April 23rd St Georges Day – Remember the Dragon

Today is April 23rd, St Georges Day, the patron saint of England and an important figure in many other countries and cultures.  April 23rd is traditionally regarded as the day that St George died in the fourth Century A.D.  He is remembered for a number of acts and deeds, perhaps most famously for slaying a dragon.  Some authorities on English folklore state that the White Horse at Uffington is a representation of the dragon that St George fought, or perhaps the figure carved out of the chalk hill is a stylised image of St. George’s horse.  Nearby Dragon Hill, a low mound with a very flattened top, has been suggested as the location of the fight between St. George and his foe.  Part of Dragon Hill, is very bare and has little grass, the very thin soil does not allow a lot of grass growth, however, some observers believe that this is the spot where the dragon was killed and its blood left a bare patch on the ground where even today no plants will grow.

Whatever the legend, the concept of a fearsome dragon has helped inspire the naming of a number of prehistoric animals including dinosaurs.  For example, the Early Cretaceous Tyrannosaur from China known as Dilong (Dilong paradoxus) means “Emperor Dragon”.  The crow-sized Troodontid known as Mei long, whose fossils were formerly named and described in 2004 means “sleeping dragon”.

Perhaps one of the more unusual dinosaur names is that of the “Dragon King of Hogwarts” – Dracorex hogwartsia.  The species name Dracorex hogwartsia honours the author J. K. Rowling, the writer of the Harry Potter series.  The scientists thought that the skull of this dinosaur resembled the skull of a dragon and with its strange lumps and bumps it looked quite magical.  This coupled with the reaction of young visitors to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, where the skull was first put on display, convinced the scientists to name this dinosaur after dragons and the fictional school – Hogwarts the school in the Harry Potter series of novels.

“Dragon King of Hogwarts School”

Fearsome looking Dragon from Hogwarts.

Fearsome looking Dragon from Hogwarts.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

With dragons being very prominent in folklore from both the oriental and occidental worlds it is very likely that more dinosaurs will named after “Dragons”.

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