Dragons definitely existed, right? All (most of) the evidence is right there. There are stories about dragons dating back before the time of Gutenberg. And one flip through any dinosaur book will reveal a less-than-surprising similarity to the sometimes giant lizard-like creatures. Did they fly? Breathe fire? Lay massive, gorgeous eggs, or protect treasure? Those details are where the dragon myths start to look a little foggy. But we’re not quite ready to let go of the fantasy yet — even if how many types of dragons existed is up for debate. Along with, sadly, their actual existence.
Just think about it: Dragons weren’t consigned to one single culture. Throughout history and from across the globe, stories of dragons exist. You can find dragons in Chinese mythology as well as Scottish folklore. From scary tales you tell in the dark to actual parables rooted in religions, dragons find their way into every crevice of our shared history and storytelling. And, of course, there are the amazingly detailed dragons of Harry Potter and Skyrim or the dragon-like creatures of Pokémon.
What we do know, though, is that there is some pretty awesome dragon lore out there. Take a look!
Harry Potter Dragons
Leave it to J.K. Rowling to go all out on the details of even minor elements in the wizarding world. Take, for instance, the existence of dragons and their various species. A reference to a dragon, described by its looks alone, would have been enough. Instead, she built multiple dragon species, complete with interesting historical details so that we could even go so far as to rank them by fearsomeness. From New Zealand’s Antipodean Opaleye (the least deadly… if you’re a human) to the Ukrainian Ironbelly, there are roughly ten species of dragons in her world. The most terrifying? The Hungarian Horntail, of course!
- Antipodean Opaleye (New Zealand)
- Common Welsh Green (Whales)
- Hebridean Black (Scotland)
- Hungarian Horntail (Hungary)
- Liondragon AKA Chinese Fireball (China)
- Norwegian Ridgeback (Norway)
- Peruvian Vipertooth (Peru)
- Romanian Longhorn (Romania)
- Swedish Short-Snout (Sweden)
- Ukrainian Ironbelly (Ukraine)
Unsurprisingly, there are a ton of dragon-type Pokémon to choose from. Of course, of the 73 varieties, not all are full dragon-types. It’s also worth noting that dragon-type Pokémon aren’t all that powerful in the Poke-verse. For instance, of the top five highest-ranked dragons in Pokémon, only one, Charizard, breaks the top 100 ranked Pokémon. The top five highest-ranking dragon Pokémon are Charizard (#3), Exeggutor (#103), Dratini (#147), Dragonair (#148), and Dragonite (#149).
In the world of Skyrim, there are 16 named dragons. The most powerful are the Serpentine Dragon, Revered Dragon, Vulthuryol, Naaslaarum, and Voslaarum (you fight them at the same time, so they count together), and Legendary Dragon.
We should mention Dark Souls, too. While the game has several dragons, one stands out from the rest. The Gaping Dragon is fearsome to behold. Widely referred to by she/her pronouns, she looks like something out of Georgia O’Keeffe’s nightmares — if you catch our drift. It takes a special soul to fight off this gal and walk away unscathed. But the artistry and backstory make her a favorite.
Mythological and Folklore Dragons
There are hundreds of dragons from lore and mythology across the globe. We’re including a sampling of some of our favorite dragons from around the world.
- Chinese Dragon: Whatever you pictured upon seeing the words “Chinese Dragons” is most likely exactly right. You’ve no doubt seen this serpent-like, four-legged dragon a million times before. It’s supposed to represent power.
- Druk: Druk is from Tibetan and Himalayan Mythology. It’s believed the Druk were serpentine-like dragons that lived in remote parts of Mt. Everest. Some believe the Druk are protectors of Shangrila and others say they bring the sun and storms to the people of Tibet.
- Ryūjin: This is the Japanese sea god. In some versions of the Ryūjin tales, he had the ability to transform into a human.
- Wyvern: This is a pretty standard-looking winged English dragon. Though it originally was a different creature entirely, it is now used interchangeably in reference to dragons from the area. It is typically only drawn with two legs and is rarely shown breathing fire.
- St. Leonard’s Forest Dragons: There is a legend of “St. Leonard the Dragon Slayer” who lived in a local forest and slayed the last dragon of England.
- Y Ddraig Goch: This Welsh dragon’s name literally translates to, “the red dragon.” It’s often mentioned in Arthurian legends and is most notably in the flag of Wales.
- Gaasyendietha: A lake dragon from the Great Lakes region of Canada and the United States. You can find references in both Iroquois and Seneca mythology. It’s sometimes referred to as the “meteor dragon” because of its unique origin story.
- Quetzalcoatl: This one is from Aztec mythology. It has dragon-like features, though it’s often referred to as the “Quetzal-feathered Serpent.” Because, yeah — this dragon has feathers.
- The African Dragon: This mythical creature doesn’t look like your average dragon, but more like a giant snake. And that depends on who’s telling the story. In some tales, they have legs, and in others, they do not.
- The Lernaean Hydra Dragon: This beast has venomous breath, blood, and fangs! This water serpent can also have a hundred heads.
Quotes About Dragons
Dragons span across many cultures because historically, they’re just awesome. So, if you’re looking for a sweet caption for your sick new dragon tattoo, or wish to impart a few words of wisdom like you’re a Targaryen from Game of Thrones, we’ve got you covered.
“Noble dragons don’t have friends. The closest thing they can get is an enemy who is still alive.” — Terry Pratchett, Guards! Guards!
“Come not between the dragon, and his wrath.” — William Shakespeare, King Lear
“If the skies were able to dream, they would dream of dragons.” — Ilona Andrews, Fate’s Edge
“An adventure isn’t worth telling if there aren’t any dragons in it.” — Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance