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Dragons have been common to many cultures and mythologies. Some famous are St. George slaying a dragon and Chinese dragons, such as the symbol used for the Emperor of China.

Creationists and Bible literalists do assert that dragons existed and that they are basically special dinosaurs.

Dragons are reptillian or snake-like creatures that share many characteristics with dinosaurs and may well be the same creatures.

http://conservapedia.com/Dragons

Consider the many dragon legends. Most ancient cultures have stories or artwork of dragons that strongly resemble dinosaurs.

[...]

The simplest and most obvious explanation for so many common descriptions of dragons from around the world is that man once knew the dinosaurs.

http://www.creationscience.com/onlinebook/FAQ27.html

Has physical evidence ever been found that a dragon existed?

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    Do you have any reputable claims that they really existed? Mythologies are not really reputable claims that something existed (forgive me, oh mighty Cthulu!). – Beofett Jan 30 '12 at 14:12
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    Komodo dragons. – Hendrik Vogt Jan 30 '12 at 14:53
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    As for notability, there is this "what if documentary". imdb.com/title/tt0433367. Before you say "yes, but it's not claiming that it's real", I met at least one person watching it from the middle and thinking it was real stuff. He then went on explaining to me that it was "proven" that dragons exist. – Sklivvz Jan 30 '12 at 16:26
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    Per the FAQ - If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much. - I think I know the question you are answering and it would take a book to answer something this broad. If you present a specific claim that they exist in some specific form then I think it would be back on topic. – Chad Jan 30 '12 at 16:44
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    Perhaps this question would be better received if it were worded like this: "is there any known basis for the widely spread myths of creatures like Dragons?" This might even be a more interesting question. – matt_black Jan 30 '12 at 22:45
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Well, according to this lady, it was dinosaur bones: The First Fossil Hunters: Dinosaurs, Mammoths, and Myth in Greek and Roman Times

That is to say; ancient civilisations are believed to have come into contact with dinosaur fossils, and their discovery can be deduced from historical records. As such, myths of fantastical creatures may have been inspired by these fossil finds.

I don't know if that constitutes an answer, but it looks like an interesting read.

For a more modern equivalent, you could consider the Crystal Palace dinosaurs, which were commissioned in the 1850s and differ significantly from modern interpretations of the same animals they represent. A tourist has their Flickr stream showing them here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ilike/2743161862/in/photostream/

Here is the story of these sculptures: http://www.victorianweb.org/sculpture/misc/hawkins1.html

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    I'd summarise her claim to make a good answer or convert your reference to a comment. – matt_black Jan 30 '12 at 22:43
  • commonly held understanding is indeed that many monsters in Greek mythology came into existence as attempts to explain fossilised bones discovered by people (they didn't know about evolution, obviously). – jwenting Jan 31 '12 at 6:51

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