Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Theoden. Theoden Wonders, “Are dragons truly real?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Theoden!

You’re on a long journey with a merry band of travelers. You stumble over the ridge and find a place to stop for a break. Your quest will not end until you reach the other side of the mountain. To get there, though, you will have to pass through a dark cavern.

You press on and finally reach the entrance of the cavern. You light torches and enter the darkness. Despite the flames you carry, you can see very little around you. Your footfalls echo off the hard rock. The smell is…well…really bad.

In the distance, you see glimmers of light. You begin to sweat as the temperature rises. Is something burning? As all of these sensations click within your brain, you realize what lies ahead. It’s the most feared beast known to man. What is it? A dragon, of course!

Did that introduction sound a bit like an old myth or a legend? We hope so, because that’s where dragons live! No real fire-breathing dragons live in swamps, dark caverns, mountain lairs, or even dense forests. Instead, we have to enjoy them in their natural habitat: our minds. They exist there thanks to hundreds of years of legends, myths, and stories.

Have you ever seen a dragon in a movie or in art? If so, you know they usually take the form of larger-than-life serpents or reptiles. They’re very popular in the mythologies of many cultures. But two distinct types have arisen over the years: the European dragon and the Chinese dragon.

The European dragon grew from European folk tales. These stories themselves came from Greek and Middle Eastern myths. European dragons tend to be reptilian creatures. They often have lizard-like legs and bat-like wings.

The Chinese dragon came from Eastern folklore from Japan, Korea, and other East Asian countries. These dragons tend to look like large snakes.

Many mythical dragons play the role of villain. As horrible beasts, they oppose the hero of many stories. In addition to breathing fire, many dragons have poisonous claws. They are also often associated with great treasures they guard from treasure hunters.

In many Asian traditions, dragons have cultural importance. They represent the forces of nature. Dragons are often connected with wisdom and longevity. They are also said to have magical powers.

Were fire-breathing dragons ever real? Probably not. But scientists have learned about another species of dragon. Called the Komodo dragon, it can reach 10 feet in length. These giant lizards often weigh more than 300 pounds.

Where can you see a Komodo dragon? They live on the Indonesian islands of Komodo, Gila Motang, Rinca, and Flores. These dragons don’t have wings or breathe fire. But, they can instill fear in prey the way that mythological dragons do.

Komodo dragons are the heaviest lizards on Earth. They defeat prey with their powerful muscles, sharp claws, and shark-like teeth. Their saliva also contains over 50 different types of bacteria. This will usually poison the blood of any prey that happens to escape.

Have you ever seen a Komodo dragon? Do you dream of adventures that include flying, fire-breathing reptiles? It seems that both real and mythical dragons fascinate people around the world!

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.W.4

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