How Dragons Breath Fire, Ice, Lightning, and more…
An informal essay written and © by A. Lynn Ferguson
Do not use without permission.
For many years now, I have been utterly fascinated... no... utterly OBSESSED with a certain fantasy beast we call the Dragon.
This creature is mighty. What one presence in the world has surpassed the seas, invaded every culture, dazzled rulers and emperors, stood as symbols of power for kingdoms, and is even in every religion on the planet (almost?). It isn’t God…
But a dragon is beautiful beyond words, and for all their mystery, prowess, and divinity, they are also so very human. Quintessential beings from all over the globe that can murder, can destroy, or can give great gifts of power and freedom to the masses.
In this essay, I am not going to DARE try to prove they exist... no way! So many skeptics, so many pessimists, so many people thinking INSIDE THE BOX, and by now it is thoroughly impossible to prove that they absolutely DID exist. But with so much presence in the entire world, and so many coincidences showering us with folklores of these magnificent creatures, I can only point out that its just as impossible to prove they DIDN’T exist.
So Many Theories… so Little Time…
I have been from website too website, read books upon books on the subject of dragons, both their existence and their daily living, and have taken in many theories on topic, and according to many theories… dragons were complicated. They were so complicated that this could be the reason why they may have died out (if that IS the case).
Those encountering the struggle of how dragons breathed fire often come to these conclusions (and they often go hand in hand with how dragons fly.)
Theory A: They were magickal
Theory B: The were natural blimp creatures, that used hydrogen to float, and then burned the excess off.
Theory C: They were really snakes that evolved big and then sparked their venom on fire with a flint in the back of their mouth.
Theory D: They used Platinum (a rare mineral/metal) to be a catalyst to light their fire, the same fire that made them fly.
Theory E: Dragons were really small creatures, and breathed fire for defense.
Not HOW… but WHY…:
If there is anything that I have learned, it is that we humans always ask all the wrong questions. We always ask “HOW” is it possible for a creature to be so big and fly so high? “HOW” would a creature breath ice and even lightning? But in Nature, the actual question really becomes “WHY” would a dragon want to fly at all? If a creature is “perfect” (like the alligator apparently is), then why would they change? If they are successful then why would they turn into something totally different?
Evolution only occurs when needed or when Nature has a reason to expand. Some creatures, like the alligator, have never had a reason to evolve beyond what they are. Then some creatures, such as majority of the dinosaurs, changed into something so very different (The T-Rex is said to have become the modern pigeon) we hardly recognize it.
So now that we have realized our folly, now we must ask the question WHY dragons breathed fire, and why they flew (which alludes to their breath weapons in the first place).
One of the most accepted theories in the world is that all creatures evolved from the ocean, and at first were a type of fish. Even dinosaurs first started as marine creatures, and dragons are certainly no different. In fact, dragons and dinosaurs were possibly close ancestors because both were colossal and both suddenly died without much explanation.
When creatures first began in the ocean, the great law was the bigger the fish the better, because the biggest fish always ate the little fish. This is why dragons were so huge, they had to become big to compete with their dinosaur brethren. This would mean that the first dragon to encounter the earth was a sea serpent, and this leads us to conclude that the first dragon was either a mistaken Plesiosaurus, or was the French dragon known as the Gargouilles/Lochness Monster. This was a terrifying sea serpent that spit water at passing ships (Gargouilles means to gargle and is the root word for Gargoyle).
If dragons started as swimming creatures, and they had to be creatures that were elegant, fast, but big, then they probably had to evolve a swim bladder like a fish. It is quite possible that Plesiosaurus had a swim bladder even, in fact, probably likely (but this we may never know because organs don’t show in fossils). But to be so big and have such a large bladder had to become a complex thing for the ancestral Gargouilles dragons (which were long serpentine eels of sorts), so they developed a special swim bladder similar to a submarine.
Like both the older and modern submarines, the Gargouilles would adjust its buoyancy by balancing the water to air ratio in its entire air body/swim bladder. If the Gargouilles is similar to a snake or an electric eel, then it is likely to say that the its entire body was filled with a great lung (like the sea serpents or plesiosaurus) and the Gargouilles would at intervals fill this with water or air, depending on whether it wanted to sink or float.
When a Gargouilles came to the surface, it was said to spit water at passing French ships as a means of a defense (this is the forerunner to the fire-spitting dragons of legend). It could also be said that a sea serpent spitting water was emptying its massive swim-bladder in order to rise to the surface.
But the Gargouilles was (is) a huge creature. Like the giant squid, it most likely spent its time at the bottom of the ocean where it felt comfy, and would rarely comes to the surface but to hunt. With such a giant lung dedicated to keeping buoyancy, then there is little room left for another lung to keep air. How would such an air-breathing creature stay put for so long?
This is where the dragon’s process of manufacturing and separating gases would come into play, like all the theories mentioned before. A Gargouilles was massive, and had a massive swim bladder that would not allow for big lungs to hold air, so a Gargouilles began manufacturing ITS OWN oxygen, by separating the oxygen and hydrogen from the surrounding water. That is the reason WHY dragons became giant, and WHY they began breathing numerous things for defense. A Gargouilless used natural electrolysis to produce a good portion of its own oxygen.
Because a Gargouilless produces a good majority of its own air, this could be the reason why we hardly ever see the Lochness Monster (which is either a Plesiosaurus or Gargouilles, because marine animals hardly ever change) arise. These creatures hardly have need to come to the surface, and like the giant squids they most likely feed on, they are terrifying when they do appear. If a Gargouilles did need to suddenly come to the surface for air or to hunt, then they would most likely come out spitting water to empty their bladders and release the hydrogen they separated from the oxygen.
