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Posts Tagged ‘Real-Life Dragons’

We might not think of dragons as medical miracle-workers, but scientists have announced a breakthrough in the search for new antibiotics. The source? Komodo dragons!

Biologists have long known that Komodo dragons have some really nasty bacteria in their mouths. If these big lizards can’t overpower their prey, they use a long-acting bacterial weapon as their fall-back. Any animal bitten by a Komodo dragon will develop a serious infection known as sepsis. It might take a few days, but the dragon follows its prey until the infection kills it. Then, it’s dinner time.

However deadly their mouth bacteria are, Komodo dragons themselves never seem to suffer from sepsis. Scientists decided to study them and figure out why. A team at George Mason Univerisity, led by Monique van Hoek, recently announced they had isolated a blood protein called DRGN-1. In laboratory tests, DRGN-1 was highly effective against some of the most notorious drug-resistant bacteria. Not even MRSA could stand against the dragon’s cure.

Although these are preliminary results, and much work remains to be done, van Hoek’s team hopes to develop a new antibiotic weapon for the ongoing battle against resistant diseases.

Our hero… the dragon?

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Just a few of my books:

Aunt Ursula’s Atlas, Lucy D. Ford’s short story collection

Masters of Air & Fire, Lucy D. Ford’s middle-grade novel

The Grimhold Wolf, my gothic werewolf fantasy, and my epic fantasy, The Seven Exalted Orders.

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bluedragon

Glaucus atlanticus is a little but lethal beast of the seven seas. Its nicknames include Blue Dragon, Blue Angel, and Sea Swallow. These are a type of sea slug, or nudibranch, that lives just at the ocean surface. Blue dragons spend most of their lives floating upside-down and drifting with currents and tides. They can swim slowly using their cerata, the delicate-looking fin/fingers, but mostly just hang out and wait for prey.

Their striking silver and blue coloration camouflages them in their marine habitat. The silvery back faces down, so that they disappear against the bright ocean surface, while the striped belly (actually the foot) faces up to blend with ripples and eddies.

Blue dragons are tiny, just over 1 inch long, but they are potentially quite dangerous. Their prey are jellyfish, whose stings they are naturally immune to. They can even take on large jellies like the Man-o-War. After eating, they save the jellyfish stingers in pockets on their cerata. Thus, though not venomous themselves, they can deliver a nasty sting when threatened.

Due to their drifting behavior, blue dragons are found almost everywhere the sea is warm, from Australia through India and South Africa, and up to Southern Europe. A separate but related species inhabits the Pacific Ocean. At present it does not appear these tiny dragons are threatened or endangered. They can be kept in aquariums because of their beautiful colors.

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Look what I found at the thrift store!

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Hafzilla is thirsty, too.

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A few years ago, my husband went to a sidewalk sale where a sportswear manufacturer was selling excess jerseys and such. He came home with several that had been demonstrator pieces showing the imprinting options. He isn’t into football, but it gave him something to wear when his company proclaimed a Football Friday at the office.

On such an occasion he wore a dark green jersey with yellow lettering that said DRAGONS. A suspicious co-worker asked, “What team is that?”

He said, “It’s a quidditch team!” All the staff who were readers broke out laughing.

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Since dragons are widely known for their ferocity and power, it shouldn’t be a surprise that many organizations have chosen dragons as their team mascots and symbols. Here in the US, there are:

The Dayton Dragons, a minor league basball team.
The Chesapeake Dragons and San Antonio Dragons play minor league hockey.
The Los Angeles Dragons, New York Dragons, and Wisconsin Dragons are minor league American-football teams. (Wisconsin is a women’s team.) Fantasy football, indeed!

Dragons are equally poplar with institutes for higher learning. The Drexel University, Lane College, Tiffin University, and Minnesota State University mascots are all Dragons. High schools like St. George’s School, in my home town, call the Dragons their own.

Internationally, there are at least three Dragon teams in China (ice hockey, baseball and basketball), two in South Korea (football), and one each in Japan (baseball) and the Philippines (basketball). Another three Dragon teams in Africa all play soccer. Teams in Europe play rugby, soccer and American football. No fewer than four Dragon teams play rugby in Australia and the Pacific Islands.

And this doesn’t even cover the sports league for dragon boat racing!

Check this Disambiguation Page for a total list of nearly fifty international Dragon sports teams. Whatever sports you follow, you can find some Dragons to cheer on!

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Those dragons, they are everywhere!

photo by Deby Fredericks

photo by Deby Fredericks

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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.

 

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