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50 51 Today we live within the modern myth of science. It tells of a long gone age where the earth was walked by lizards called dinosaurs. Could dragon legends actually contain dim memories of real animals On the Indonesian island of Komodo off Indonesia lives a large four legged, long tailed lizard known as a Komodo dragon. Any explorer coming across one might easily be forgiven for imagining that they had come across some kind of wyvern page 30. A Komodo dragon is a living dinosaur, but reptiles like snakes and lizards are not the only descendants of dinosaursfar more common in fact are all birds. On the island of New Zealand a giant flightless bird known as the Moa below left lived until only a few hundred years ago, when it was hunted to extinction by the colonisers of the time, the Maori. Any unsuspecting medieval voyager who stepped ashore and spotted one would be forgiven for thinking that they were looking at a cockatrice or velocirapter. We also know that ancient Chinese apothecaries used fossilised bones in their medicines because their descendants guided western fossil hunters to the same fossil caves. But what would they make of a fossilised Tyrannosaurus Rex skull How could they not assume dragons Our genetic ancestors were once hunted by dinosaurs. Could dragons resonate as a deep compound symbol for one of our oldest foes another age Above In the early 1840s Sir Richard Owen coined the word dinosaur, meaning fearfully great lizard. It is reasonable to wonder whether the fossilised remains of these creatures gave rise to the many tales of dragons. After all, fossils have been discovered the world over and perhaps this explains why dragons are represented in so many different cultural contexts. Left The giant Moa bird and a sea horse, without a shadow of a doubt a baby dragon.
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