The Origin of Dragons

Captain's log 45:

We finally found it! We found the last of the five dragon species. The species of sea dragons we have just located makes for a set of five holotype dragons. Since dragons are not the most ubiquitous of creatures on the Earth, it took us over 28 years to complete our search.

We spent years looking for the sea dragons where the fossil remains of their ancestors were at the depths of the Baltic Sea. After our search went dry, we started to search westward throughout Scandinavia, to the Faroe Islands, then Iceland, and eventually, Greenland as we found more fossil remains of the sea dragons. Then we detected something on the radar in an ice mass. When we arrived at the location, we were surprised to find the species protruding out of the ice as it was melting. There were twelve in total. Fortunately, all twelve sea dragons seemed to come back to life once we carefully removed them from the ice. The males had what could only be described as a pair of claspers similar to what is seen on male sharks. We only needed two, so we kept one male and one female and let the other ten swim off with the hope that they repopulate out at sea. If everything goes well, we may be able to get these two to reproduce in captivity.

Before finding the sea dragons, we located a western dragon that we tagged a long time ago. He was found traveling back and forth to the cliffsides of Scotland and Ireland. After many failed attempts of chasing it, we decided to wait and trap him at a reoccurring location in Ireland. The eastern dragon was found in a lake in rural China. Ironically, she had the characteristics of a Japanese dragon. The marsupial dragon was located in a burrow on an island off the coast of Western Australia. She had a pouch but no offspring. The first of the dragons was the Mesoamerican dragon we found deep underground in an open hollow area under an Aztec temple in Central Mexico.

The phenotypic characteristics of these dragons are like nothing we have ever seen. For example, the Mesoamerican dragon has a body that is serpent-like with scales lining the tail where there is a bushel of plumage at the tip. Unlike snakes, the upper body forms into two pectoral limbs that form wings and feathers that start from the head to the mid-section. The beak is the strangest feature as there are a top and bottom row of fangs. If you ever wanted to see a bird with peg-shaped teeth, this would be it.

With a more mammalian appearance, the marsupial dragon has kangaroo-like features with bat wings on the dorsal side of her body. Note, the specimen has a total of six limbs that consist of dorsal wings, ventral, pectoral-limbs, and hind-limbs. There is also a large tail that helps it to stand upright. The distance of jump trajectory was estimated at 5 meters forward and 3 meters high. She seems to use her wings to glide for a soft landing rather than for flight.

We made an interesting discovery with the eastern dragon in that she appears to match the description of Japanese folklore seeing how she has three digits or claws on each hand and foot. It is not certain whether this is a mutation unique to the individual or a trait seen in the rest of the population. It is hard to determine since she is the only eastern dragon we have seen so far. Her body has a thick coat of fur, and she has a head shaped like a wolf with fangs to match. The most noteworthy trait is that there are water sacs in her jewels that allow her to hold and spit a geyser of water with the pressure equivalent to that of a firehose. We know this because of the trouble she gave our team when capturing her.

Much like some large, winged dinosaur, the western dragon seems to fulfill expectations of a dragon right out of a medieval fairy tale. Our specimen has six limbs as does the marsupial dragon, and a long spike-studded tail. However, the western dragon is more quadrupedal by comparison. This specimen seems to prefer flying to gliding as he had to be captured in the air with large nets by our aviation specialists. He also has shown signs of being able to breathe fire. We assume the species has gizzard stones and flammable stomach gases that allow them to do this.

As for the sea dragon couple, we assume they also have gizzard stones they use for grinding up fish that they eat whole and a stomach gas that is as flammable as that of the western dragon. When they poke their heads out of the water, they too can spit quick bursts of fire from their mouths like western dragons. We have no idea why they would be capable of such a trait since they have gills and breathe underwater. They have a lengthy, bony body like an eel mixed with a coelacanth, and they even have charged proteins in their body to send an electronic shock into the water. This seems very complementary to the antifreeze proteins that allowed them to stray remain alive for so long.

After taking samples of scales, features, and hair, our top researchers did an isotopic analysis and found that these specimens could be between 300 and 500 years old. This is not a surprise for life on Earth since Greenland sharks are known to live that long.

Their external features make it difficult to group them in any given phylogenetic tree of life. In fact, they would be scattered among the many vertebrate species of the animal kingdom. Based on this assumption, what we refer to as a "dragon" would have evolved independently five times into the species that we are looking at now meaning that a dragon by definition characterizes multiple species that came about through convergent evolution. This is our first hypnosis. There is still the lingering possibility that these five creatures originated from one common ancestor based on their ability to live for so long and because of their similar elongated body structure. This is our second hypothesis.

The dragons seem to be highly intelligent and cooperative since they have shown no resistance in letting us take blood samples, almost as though they want to help us with this study. Dr. Verner is comparing the DNA samples now and the results will be ready by next week. With this genetic information, we will be able to identify the origin of dragons and perhaps fill in the gaps of missing links for species all over the world.

Captain's log 46...