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Creation 23(4):56, September 2001

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Editor’s note: As Creation magazine has been continuously published since 1978, we are publishing some of the articles from the archives for historical interest, such as this. For teaching and sharing purposes, readers are advised to supplement these historic articles with more up-to-date ones suggested in the Related Articles below.

Crouching tiger, hidden dinosaur?


The entry in A Chinese-English Dictionary (published in China in 1979) for dragon gives the meanings as:

  1. dragon

  2. imperial (as in imperial robe)

  3. a huge extinct reptile: dinosaur

  4. a surname.

Clearly, the dictionary recognizes that dragons were real animals and the language also connects dinosaurs to them. Indeed, the characters rendering ‘dinosaur’ in a paleontology context, (‘konglong’ 恐龙), literally mean ‘fearsome dragon’—remember that the English word ‘dinosaur’ was not invented until 1841.

Image: geocities.com/bernardburn Complex Chinese symbol for ‘dragon’
The traditional (complex) way of writing ‘dragon’. Chinese people see the right part as reflecting the spiny back and tail of the dragon.

Also, there are many sayings in Chinese that connect dragons with still-living animals, such as tigers. For example:

  • ‘like a coiling dragon and crouching tiger’—meaning a forbidding strategic point. A variation on this saying inspired the title of the recent award-winning Chinese movie, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, meaning a benign looking place with powerful hidden forces.

  • ‘dragon’s pool and tiger’s den’—meaning a dangerous place.

  • ‘dragons rising and tigers leaping’—meaning a scene of bustling activity.

Furthermore, of the twelve symbols used in the Chinese lunar calendar cycle, eleven are real animals (pig, rat, rabbit, tiger, etc.), suggesting that the remaining one, the dragon, is equally real.

The above evidence is consistent with identifying dinosaurs with the dragons of Chinese history as real animals that have lived not too long ago. This contradicts the whole idea of an ‘age of dinosaurs’ millions of years before people existed, and further supports the Biblical account of the real history of the world.

Readers’ comments

Philip R.
David C said, "David E. Jones argues that belief in dragons is so widespread among ancient cultures because evolution embedded an innate fear of predators in the human mind."
But what's his actual evidence for that, David?
Or is this just an 'evolution of the gaps' argument?
Wally V.
Hello Don (Long time no see/no talk) but I do have this question for you. In all of this fossilised, flood Event upheaval ... I am genuinely puzzled by the lack of human fossils (or mention of them) and/or why I have not heard of anything 'human fossilised' located in relative proximity of any 'dinosaur' remnants (i.e. fossils or parts of)Wally with the wheelchair Australia Victoria Melbourne.
Don Batten
Hi Wally,
This question is answered in chapter 15 of the Creation Answers Book, Where are the human fossils?
Stephanie V.
Just purchased dire dragons. Was looking for exactly something like this.

I'm wondering how secular scientist respond to the protein, red blood cells etc. that are being found in the bones? I can't really find that much about it. And how they respond to the evidence that people did know how the dinosaurs looked like according to the many depictions that have been found?
Don Batten
See Dinosaur soft tissue evolutionist responses, and the updates at the end. The latest attempt to explain it is the 'toast' hypothesis.
Vance N.
Dear Likai M.,

I have studied this topic for about twenty years. I focussed on China and Chinese artifacts for a number of years. I found it interesting that the further back in time one went in China, the more realistic the depictions (of dragons) were when compared to reconstructions of dinosaurs (or other supposedly extinct reptiles). Accurate examples exist from the Hongshan Culture. These can be seen in my book mentioned below.

However as one progresses toward the present, the dragon depiction became standardized, and essentially this more “modernized” version does not resemble in detail either early artifacts or dinosaurs/“extinct” reptiles. So in essence, this more recent dragon depiction from China is mainly mythological. (Memories had become faded over time.)

I hope this helps. See my book, Untold Secrets of Planet Earth: Dire Dragons for more information, available from Creation Ministries International.

