eggs that Daenerys received as a wedding gift. Both Drogon’s siblings were killed, leaving him as the last dragon. The last time he was seen was when he flew away with Daenerys’ body after melting the iron throne.
Experts, however, dispute this claim by saying that Drogon, Viserion, and Rhaegal could have laid eggs that later hatched into new dragons. There is no adequate literature that confirms that the trio were the last dragons to exist.
Dragons have been around for centuries in different forms. They have been featured in different fantasy movies, series, and books. They are incorporated in different cultures with various folklore and mythologies surrounding them. Their legacy remains inspirational in the modern world of fiction.