Last week, I watched the DVD of a 2004 Animal Planet special called Dragon’s World: A Fantasy Made Real. It was made to look like a real documentary, and the cover boasted that you too will believe. The graphics weren’t exactly convincing, but the story surely was.
Dragon’s World shares the story of several different dragons throughout history. Between computer-generated videos of those stories and descriptions of their biology is told the tale of a modern paleontologist who discovers that a supposed dragon hoax he is trying to debunk is no hoax at all—inarguable proof of dragons has been unearthed. It feels as serious and real as any other televised nature documentary, but there is one significant difference—this one never happened.
The show explained how dragons were built to fly, how they could have breathed fire, and why they declined as the human race advanced. They answered many other questions, too: Why did dragons survive when dinosaurs did not? How did they reproduce? What varieties of dragons were there?
It was hard to know what was real by the time the show was over. The makers of the show say it is all a big what-if, but they put a great deal of effort into designing biological and historical support for the possibility of dragons. Why would they try to persuade their audience to believe in an animal they don’t actually think exists?
After watching the careful construction of a believable family of reptiles and listening to the narrator point out how strange of a coincidence it is that cultures from Europe to Asia to South America all came up with detailed dragon legends and histories, I have just one more question:
Having successfully shown that dragons could have existed, why do these people still insist that they did not?
You can find previews and more information about Dragon’s World: A Fantasy Made Real on Animal Planet’s website here: http://animal.discovery.com/convergence/dragons/. You can find more speculations on the existence of dragons here, on Dragon’s Crossing, sprinkled throughout future posts.
Do you think dragons could be real? What makes you skeptical? Where did all the myths come from?
Postscript—I apologize to those of you who were looking for a second post last week. I unexpectedly got sick, and had to postpone blogging over the weekend. Thank you for your patience!