Are Dragons Real? – Lesson for Kids

Are Dragons Real? - Lesson for Kids

While European dragons were usually depicted as monsters or enemies, on the other side of the world, ancient Asian cultures came up with their own ideas about dragons. Instead of big lizards, they appeared much thinner and longer and could be very small, very big, or anywhere in between. Eastern Asian dragons were usually symbols, meaning they represented something, such as wisdom, power, or nature, that was capable of helping people in numerous ways. For example, one Chinese dragon lived at the bottom of a deep spring and controlled the rain, and a type of Chinese tea today is named Dragon Well Tea.

Asian Dragons

In Vietnam, people believed that a dragon guarded the countryside and created a series of islands off the coast of Ha Long, which means ”descending dragon.” The capital city of Seoul, Korea lies between one mountain that looks like a tiger and one that looks like a dragon; the dragon mountain is considered lucky. In Borneo, an island in southeast Asia, legend holds that a dragon guards a huge jewel on top of Mount Kinabalu.

While there are no creatures on Earth that can fly and breathe fire, there are huge lizards that are known as dragons. Perhaps the most famous is the Komodo dragon, which can be ten feet long and weigh over 300 pounds. These huge lizards live on the islands of Indonesia and are the biggest carnivores, or meat eaters, around. They eat pretty much everything they find, including cows, pigs, and deer. They’ve even killed humans!

There are about 5,000 Komodo dragons left in the wild. Millions of years ago, when the planet was warmer and better for reptiles, more of these giant dragons lived throughout South Asia and Australia, and they grew even larger than the ones today. However, a changing planet, along with people moving in, has made the Komodo dragon among the last real dragons left in the world.

Research Characteristics of Dragons.

The lesson discussed mythical dragons and the characteristics that those dragons had in common, which are breathing fire and flying. Let’s think about and explore how these characteristics may be found in a dragon by looking at examples in present-day animals and insects.
Fire-breathing ability

If you think about dragons which have been portrayed in movies and cartoons, this is one of the common features they share. Is it possible for an animal to produce fire? Let’s consider a different characteristic that some creatures have – the ability to produce light. Research this phenomenon called bioluminescence, and discuss how this property occurs. Also, research what elements are needed for fire to occur. Then think about whether a process can occur in a creature to produce fire.


A number of different organisms produce light, with one of the most familiar examples being the firefly. Bioluminescence generally produces light as a reaction, where the oxidation of a chemical called luciferin occurs with the assistance of an enzyme called luciferase and high energy molecule called ATP.

Three elements are required for fire to occur, which is known as the fire pyramid. There must be a fuel source, oxygen must be present, and a source of ignition must exist.

If a dragon were to produce fire, we would have to think about what could be used as a fuel source. Certain bacteria can break down partially digested food and produce methane. This occurs in higher levels in some animals, like cows. Perhaps a dragon could have a gland containing a large number of bacteria that produce methane for a fuel source. A chemical reaction, possibly similar to bioluminescence, may then be used as a source of ignition for the fuel.

Ability to fly

Dragons are often also portrayed with wings. Birds are an excellent example of achieving the ability to fly. Research how birds use wings to fly and think about whether this would work for a larger creature, such as a dragon.


Birds are able to fly by pushing air down and behind with their wings. Do you think that a larger creature, like a dragon, would be able to use wings to fly like birds?