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Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Welcome to the Year of the Dragon

Welcome to the new year of the Dragon by the Chinese calendar (A most auspicious year)
I have written on Oriental dragons extensively on this blog before. For a refresher, although I consider several different creatures to be involved in what could be called dragon sightings in Chinese past history, and ranging from giant salamanders to Inland Sea-Serpents, I consider the "True" Oriental dragon to be an intermediate category recognised as more or less the "Average" Oriental dragon. See the older Blog posting at:

Neolithic Chinese Royal Grave with dragon figure laid out in shells, cmparable in size to similar representation of a tiger and the human skeleton between the two, cultural context radiocarbon dated to approx. 6000 BC.

This would be the moderate-sized creature corresponding to descriptions of the Buru of Assam and otherwise to the Komodo dragon known to be living in Australia. An amphibious, saltwater and freshwater-inhabiting monitor lizard much like the Komodo dragon but up to twice the usual dimensions has been reported from various parts of Southern Asia and including even occasionally on Komodo island itself, and Bernard Heuvelmans lists several locations where it occurs as separate types of dragons because its range actually is so widespread. (Heuvelmans considers the shoreline-traveling larger dragon and the highlands dwelling Buru to be the same species but I am not so sure about that myself. It does make things easier for the Cryptozoologists to refer to only one new species of surprisingly large lizards yet to be discovered and catalogued)

Above, a Komodo dragon stretched out at length. To the left, the yellow tongue looking like a flickering flame. Another similar type of large monitor lizard could also be the origin for stories of Western dragons and the opponent of such legendary figures as St. George.
The newly-hatched Komodo dragon has a pattern of smallish red and yellow eyespots or Ocelli. In my reconstruction of the larger Water-Monitor of Southern Asia and Indonesia, I include a representation of about the same colour scheme in contrast to the regular New Guinean "Crocodile monitor" although all three large monitor lizards must be very closely related.

It turns out that both Crocodile monitors and the Komodo Dragons originated on Australia and are related to the even bigger "Megalania" (actually Varanus) prisca ,but all are one clade within the genus Varanus (Monitor lizards)

The Komodo dragons are the only lizards known to be living today that are thought to be actually dangerous to unarmed human beings.Tourists have been eaten by the dragons and it is best to keep out of their way.
Karl Shuker once voiced his objection that some accounts of the Buru say that the creature hasn't any legs, only "Flanges" at the sides (in a conversation that was admittedly difficult to translate.) Here is a photo of a Komodo dragon digging itself into the ground, and indeed the legs are not noticeable as anything that would ordinarily be described as legs.In wet mud the effect is more pronounced.

Best Wishes, Dale D.

1 comment:

  1. The quandry remains: are Thing One and Thing Two The same Thing? Bernard Heuvelmans said that the Buru (at 12-13 feet long and in the highlands) was the same thing as what I call the True Crocodile Monitor (twice as long and settles along the shoreline)

    I can still say that I see the merits of only pushing for one new species of unclassified giant monitor lizard, especially since the two Things would probably be related to each other. There is probably the much more serious problem in that both of the Things are described as having completely different habits and habitat, which require a different set of adaptations to different environments, and the fact that the one is said to have double the dimensions of the other. Whenever I hear of two things classified as the same species and yet the larger form is double the dimensions of the average for the species, then I wonder about that.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.


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