What Were Mythical Dragons And How They Came To Existence?

A statue of a roaring dragon

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We have heard much folklore about dragons and their magical abilities in our childhood. Many of these stories involved a prince rescuing a princess from these monstrous dragons, while others involved heroic dragons that would breathe fire to save the main character.

We cannot deny the fact that dragons have ruled the mythological world for a long time. According to legends and many old tales, mythical dragons used to have these supernatural powers and were considered divine.

But how did these mythical creatures come to life? Were these related to existing animals? Read this article until the end to learn about mythical dragons and how they were classified according to mythical traditions.

What Are Mythical Dragons?

A dragon spreads its wings in the desert

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To understand what mythical dragons are, first, we have to learn about dragons. Generally, dragons can be characterized as serpent like creatures with fearsome nature and abilities to breathe fire or fly. In Greek, the word dragon or drakon means a great serpent or sea serpent.

Many cultures recognized these prehistoric animals as gods. However, different regions had varying beliefs about them accordingly to their geography. For example, western culture remembered dragons as evil beasts. In another dragon myth, people used to think of them as the guards of the dark caves that could sway away the evil spirit.

On the other hand, eastern cultures identified dragons as some knowledgeable creatures. They also believed that these creatures could control elements like water and wind. However, in Chinese mythology, there were some different dragon tales.

A dragon in the smoke

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Below we have discussed some of the most common dragon myths and how the ancient people approved of them.

A dragon is surrounded by fire

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According to some theories, dragon myths in the past might have been due to the existing creatures like snakes, lizards, and eels. Because people could not identify these animals properly, they depicted them as dragons. Here we can take the example of stories like “Thakane, The Princess Dragon Slayer,” which appeared similar to a crocodile.

A dragon statue with wings spread

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A commonly held theory is that people from ancient civilizations may have stumbled upon fossil remains of prehistoric creatures, including dinosaurs. These remains were then used to imagine and create dragon myths and tales.


Close-up grey statue of a dragon head

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Religion may have influenced the creation of dragon myths. For example, in Aryan texts, the serpent Vritra represented drought and was part of ancient Vedic mythology. In this ancient aryan Vedic texts, the invisible God of rain and thunder, Indra, defeats the Ashura. In addition to this, he also acknowledged that Vritra could be seen as a dragon king.


The golden dragon head at close range

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There is a possibility that dragon myths were created by ancient people’s fear of snakes and other prehistoric animals. These myths portrayed dragons as living in remote or dangerous locations like oceans or caves. Native people probably created these tales to warn others to be cautious when exploring unfamiliar areas.


Common Mythical Dragons

Dragons have played a significant role in many important civilizations around the world. We have learned how these mythical creatures came to be through the creation of various myths. Now, let’s look at some of the most famous dragons from these myths.


color dragon art work

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The Chinese dragon, also known as “Long” or “Lung,” is an important part of Chinese mythology. It is often depicted as a long, snake-like creature with four legs, representing power, strength, prosperity, and good luck. It is a symbol that has been used in Chinese culture for a long time.

The physical appearance of Chinese dragons is highly detailed, including a horse, camel, or crocodile-like head, demonic eyes, tiger-like paws, claws, and whiskers. They also possess a lump called “Chimu,” which allows them to fly.


The Mushussu or Sirrush was an ancient dragon thought to live in Mesopotamia and was considered a helper of the gods. It had many physical features like scales, a horned head, a long neck and tail, a body like a fish, a snake-like tongue, lion-like front legs, and eagle-like back legs.


The dragon of thunder, also known the dragon king, the Druk, is a mythical creature in Himalayan and Tibetan mythology. It is a serpentine dragon that holds an orb and lives in remote areas of Mount Everest. Moreover, the leaders of Tibet also use the title “Druk Gyalpo,” which means “Thunder Dragon Kings,” as inspired by the mythical dragon.


Apophis was a scary giant serpent monster that represented darkness and chaos in ancient Egyptian mythology. He was Ra’s biggest enemy, who was the Sun God. Ancient Egyptians used to call Apophis as Apep the “Serpent of the Nile,” and the “Lord of Chaos.” This benevolent creature was an ancient symbol in the middle ages.


A dragon with wings on the ground

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The Midgard Serpent was a scary water creature in Norse mythology and was believed to be one of Loki’s children. This earth serpent was so big that it could wrap itself around the world and hold its tail in its mouth.


Vritra was a giant dragon in early Vedic religion representing evil and drought. He was considered the first-born among dragons and was an enemy of Indra. It was a water-dwelling dragon known for controlling the water flow.


One famous European dragon story is about Saint George and the dragon. It begins with a city called Silene in Libya that had a problem with a dragon. The dragon was eating the sheep that belonged to the city and even killed a young shepherd.

To prevent further damage, the city’s people gave the dragon two sheep daily to satisfy its hunger. But one day, the dragon ate all the sheep and was later fed with human sacrifices.


How Are Dragon Myths Modernized?

A dragon is breathing fire

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During Medieval times, people from different cultures told stories about dragons in their legends, myths, and religious texts. These stories influenced how we think about dragons today.

One famous dragon story is about Merlin, a child prophet who helped a warlord named Vortigern. Vortigern tried to build a tower on a mountain to protect himself, but it kept falling. Merlin told Vortigern that two dragons were sleeping under the ground where he was trying to build.

Vortigern had the ground dug up, and two dragons, one white and one red, appeared. The dragons fought, and Merlin said that the white dragon would win. This represented England conquering Wales. However, he also said that the red dragon would return one day and defeat the white dragon.

Bottom Line

Varying ancient mythologies have different tales about dragons. Some myths called these creatures dragon kings, while others called them serpent monsters. Hopefully, we have provided enough information about every mythology regarding most dragons. Have you ever thought of getting a real-life-sized dragon sculpture? If yes, then look at some of our favorite picks here!


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