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Modern Dragons

Komodo dragon {kum-moh'-doh}

The largest living lizard, the Komodo dragon, live only in the vicinity of the Indonesia, for example, on Komodo island, for which they are named, and on two other tiny island in the Lesser Sundas group of Southeast Asia, the Komodo dragon is the world's largest living lizard, occasionally exceeding 10 feet (3 m) in length. Komodo dragons are carnivorous, feeding on animals as large as small deer and bush pigs. Their long, sharps claws enable them to disembowel large animals, and their jagged teeth aid them in tearing pieces from their prey. Komodo dragons, like other large monitors, can be formidable adversaries, even for humans, if these lizards are actually cornered. Komodo dragons swim well, sometimes swimming to small isles a half kilometer from shore to prey on domestic goats.
Surprisingly, this colossal creature remain unknown to science until as recently as 1912, but the natives of the region were well award of its existence and also its prowess as a man-killer. Heightening its dragonesque appearance is its bright yellow tongue, flickering out of its mouth in faithful facsimile of its mythical, fire-spiting namesakes.
These reptiles are endangered and are under strict protection by the Indonesian government.

The Komodo Dragon
La Presse, Montreal, Saturday, August 23, 1997. In section G-13.
Article available via E-Mail only.

The Winged Serpents of Wales

As recently as the mid-1800s, flying snakes of amazing beauty, with ornate feather wings, were believed to inhabit Glamorgan in Wales.

According to one old man who lived at Penllyne in Glamorgan and died early in the twentieth century, the woods around Penllyne Castle contained many of these extraordinary creatures when he was a boy. They were said to be brilliant in colour, as if spangled with sparkling gemstones, and, like the peacock's train, their wings often bore eyes; some also had rainbow-hued crests.
Yet despite their exquisite appearance, the winged serpents were slaughtered by the local people as if they were merely vermin because they preyed upon the farmer poultry. Indeed, the old's man father and uncle has killed several when he was a youngster. Now, they were apparently extinct. Flying serpents were also reported at Penmark Place, where one elderly woman claimed that there had even been a "king" and "queen" of these winged wonders.
If such serpents really did exist, what could they have been? Millions of year ago, Britain was home of Kuehneosaurus, and elongate lizardlike beast, whose ribs were extended to for a pair of membranous winglike structures that may have enabled it to glide through the air. Today, a similar creature still exist in the humid jungles of Southeast Asia, and is aptly knows as draco volans, or "flying dragon". It is not native in Europe, however, and even if some had escaped from captivity into woodlands of Wales, they would not have survived in its climate.
It has been suggested that brightly colored serpents with feathered wings spied in the Vale of Edeyrnion in 1812 may have been cock pheasants, which were unfamiliar there. But this theory does not explain the serpents' liking for poultry, and it is not likely that a pheasant could be mistaken for a flying snake.
There might once have been proof of their existence, for the Penmark woman stated that her grandfather had killed one of these beasts and kept its feathered skin until, after he died, his relatives discarded it. If they had been eager to do so, science may have been unable to unveil the identity of Wales's winged serpents.

Serpent of Wales

Dragons of Future

We need not mourn morosely the dragons of the past,
nor need we look with disappointed eyes on their zoologically uninspiring namesakes of the present.

For there are still bona fide, corporeal dragons, such as the long-neck, sea lizard, serpent whale, artrellia, inkhomi, tatzelworm and others of their cryptic kind to torment and tantalize the staid world of traditional zoology. And these creatures of controversy offers good reason indeed for believing that the future still holds many great surprises and joys in store for the dedicated dracontologist.
Similarly, far from diminishing in appeal as an irrelevant anachronism with the rapid approach of the ultra-scientific twenty-first century, the image of the dragon is experiencing a profound upsurge in international popularity that no human superstar could ever emulate. Today it is stunningly evoked and harnessed by modern technology for every conceivable purpose, including cinema, the toy and fashion industries, CD-ROM and promotional publicity campaigns of breathtaking artistic splendor.
It seems certain, therefore, (St. George notwithstanding) that the dragon -the embodiment of dynamic, uncompromising, irresistible power- will continue to evolve, diversify and populate our planet for a long time to come.

Dragon of the Futur
A late 20th-century dragon: this spectacular poster advertises Pirelli's "Dragon GT" motorcycle tyres.

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