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Posts Tagged ‘Real-Life Dragons’

Since at least 2012, Florida residents have reported sightings of large lizards in neighborhoods that border canals and other waterways. The most persistent sightings, in late 2017, described an animal around 5 feet long (1.5 meters), drab green with white or yellow bands. It was thought to be a Water Monitor, but possibly a Nile or Savannah Monitor.

As reported in this news story, Florida wildlife officials stated that the lizard posed no risk to humans, but cats and small dogs could have been in danger if the animal got hungry. No one knew where such a creature could have come from. Perhaps it had escaped from captivity during one of the frequent hurricanes, or an irresponsible owner had released it into the wild.

The public was enlisted in an extensive effort to capture the potentially invasive reptile. People who spotted it were asked to take photos and give precise information on where and when they saw it. State wildlife officers then set traps around Key West in an effort to humanely capture the lizard. They did capture a smaller (2 ft long) Savannah Monitor, but the big guy remained at large. (Ha ha.)

Eventually the owner came forward to help with the search. Kevin Hennings explained that Poseidon, the Water Monitor, had indeed escaped his enclosure after Hurricane Irma damaged it. Once Poseidon was spotted, Hennings was able to approach and lure his pet with food. As of November 7, 2017, Poseidon had been returned home. Hennings planned to make improvements on his habitat and avoid a repeat of Poseidon’s big adventure.

Although this case ended happily, Florida is prime habitat for all sorts of tropical creatures. Wildlife officials have warned for years that other large reptiles are invading their state. Of particular concern are Boa Constrictors, which have established a permanent population and are wreaking havoc on the native wildlife. The state has  even begun having annual Boa Derbies to control the spread of these invaders.

It seems that it’s only a matter of time before they experience another dragon invasion.


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Wyrmflight Here it is, the cover for Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore! Thanks so much to everyone who offered feedback. I think I was able to combine ideas pretty well.

Now, the back cover matter:

DO YOU LOVE DRAGONS? (I KNEW YOU WOULD SAY YES!)

Then let me tell you about my blog…

Since 2012, Wyrmflight is the blog for everyone who loves dragons. I’ve had so much fun researching and writing about them, I decided to assemble my favorite posts. It’s a true hoard of dragon lore. (Get it?)

Here you’ll find the great dragons of mythology and folklore from around the world. Discover fascinating true stories about real dragons. (There are more of them than you think!) Plus a few reviews, jokes and poems about dragons.

So come into the dragon’s lair! (If you dare…)

What do you think? (Are there too many parentheticals?) As before, your insights and suggestions are most welcome.

Much tweaking remains to be done, but I’m hoping to get this out within the next week or so. That will allow me to focus on my next pressing assignment, the programming schedule for SpoCon.


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Many kinds of creatures have been named after dragons, but perhaps the most colorful are the Dragon millipedes. Desmoxytes are a family of nearly 40 arthropods found in Southeast Asia. The first of these were identified in China in 1923. New species continue to be found as recently as 2016. In addition to China, they live in Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and scattered through the islands of Malaysia.

Some of this Dragon clan are cave dwellers, while others roam the leaf-litter of jungle floors. It sounds as though they might be fierce predators, but actually most millipedes feed on decaying leaves and fungi. In addition to hiding among forest debris, many species burrow into the ground for safety.

These critters are indeed tiny, with the largest specimens coming in around 3 cm (1.2 inches) long. They are recognizable by their ornate, spiky exoskeletons and brilliant colors, including red and hot pink species. In addition, Dragon millipedes have a chemical weapon — they can secrete a cyanide poison to ward off predators!


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Here’s another re-blog about dragons at war. This one is from February 2013.


No, it’s not like the gold standard! Although, given the reputed size of some dragon hoards, dragons could BE the gold standard. But what I’m referring to here is using the dragon as a battle standard.

