Years ago, I heard part of a legend about fossil skull being mistaken for that of a dragon. After doing some research, I’m happy to share the tale with you.
Klagenfurt, Austria, is a small city with a big story. It’s told that in Medieval times, this part of Austria was wilderness. People started to move in and settle near a lake with marshes all along the edges. Unfortunately, they soon learned that a lindworm lurked in those waters! Livestock and people fell prey to its terrible appetite, until a brave warrior managed to bring it down. Once the area was safe, the marshes were drained, and the historic city was built.
Generations passed down the legend of the lindworm. Then, sometime in the 1300s, the skull of a huge, mysterious creature was discovered near Klagenfurt. Nobody knew what it could be, so they decided it must be a last remnant of the fabled lindworm. This relic was displayed with honor in the town hall.
More centuries passed, and the latest batch of town fathers decided to install a large fountain commemorating the victory over the lindworm. The sculptor, Ulrich Vogelsang, borrowed the lindworm skull to use as a model. The impressive cast iron fountain, which looks about 30 feet long, was installed in 1590. Later, in 1636, a different sculptor added the figure of a heroic warrior confronting the lindworm.
Through various wars and disasters, the fountain and the supposed dragon skull both survived. As science advanced, scholars realized that the fossil skull was actually that of an Ice Age rhinoceros. Although the legend of the lindworm was not real, Ulrich Vogelsang is recognized as one of the first artists to try and represent any animal based on its fossil.