Those Legends Of Dragons And Sea Monsters
By James Donahue
A recent exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History in New York attempted
to explain mythological beasts from legend by suggesting they were, in reality, glimpses of real animals coupled with a lot
For example, the display suggests that the old story by sailors of seeing mermaids at
sea was induced by visions of a manatee on a rock and the fact that sailors of old spent months at sea without the companionship
of women. As uninviting as the manatee might appear to us, consider the creative illusion a man at sea might have had while
viewing such a creature resting on a rock from a distance. If he wanted it to have a nude female form, then it was so.
This is an example of just how our mind can not only distort our view of the world around
us, to meet our beliefs and perhaps our needs at the moment, but also might be a way in which we each can change the reality
of our own personal universe. Thus, for the sailors who wanted to believe, the manatee on a rock at sea became the beautiful
form of a woman with the tail of a fish.
More difficult to explain, however, are the stories of the giant dragons, sea serpents
and other beasts said to have been confronted by the knights and sailors of old as they ventured out in exploration of the
As they enter the museum, visitors first see a 17-foot-long green European replica of
a dragon . . . the type of beast that legend claims Saint George slew. Elsewhere in the exhibit can be seen the colorful Chinese
dragon hanging from the ceiling. And then there is the giant head and tentacles of the old sailor's most feared creature,
the kraken, which appears to be rising from the floor.
While the museum attempts to find a logical explanation for such myths, we know that
there are many things on this planet that cannot be easily explained. The stories of dragons and sea monsters are among them.
The museum's answer to the stories is that people have been digging up dinosaur bones
for years, and the traders that once traveled by camel across the Gobi Desert often cameupon the fossilized remains the the
protoceratop dinosaur, that are found there, possibly mistaking it as the remains of a mythical creature with the head and
forelimbs of an eagle and the body of a lion. They called it a griffin.
While archaeologists disagree, we believe it is possible that humanoids were on this
planet at the same time as the dinosaurs, and since we evolved from those origins, there is a cellular memory of these mighty
beasts. Thus it was natural for the stories to emerge, especially from the mind of early humans who told stories for entertainment
while sitting around the evening fire.
The stories that matter become part of the folk history of an area, and consequently
are passed down from parents to children. My wife and I observed this very story-telling going on even today when we lived
for a while with a Navajo medicine man and his wife near Red Rock, Arizona. They told "winter stories," passed down to their
children during the winter months while confined to their homes because of the cold weather that swept the high desert.
Some of the winter stories have been included in another article in this website. They
attempt to explain why strange plateaus of land are found all over the area, atop giant rock formations that appear to have
been pushed up out of the earth. According to legend, that is exactly what happened. When you look at those formations, the
stories really make sense . . . in a very odd kind of way.
Thus the stories about giant krakens that rise up out of the sea and tear ships apart
with their tentacles, about St. George riding off to slay the dragon that was terrorizing the people of old Englad, and the
dragon god that smiles down on the Chinese people, may have origins that date back before written human history.
There is a memory, but it is planted deep in our cells.