Dragon tales

The animal man’s fantasy located in caves, as a guardian of huge treasures or kidnapped princesses, is the dragon. But are they only legends? Very often are exaggerations of reality and legends on dragons aren’t an exception. Dragons are generally provided of wings, just like bats (and devils too in the end): maybe these small cave inhabitants scared them so much, that in some way, they seemed to be bigger than what they actually are.
Many palaeontology findings (such as the dinosaur ones) have contributed surely on making up legends on dragons and on the fact that often many big bones have been found in caves (such as for example, the cavern bears, the big Ursus spelaeus) and this made people think that these places were homes of these fantastic animals. For instance, in the southern part of Italy, the findings of elephant fossils, which skull has a big hole for the nasal cavity where the proboscis starts, gave life to Cyclops legends, gigantic beings that have one big eye in the middle of their forehead. But legends on dragons had an extraordinary confirmation in 1689. A naturalist called Valvassor, one of the first cave scientists, found in a fount near by a cave of the Carso a small curious animal: long and pinkish, that has 4 paws, a long tail and two strange red whorls on the sides of the muzzle without eyes, this animal seemed like a small dragon in miniature…surely a cub of some kind of gigantic and monstrous being, taken out of the waters! In 1768 the mystery was revealed: it wasn’t a dragon’s cub, but an adult specimen of Proteus anguinus, one of the most strange cave inhabitants.

Special reports

From the Multimedia section

Facts

  • 13 May 2011

    Amphibians in a cave

    Proteus is an amphibian of white-yellowish or light pink colour...

    Can you breathe in a cave?

    One of the most common beliefs is that in caves the air is often stuffy...

  • Ice in caves

    In high mountain or high latitude environments, many caves can contain ice deposits...

    A walk underground

    The longest caves in the world are in Kentucky, the caves of Mammoth...

  • 24 February 2011

    And in underground tunnels?

    There are groups of terrestrial animals that eat insects, worms and other invertebrates...

    13 May 2011

    The climate underground

    Going down deep in the Earth’s crust, the temperatures increase gradually...

  • Amphibians in a cave

    Proteus is an amphibian of white-yellowish or light pink colour...

  • Can you breathe in a cave?

    One of the most common beliefs is that in caves the air is often stuffy...

  • Ice in caves

    In high mountain or high latitude environments, many caves can contain ice deposits...