Lots of countries and individuals have used the dragon as their personal or military symbol. It’s easy to see why. Western dragons are huge and powerful. Using that as your emblem could certainly give your enemies pause. I’ve previously mentioned that a red dragon was the national symbol of Wales, before it became incorporated into Great Britain.

Eastern dragons, on the other hand, still convey power, but also wisdom and grace. So Bhutan, for instance, uses a white dragon on its flag. The white dragon conveys the beauty and serenity of this Himalayan kingdom.

One of the most fun and interesting dragon symbols I’ve read about is the Dacian draco. In Roman times, Dacia was a region in Eastern Europe between the Black Sea and the Carpathian Mountains. The modern countries of Moldova and Rumania, plus parts of Serbia, Hungary, Solvenia, Poland, Ukraine and Bulgaria, lie within the ancient domain of Dacia.

You’ve probably figured out already that the dragon was Dacia’s battle emblem. What’s fun is that they actually made a dragon that would roar, and they carried it at the front of their armies.

The draco was a metal tube decorated to look like a dragon, although the surviving images look rather more wolf-like than draconic. Behind the head was a fabric covering. The open mouth contained several thin metal strips.

This contraption was mounted on a pole and carried at the head of the Dacian armies by a man on a horse. Once he reached full gallop, the fabric would flow behind him, moving as if alive. Meanwhile, the metal pieces in the dragon’s mouth caught the wind and emitted a piercing shriek, amplified by the tube. Viola — a dragon that roared!


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After telling you about the Black Dragon, a type of U. S. artillery during World War II, I can’t resist re-blogging another type of “dragon” from the same conflict. I hope you’ll enjoy this repeat from March of 2015.


(Dragon’s teeth) … are a type of fortification first used in Europe during World War II. They consist of three- to four-foot tall pyramids or cones, made of concrete, that are massed in a line or field along a battle front.

The idea was to create a barrier that tanks couldn’t easily penetrate. Often there would be several consecutive formations that had to be overcome, while the defender’s line of fire would not be impeded.

Not only were the dragon’s teeth themselves installed, but the ground surface would be prepared with sunken concrete slabs, making it difficult to undermine the teeth. Many formations included additional barriers such as barbed wire and mines to stop infantry, or steel beams to foul tank treads. Sometimes the “teeth” had metal spikes on top, as well.

In practice, dragon’s teeth weren’t as effective as one might expect. Combat engineers found ways to remove them, and it was easy enough for bulldozers or dump trucks to cover these areas with earth, creating a surface that tanks could navigate. At the end of World War II, many of the installations were left in place. Historians and tourists are free to visit these former battle fronts.

Today, a few variations on dragon’s teeth are still employed around the world. Dragon’s teeth are part of the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. Similar devices, such as spike strips, are laid down by police to stop fleeing vehicles, and some parking lots use them to prevent people from leaving without payment.

Sometimes even dragons are useful!


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Unlike the mysterious heath-dragons of legend, these heath dragons are actual, living creatures. Heath dragons are a group of lizards native to Australia. They are members of the Agamid family, close cousins of iguanas.

The natural habitat for heath dragons is open forest, sandy scrub and, yes, heath lands. They mostly prey upon larger insects, such as grasshoppers and crickets. Most of them are patterned with gray, brown and tan as camouflage. They mostly prey upon larger insects, such as grasshoppers and crickets.

These lizards are small, about 21 cm/8 in, and have a wary nature. They prefer to stay under cover of rocks or hide beneath fallen leaves. Sometimes they will bury themselves in sand. It’s thought they do this to help regulate their temperature in Australia’s summer heat.

Heath dragons can be taken as pets and seem to adapt well to human keeping. They are not the most famous pet lizards, though, so this trade doesn’t seem to effect their long term prospects. No species of heath dragons are currently listed as threatened or endangered.


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Wine-holding dragon. Photo by Deby Fredericks, December 2017.

Here’s a friendly and helpful dragon, seen on a store shelf at Christmas time. It even guards your wine bottle for you!

 


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