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52 53 What has scales, breathes fire and flies Not only dragons, but the Earth does too. Throughout this book we have seen the figure of the dragon associated with elusive currents and energies, from the Chinese art of Feng Shui to the enigmatic French Wouivre, whether looking for the dragons backbone in a line of hills in the aboriginal bush or following a medieval dragonline of ancient churches across Europe. It was only in the last half of the twentieth century, years after mankind had split the atom, discovered dinosaurs and photographed distant galaxies, that scientists finally realised that the whole earth was very like a scaly firebreathing dragon. A huge continuous backbone of mountains runs down the centre of every ocean on Earth, spewing fire and new rock underwater to form the ocean floor, which spreads out on both sides, carrying the continental plates apart. Elsewhere, plates collide, and ocean floor is subducted back into the molten mantle beneath the ancient floating continents. The story of the Earth is locked into its stones, as pressure gradients, magnetic reversals, crystal and mineral seams and wind and water patterns. Perhaps this is the dragon the ancients were referring to. Perhaps we have been living on a dragon all along. the earth dragon The tectonic plates underlying the Americas, Europe and Eastern Asia courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution. The Earth is a thinly covered ball of molten rock, the temperature at its centre being hotter than the surface of the sun. The plates shift and jostle, carrying the continents around. Firebreathing volcanoes bring valuable minerals to the surfacethe dragon guards her treasure.
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