Dragons. You've heard of them. They're mythical animals that look like a cross between a lizard and my Art teacher. But whatever.
Dragons are quite possibly one of the most famous mythical beasts, next to the cutesy unicorns and faeries and elves and that. But you do see dragon statues in many gift shops. Heck, I have one myself.
The idea for dragons was probably created in China. Chinese dragons are more reptilian than your commercial European dragon. According to legend, they were made up of many different animals put together.
They have the eyes of a hare, the head of a camel, horns of a deer, ears of a bull, neck of an iguana, the belly of a frog, scales of a carp, tiger paws, eagle claws, tail of a serpent and a partridge in a pear tree. (Kidding)
And that's just the female.
In Chinese mythology, dragons could bring rain, breathe flames and were used to guard treasure.
Even Ancient Egypt had its own dragonlore. Though there is very little information available today, it is thought that they were associated with the brothers Osiris and Seth.
In Europe, dragons had a more fearsome story. The famous Greek dragon Draco was a fighter for the Titans and was cast into the sky as a constellation. There is also the popular Christian story of Saint George and the dragon.
The European dragon seems to get the short end of the stick in most stories. You have your basic dragon fairytale when dragon kidnaps maiden, knight kills dragon, maiden gets rescued. Supposedly a happy ending, however the poor old dragon ends up on the end of some twat's spear.
Mind you, there are people who are fascinated with the legendary strength of dragons. Many sports teams call themselves the Dragons. It's probably useful for intimidating the opposition.
Many books about dragons (factual and fictional) exist today. Some examples are Dragonlinks, The Fire Within, Dragonology and Icefire. (Yes, that's the reason for my name.)
Whatever you believe about dragons, I hope you enjoyed this fact smorgasboard.