Here be dragons


Senior Member.
An interesting article has been published in the scientific magazine Nature today:
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Long considered to be the stuff of legend, dragons cross cultures and continents. Until recently, however, scant attention had been paid to the fact that the commonality in cultural representations of such creatures indicates something more sinister. From depictions in Ancient Greek literature and Slavic myth, to the dragons of the East or allusions in Zoroastrian scripture, the descriptions resonate. What if these legends were rooted in truth? The differences in appearance — some lack wings, some have multiple heads and some seem not to breathe fire — once thought to reflect local traditions, can also readily be explained by speciation.
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The full text is available at the journal website:


  • Here_be_dragons_Nature.pdf
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Some of the content of this article may merit a degree of scepticism.
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Published April 1, 2015.:)

I knew it wasn't a serious article. I just couldn't figure out what they were up too at first. I was fooled in the sense that for a moment I thought that the editorial staff of Nature magazine was replaced by the producers of the History Channel.

They got me.
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I knew it wasn't a serious article. I just couldn't figure out what they were up too at first.

I recall that Nature did it before when the publication date of an issue came at the first day of the fourth month. I also recall that in 1985, Nature published on unnumbered pages an article "The Perpetuum Mobile Is Discovered" by Stefan Marinov. This was not an April fool piece but a paid ad. Here is a comment from the Feedback column in New Scientist (3 October 1985, page 66):
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Action/thriller author Matthew Reilly's latest book The Great Zoo of China plot revolved around the idea that dragons did exist and have been hibernating for the last thousand years or so because the global temperature was too cold, but now its warming up they have started to emerge. China of course has built a Jurassic Park style zoo to keep them but shit goes awry.

But thats just bombastic non-fiction.

Got to hand it to Nature and the odd witty prank, proof that us scientists have a sense of humour too!
and a few years back in the UK we had a really quite well done pseudo nature documentary from Channel 4 that looked at dragons as a recently extinct species.

Its here if you wanna watch it, but its an hour and a half long. (although as i said as work of fiction its rather groovy and well worth a peep)

The docufiction starts with a live-action dramatisation of the discovery of a frozen dragon carcass in the Carpathian Mountains in Romania, next to similarly preserved bodies of some 15th-century would-be slayers. The drama then starts in present-day Montana with a battle between a prehistoric dragon and a Tyrannosaurus rex, 65 million years ago. Then a 6 mile-wide meteorite crashes into Earth, killing almost all large life forms on dry land. However, "marine dragons" evolve in the sea. The story then goes that around 64.95 million years later, mammals have taken over the planet, humans being among the most perilous to dragons. The final scene returns to 15th-century Romania, where a lord and his squire enter an icy cave to fight the "monster" that has been stealing sheep.

A large part of "Dragons" is devoted to scientific explanation of how a 900-pound animal could have flown and breathed fire from its mouth.
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