Vance Nelson
Tammy S.
This is so good! I purchased Dire Dragons a while ago, and it was also eye-opening and informative. Years ago, I used to wonder why the Chinese calendar would include 1 "mythical" creature among a host of real ones; and even more - where did the myth even come from? All humans are born as new creatures with no formed images of what might exist on the planet, thus everything visual must be inspired by some external source (physical or spiritual). There had to be some beginning of this idea of dragons. Many years later, it's quite satisfying to find out that the explanation is so simple!
David C.
Your illustration is a perfect example of a children’s fictional cartoon. Dragons fall into one of these channels (courtesy of Smithsonian magazine): Ancient people may have discovered dinosaur fossils and understandably misinterpreted them as the remains of dragons. Chang Qu, a Chinese historian from the 4th century B.C., mislabeled such a fossil in what is now Sichuan Province. The Nile Crocodile. Native to sub-Saharan Africa, Nile crocodiles may have had a more extensive range in ancient times, perhaps inspiring European dragon legends by swimming across the Mediterranean to Italy or Greece. The Goanna. Australia is home to a number of species of monitor lizards, also referred to as Goannas. Ancient humans encountering whale bones would have no way of knowing that the animals were sea-based, and the idea of such gargantuan creatures might well have led people to assume that whales were predatory. The human brain. David E. Jones argues that belief in dragons is so widespread among ancient cultures because evolution embedded an innate fear of predators in the human mind. Just as monkeys have been shown to exhibit a fear of snakes and large cats, Jones hypothesizes that the trait of fearing large predators—such as pythons, birds of prey and elephants—has been selected for in hominids. Dragons are folklore and highly flammable safety hazards on arks, but thanks for trying Don.
Don Batten
Nice try, David! The Smithsonian? Yes, a nice source of neutral observations on all manner of topics concerning origins, eh? :-)
Everyone who wants to believe in the mythology of deep time and/or evolution (the only view permitted in the Smithsonian) has to deny the possibility of dinosaurs existing with humans. If the multi-faceted historical evidence for this very thing were allowed to penetrate the concrete walls of naturalism erected to keep out unwanted thoughts and it were acknowledged that dinosaurs did not die out on earth 66 million years ago, then of course the whole evolutionary facade would come crashing down.
I hope our readers find amusement in your grasping-at-straws 'explanations' for the historical records of clearly-identified dinosaurs/dragons. For example, that the magic wand of 'evolution' planted fear of large creatures into our brains, etc. Carl Sagan saw some of the evidence that dragons and dinosaurs were one and the same and it bothered him. I think he was the first one to posit that 'evolution' programmed us with a memory of dinosaurs (because of our supposed reptilian origins), which gave rise to dragon stories, etc. See: The year the water dragon roared.
And we also have abundant scientific evidence that dinosaur fossils are not at least 66 million years old, but much younger. See (e.g.): Double decade dinosaur disquiet. And there's much more on creation.com, including dealing with the pathetic attempts to explain away the scientific evidence as well!
Keep thinking David!
Margaret P.
I've just found out the title of a folk song which is about a 'Worm' (dinosaur) which grew to a huge size and ate cattle, sheep and humans. It's probably referring to a dinosaur witnessed by people who put their experience into song. It's called The Lambton Worm and you can see the lyrics if you search online for it.
Dianne W.
I've long been of mind that the Scottish Loch Ness 'monster' is a still existing relic from those days with underground caverns etc. Just saying..
Don Batten
There have been so many thorough searches made for 'Nessie' that I am convinced that there is nothing there now.
Karen K.
I began to realize dragons were real from reading Job 41 where God describes Leviathan as a real animal that flashes fire from its mouth. It’s clear in that passage that God was not describing a myth. And pterodactyls look just like every description of a flying dragon that I’ve ever read. There’s also are so many accounts of dragons in ancient writings that we just assumed to be myth. It took me a long time to conclude dragons were real, mainly because I had to get over the effect of hearing that evolution is real, my whole life. Evolution is the real myth.
Chris M.

Last week I was in Utah and Arizona for vacation. We stopped at a place outside of Tuba City Arizona that claimed to have dinosaur tracks on their Navajo land. So we stopped and sure enough there laid countless dinosaur tracks, fossilized eggs, and even dinosaur poop (at least according to this Navajo man). They even had a skeleton of a raptor exposed right there in the middle of this. He claimed all these tracks were 130 million years old and used all the talking point we hear about all the time (evolved from birds, etc).

As I stood there I just couldn’t get myself to believe that those foot prints and that Skelton had been there for 130 million years old. As much time as I’ve spent on this site, I couldn’t do anything but just sit there and think about this website. But I have a couple questions:

1. How recent do Creation scientists believe dinosaurs died off? If we don’t believe they are 130 million years old, then what’s are age? If Job was writing about one then I’d have to assume we’re talking 3,000-4,000 years or so ago?

2. How were so many different kinds of dinosaurs able to evolve (micro-evolution) in such a short time from leaving the Ark, covering most of the earth, and then dying off?

3. As far as finding red blood cells, soft tissues, etc in Dino bones like we do, would we expect to find the same thing if we dug up a human skeleton that was, let’s say, 200-300 (or older) years old?
Don Batten
1. The historical evidence suggests that their complete extinction only happened recently, as in the last couple of hundred years. Vance Nelson's beautifully-illustrated and documented book, Dire Dragons provides powerful evidence along these lines.
2. The number of created kinds is almost certainly less than 100. Please see (e.g.): Too many dinosaur names. I think that there were possibly 35 or so. The variation within a created kind is not great (think of the variety of dog breeds that there are). The extent of coverage of the earth after the Flood is not known (we can't go on where fossils are found, as the fossils were formed during the inundatory phase of the Flood).
3. Depending on the circumstances of burial and preservation, you might expect to find evidence of proteins, DNA, etc., in a human skeleton of that age.
Please check out the wealth of articles at Dinosaur questions and answers.
Rev Robert W.
Yes, there is no question that the dinosaurs of our current dig-ups survived into our recent history, and were known in the old-time Germanic tongues (English, German, Dutch, Norse) by several names - such as weavil, worm, and so on - until we started to wield the Greek name for them, dragon (from draken). The King James Authorised Version, of 1611, uses the word 'dragon,' as it is written in Early Modern English where the Greek, dragon, has superseded, the Old English word, weavil. More up-to-date versions should consider using the word dinosaur or the phrase 'large reptile'.
Likai M.
I am a Chinese Christian. Most, if not all, parents will tell their kids dragon is a mythical animal, rather than a real one. Chinese dragon has clear definition and characteristics. The description in Wikipedia is a good one: Sinologist Henri Doré lists these characteristics of an authentic dragon: "The antlers of a deer. The head of a crocodile. A demon's eyes. The neck of a snake. A tortoise's viscera. A hawk's claws. The palms of a tiger. A cow's ears. And it hears through its horns, its ears being deprived of all power of hearing." Dragon has lots of details in the myth. For example, it even has nine sons. Dragon meant much more in old China. The Wikipedia page is a very nice reference.
Don Batten
Thanks for your comment, which reflects the current view of dragons (as mythological). The point of the article is that in history, dragons were real creatures. The stories of the real creatures have been embellished by repeated story telling over the years, but the evidence supports the origin of the stories being from real animals (dinosaurs). Please read the Related articles, which provide more evidence for the dragons being dinosaurs in history, for example: Chinese Camarasaurus. And there are many others articles linked from the linked articles!

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