It would have taken quite a few turns for natural selection to have produced dragons, but if you're willing to stretch a bit, most classic dragon characteristics do exist in other species. They just don't come packaged in one animal.
First up on the dragon checklist: flying. Dragon wings are usually depicted in one of two ways—a third pair of limbs connected to the backbone, or webbed forearms. Jack Conrad, a paleontologist and reptile expert at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, thinks the latter is more plausible.
"It seems that six appendages are very unlikely in vertebrates," he says. "The only thing close to having six limbs are these frogs in the western part of the U.S. that get this bad parasite and end up generating extra limbs. Even then, the new limbs are identical to the hind limbs, and the frogs don't do well. It seems that anytime nature tries to generate a vertebrate hexapod, it dies. That seems to be the main limitation."
In Conrad's opinion, the leathery wings of a pterosaur are the best possible flight mechanism for a giant lizard. "Quetzalcoatlus had a 30-foot wingspan," he says. "That would do the trick." Big, strong wings are necessary to compensate for the weight of a dragon's skin, which, of course, would need to withstand bow-and-arrow attacks. "Let's throw a little alligator in there for armor," Conrad says. An alligator's skin, he explains, is made partly of bony plates. When European settlers first encountered the reptiles, the skin proved to be tough enough to turn away a musket ball, plenty strong for a dragon.
OK, so we've got a very large alligator with the wings of a pterosaur that can repel musket fire. Now it just needs to breathe flames. This is where no parallel exists—there are no known animals that can spit fire or even a flammable liquid. But there are some beetles that can shoot caustic chemicals from their abdomen that can burn people's skin, so it's not totally out of the question that some animal at some point in time could make a flammable liquid. Cobras can spit venom with great accuracy at objects six feet away; the dragon could borrow that ability to propel the flammable liquid. As for lighting it? "Well, maybe, if you had some specialized organ like an electric eel's tail dangling in the mouth, that could spark that liquid and allow the creature to breathe fire," Conrad says. "Of course, this is all very theoretical."
This article originally appeared in the August 2010 issue of Popular Science magazine.
Penquins could be ruling the earth had our alien overlords\annunaki like them better, LoL.
Silly what ifs.....
Right after reviving the mastodon this will be sciences next great achievement shortly followed by japanese cat girls.
Old stories have at lease some basis in reality.
Only certain deficient worldviews can't put 2 and 2 together to understand where the notions of dragons came from.
Sort of silly hearing a scientist hypothesize the evolution of dragons. But hey, why not?
I find it interesting that dragons, or dragon like creatures, appear in literature all over the world. Even the Bible mentions "dragon" fairly frequently.
The wyvern makes the most sense with one set of legs and a forward set of wings akin to a bat. Their tails were also said to be venomous. As for fire breathing, the bombardier beetle produces micro-explosions by spitting chemicals out its hind quarters. It is not at all impossible that a dragonisque creature would have a similar mechanism for spitting fire, theoretically a snake's venom glands could work perfectly. Reign of Fire did very well with that sort of 'build'.
You post the same negative comment in every one of these articles. The first step in Science is always a "what if". Sure it's speculation, but if you use it to form new hypotheses and links between ideas, it becomes a thought experiment. What happens if I put a cat in a box with a geiger counter and poison? What happens if I drive a car at light speed and turn on the headlights? Any question can lead to enlightenment if you bother to try to answer it.
You make some valid points and in others you do not.
Yes, ‘what if scenarios’ can be healthy to speculate or just stories for a writer with nothing real to write about. Take care. ;)
Spitting fire is completely possible - the Bombardier beetle, after all, doesn't shoot one liquid, but two which produce great heat when mixed together. It's quite plausible that two natural chemicals exist which could, when mixed, produce enough heat to combust. These chemicals would be sprayed from somewhere around the animal's face (doesn't have to be in the mouth) such that they would mix midair and combust. Imagine the mixture is like Greek Fire in consistency, and you've painted a picture of an organism every creature on the planet would quickly learn to fear.
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Since Darwinian evolution is a belief versus actual science I will go with "wouldn't happen" since this process is not observable, testable, nor reproducible. Darwinian evolution as the article covers is not science but is blind faith. Don't take my word for it, watch Evolution vs God and let the actual evolutionary scientist tell you themselves that this is a belief. Speciation and adaptation never produce a new Kind. A finch is always a finch, a fish is always a fish, and bacteria is always bacteria. Watch the video and see the scientists themselves tell you this in their own words.
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What a silly question they ask, dragons would not exist if the evolution changed. they already exist! if you don't believe me, then go watch judge Judy or something cause im not going to argue with non-believers.