Mythical Creatures: Mysteries, Legends, and Unexplained by Linda S. Godfrey (author), Rosemary Ellen Guiley (consulting
By Linda S. Godfrey (author), Rosemary Ellen Guiley (consulting editor)
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Extra resources for Mythical Creatures: Mysteries, Legends, and Unexplained Phenomena
Still, the fact that dragons were included in his well-respected encyclopedia of nature convinced many readers of the creatures’ reality for centuries. J I 62 MYTHICAL CREATURES Some ancient saurians still live, however. The Komodo dragon, a lizard named after the Indonesian island where Westerners ﬁrst learned of it in 1912, is the living creature that most closely resembles a traditional dragon. These carnivorous monsters may grow to more than 12 feet in length, and can eat large mammals such as goats.
Well into the twenty-ﬁrst century, people still claimed to encounter the creature in the Pine Barrens. In the spring of 2007, a pair of campers in Sussex County reported they were followed by a tall, black ﬁgure whose Fabled Flyers 41 basilisks was to carry a weasel, the only animal immune to the basilisk’s deadly powers. Today, the creature’s name has reverted to reptile status. The basilisk of the natural world is a mild-mannered South American lizard, no more than two and one-half feet long.
Author Peter Costello believes that human craft may have played a role equal to that of nature in reinforcing the idea of dragons. From the early to late Middle Ages, he says in The Magic Zoo,10 the custom of using giant, ﬂuttering windsock dragons as battleﬁeld banners spread from Asia to Europe. Each banner held a ﬂaming torch to present the daunting illusion of a ﬂying, ﬁre-breathing dragon, and may have helped turn the tide of many medieval battles. At night, in the heat of battle, the billowing ﬁgures may have appeared real, and those who lived to tell the tale probably swore they battled dragons.