So the first dragon to come into existence was a limbless, flightless, water-breathing/spitting serpent that used natural electrolysis to help it sustain life underwater. But like all creatures in the ocean, there came a time when the Gargouilles had offspring that ventured onto land like the rest of the dinosaurs around it.
(So Lochness Monster has been picking on France this whole time, not England we’re looking in the wrong place)
So in following the trend of Nature, fish ventured on land. Some would turn back into marine animals like the dolphin (or the modern day version of the Gargouilles that continues to elude us). Some kept a similar shape and became alligators and rest of the dinosaur populace. The dragon in particular, probably kept some of its fins (which would eventually aid some species in flight), and developed limbs. This is where much legend finds the great Wyrm dragon, and where the Orient spots the first Eastern Dragon.
In ancient China and Japan, the dragon is a serpentine creature that lacks wings but has strange feelers similar to a catfish (Very coincidental considering we are theorizing a creature that has just came from the ocean) and flowing manes (that might have been fins, but we shall never know). These dragons were often associated with the rain and the sea, which would be likely if they are the missing link between sea serpents and western dragons. They may have been amphibious, and are not recorded for having breathed fire or water.
But if one does travel down the line, some Eastern dragons do appear with wings, so this may further conclude the theory that Eastern dragons were the prelude to the fire-breathing great winged Western Dragons (which didn’t live only in the West, I’m sure). Now at some point in time, these Eastern Dragons were still competing with the Dinosaurs.
In order to gain an edge on survival, and in following the rest of Nature’s trend (which was the eventual transformation of dinosaurs into birds), the dragons started to fly. Many still remained big and were still trying to compete with the dinosaur. So Nature turned their swim bladders into flight bladders, which filled with Hydrogen and turned the dragon into a natural blimp.
But the dragon still had to get rid of the Hydrogen (just like the Gargouilles would spit out water on occasion). How did they do this efficiently? Their already present natural forms of electrolysis (from the electric eel days) again, probably developed into the dragon spine (seeing as how a spine already carries a charge). If this is true, then we could say that an electrical spark lay ahead for the passing hydrogen, and this would ignite hydrogen into fire (instead of evolving further, and forming flint in the mouth).
So a creature on land would pass the hydrogen into their body, utilize it to fly (since they are now out of water anyways), and the electricity in their spine would ignite the fire. This beget the Fire-breathers of popular legend, and indeed, they probably were the most popular dragons on the planet for some time. This is a much smoother and more practical evolution and theory for the dragon then other theories.
Some dragons breathed acid, others breathed gas, so how do we explain them? When the Eastern Dragons clawed out of the ocean and began to turn into flyers, it can be assumed not all evolved equally. Some dragons may have evolved their electrolysis system to take apart hydrochloric acid (stomach acid) instead of water, and the end result was that they would burn the hydrogen and spit the chloride.
Chloride is a very nasty ingredient, and in nature it originally occurs as a powder. If mixed with water, it would turn into an acid (for the acid breathers) or turn into a dense fog (for the gas breathers). This effect is similar to chlorine tablets that get wet, but it is very amplified in a dragon. Acid breathers and Gas Breathers most likely lived in the desert, where the need to conserve water was great, so they substituted stomach acid instead.
At this point, and with this theory, the so-called “lightning” breathers were dragons that developed an extra strong electrolysis gland to spark their hydrogen. In dragons that remained flightless (like perhaps the basilisk or the thunder bird/quezacotyl), this would produce a terrifying spark in things that it bit (just like its old ancestor the electric eel). If this is not the case, then it could be available in dragons that don’t have much hydrogen to spark in times of stress, and they flaunted the apparent “lightning” in their mouths to scare off potential threats (that would sure as all scare me, anyway.)
Then the last (but not least) are the ice breathers. Again I must ask the question WHY dragons breathed ice, and not fire. My answer is this: Most ice dragons are alluded to coming from the cold north. If ice dragons lived amongst the icy glaciers and snowy caverns of the northern and southern lands, then their fire could turn into a potential threat to themselves if they were to accidentally melt their own homes, or start an avalanche. So the ability in ice dragons to breath fire diminished, the electrolysis gland dwarfed, and they breathed a mixed carbon/hydrogen air instead.
How did this freeze? Well the answer is simpler than some suspect, and I can compare the effect to the cans of compressed air used to clean computers. If one holds canned air over their hand and sprays continuously, frostbite is bound to happen. So an ice dragon evolved a more compressed version of the flight bladder, and a stronger gullet to push the hydrogen out, and this created the canned-air effect (and probably froze the dragon’s saliva in the meantime). This became useful so a dragon wouldn’t hurt itself.
Well if they all died out with the dinosaurs, than water-breathing Nessie is the only one left, alongside the mysterious “thunder bird” (Or Queazacotyl?) of Native American myth. Maybe they were spirits, gods, and deities that have faded away in the modern world, seen only by children and the insane (stop looking at me sideways). But dragons were depicted as being wise creatures in Oriental Legend. What if the dragons were an advanced species, knew of the impending doom to come to the dinosaurs, and they simply escaped off planet? Maybe they wrote the hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy alongside the dolphins? Or what if they’re Martians and their leader is really Elvis or… okay I’m going to stop know….
Hope you enjoyed J