I’m becoming increasingly interested in dragon art from ancient cultures.

I want my dinosaurs to look like real animals, and I’m suspicious of paleo-art that copies the same ideas over and over. Especially when new details come to light, like maybe dinosaurs were skinnier than we draw them, or the big sauropods had long spikes on their backs. This sends ripples of shock through the paleo-artist community, and the art fluctuates wildly.

S8int.com had a great post this past week, Crouching Dragon, Hidden Dinosaurs. His premise is that dinosaurs are never allowed to be portrayed as dragonish, because people might draw a connection between dinosaurs and dragons in ancient cultures. Especially dragons that looked very dinosaurish.

Anyway, as I was looking at all these dragons from all these cultures, I noticed that the sauropod-looking ones all have some kind of feather thing on their heads. Spikes? Ears? I don’t know. But across all cultures, they all have this thingy on their heads. A lot of times they have a spiky dewlap under their chins, too.

So I took a whack at it.

Just some random sketches to conceptualize it. It makes little prosauropods look very dragonish, doesn’t it?

I also found this site, which has even more great pictures of dragons from various cultures. They even have skin comparisons, comparing the artwork to skin imprints we’ve dug up (they match).

I think I’m going to tackle the cerotopsians next (like triceratops). They’re drawn as “dragons”, too, and they have spiky bits on their backs, as well as this kind of armor shell thing on their backs, like really tough hide.

4 thoughts on “Dino-dragons

  1. I loved the article from Saint, I loved looking at all of those pictures and they looked like they were just normal animals, not freaking at all. I will check out the other site you found.


  2. Interesting….

    I read once, somewhere and I wish I could remember where, that a chinese dragon is just a blend of other creatures. Body of a snake, eyes of a demon, ears like a cow, mane of a lion, whiskers of a catfish, talons of an eagle, etc. Think there was one description that even included a camel.

    But yea, now that you mention it, those kinds of lists hardly ever mentioned reptiles much less dinosaurs. Which is, in retrospect, strange.


    1. A chinese dragon is also the only “mythical” creature in their zodiac, which makes you wonder if maybe the dragon was a real creature that got converted to myth. Also, dragons in other cultures look similar to the Chinese dragon. Maybe they all based their images off a real creature?


  3. Hrm. And maybe the real dragon was so coveted that the entire species got hunted to extinction and then every single part of it got sold/enshrined/decorated up to the point of being either very hard to find or impossible to confirm the true identity of. Wait, I’m pretty sure that I’ve already read that story somewhere…

    But it is an interesting idea, nonetheless. And given how mixed up and wacky some of our actual ‘history’ already is… Yea. Dragons are not impossible.


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