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We can see ancient references to dragon-like creatures in European, Asian and also many other civilizations. Did these civilizations come up with the concept of dragons independently and just coincidentally similar? Or does the entire myth have roots in one place and spread? Of all the creatures you can come up with, to think all these civilizations came up with the same thing independently is curious.

In even more ancient mythology, serpents were very often a target or myths. Why the cross-culture significance of serpents and serpent-like creatures like dragons?

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    Have you ever seen a spectacular Aurora Borealis? One time and you will understand where and how dragon myths originate. Oct 26 '20 at 12:54
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    The question may technically be different, but I feel that this answer more or less fully applies: mythology.stackexchange.com/a/1051/108
    – Semaphore
    Oct 26 '20 at 13:03
  • d‘Huy, Julien, 2013, Le motif du dragon serait paléolithique, that is a French researcher who uses cladistics to study oldest myths (various papers are online).
    – sand1
    Nov 21 '20 at 22:24
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Similar imagery in myths and stories crop up in different cultures around the world; it isn't just dragons. The flood and Ark, vampires, resurrecting Gods, cosmic wars with differing factions...all of these can be found in various myths and religions around the world. Most of them, including mention of dragons, can be traced back to Sumerian writings (which, not surprisingly, is the earliest known written language [1]). It begs the "chicken or the egg" question, in my mind; could it be that nearly all cultures have a dragon myth because nearly all cultures experienced dragons in the distant past, or is it because nearly all cultures have some degree of inspiration from Sumerian myths, which were the earliest recorded? Occam's razor tells us it's the second, but that's not necessarily as fun...

You might also want to check out this other thread on dragons [2] and see if you find any useful answers/theories there.

[1] https://www.bl.uk/history-of-writing/articles/where-did-writing-begin [2] What is the earliest known dragon myth?

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  • I am not entirely sure believing a myth all the way from Sumerian times survived and propagated is Occam's razor. Maybe it is, it just seems hard to figure a piece of specific myth would survive that long. But we know dragons, at least floating ones, could never exist. You point out other myths, which is true, but I feel those have concepts that are more obvious to life - than a specific creature like that. Vampires I thought were more modern. But blood related creatures myths make sense, since blood is as old as life.
    – Opcode
    Oct 27 '20 at 2:26
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Interesting to note that in the Western tradition, Dragons are foes, typically fire-breathing, that must be slain, from Python to Fafnir & Smaug, while in the Eastern tradition (China principally) dragons are benefactors that bring rain.

It's possible that these two conceptions arise independently in that the Indo-European languages, including Germanic languages, use the "drak" root that comes to us through the Greek δράκων (drakōn), while the Chinese word is Lóng 龙.

If there was significant enough geographical separation to allow a distinct language families, it's not unreasonable to assume the same applies to this very ancient mythical beast.

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