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Dragons!

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Mostly Harmless
42635.  Mon Jan 02, 2006 4:38 pm Reply with quote

..


Last edited by Mostly Harmless on Sun Jan 08, 2006 3:47 pm; edited 1 time in total

 
grizzly
42646.  Mon Jan 02, 2006 4:54 pm Reply with quote

and i doubt that the ambient temperature in Komodo would be that cold even in the morning

 
Mostly Harmless
42651.  Mon Jan 02, 2006 5:09 pm Reply with quote

..


Last edited by Mostly Harmless on Sun Jan 08, 2006 3:47 pm; edited 1 time in total

 
grizzly
42655.  Mon Jan 02, 2006 5:13 pm Reply with quote

lol

 
gerontius grumpus
42661.  Mon Jan 02, 2006 5:27 pm Reply with quote

mckeonj wrote:
I think the last recorded sighting of a dragon in England was the Lambton Wurrum. Perhaps the Lady Lucinda could enlighten us further on that topic.



Nope, the Lambton worm is a song and the laidly worm of Spindlestone Heugh is a fairy tale.
Right geographical region though.

 
Celebaelin
42698.  Mon Jan 02, 2006 6:47 pm Reply with quote

The earliest UK dragon reports are involved with early Celtic Christians displacing paganism as symbolised by the dragon. Saint Sampson of Cornwall, St Serf, St Petroc and St Carantoc all have associated dragon legends. Vita Saint Sampson was written c610-615AD, St. Serf and St. Carantoc are assigned to the 7th century. St. Petroc (Pedrog) is the earliest of the four, his dates being c.469-564. St. Carantocs dragon tale is Arthurian.

Quote:
Dragons as Evil Omens

Strange lights in the sky were also attributed to or recognised as dragons, and were seen as ill omens portending dire future events. In the dark winter months of 793, the monks at Lindisfarne saw terrible dragons of many colours flying over the island.


http://www.mysteriousbritain.co.uk/legends/the_dragon.html

Getting away from the religious associations, reports of dragons made by the general populace are dated rather later

Quote:
1170 AD
At St Osythes a dragon of "marvelous bigness" was seen, whose sheer movements caused houses to burn to the ground (Whitlock, 1983).

1532 AD
During this year a dragon mating season or gathering took place, as pairs of dragons were seen flying together or in great groups which could number up to four hundred individuals (Whitlock, 1983).


http://sommerland.org/ondragons/timeline.html

Quote:
1170
In the seventeenth year of Henry II, there was seen at St. Osythes (Essex) a dragon of marvellous bigness, which, by moving, burned houses.

1395
In Aprill, there was seene a fierce dragon in many places of England; which dreadful sight as it made manie a one amazed, so it ministred occasion of mistrust to the minds of the marvelous, that some great mischeefe was imminent, wherof that burning apparition was a prognostications. (sic)

1532
In the year 1532, in manye countries were dragons crowned seene flying by flocks or companies in the ayre, having swines snowtes; and sometimes were there seen foure hundred flying together in a companie.


Dragons Hogarth/Clary Allen Lane (1979)

 
mckeonj
42703.  Mon Jan 02, 2006 7:03 pm Reply with quote

Concerning dragons, you might like to know about the Jenny Haniver - I've seen one, and it was very convincing dragon. It also bears a striking resemblance to certain goblins, gargoyles, and little grey men.
www.geocities.com/Area51/Station/8390/marine_hoax.html

 
gerontius grumpus
42704.  Mon Jan 02, 2006 7:24 pm Reply with quote

Well, Celebaelin you seem to have beaten me on this one, I was going to quote the Anglo Saxon Chronicle;

"793 In this year terrible portents appeared over Northumbria, and miserably frightened the inhabitants: these were exceptional flashes of lightning, and fiery dragons were seen flying in the air." (Laud chronicle.)

But you got there first and followed it with much more recent references.
I take my hat off to you.

 
Celebaelin
42707.  Mon Jan 02, 2006 7:38 pm Reply with quote

gerontius grumpus wrote:
I take my hat off to you.


An unwise move when there are dragons overhead!

To you, most kind and attentive correspondent, I offer these words of wisdom gleaned from the ATPo board in its more active days

"The difference between Sci-Fi and Fantasy is that in Fantasy dragons can fly."

Iíve waaay too much time on my hands, rather than spending it doing anything so demanding as actual thinking (heaven forfend) I occasionally flip through books on fictitious, oversized, fire-breathing lizards - I convince myself that it's research in my less scrupulously honest moments.

 
gerontius grumpus
42708.  Mon Jan 02, 2006 7:44 pm Reply with quote

Celebaelin wrote:
gerontius grumpus wrote:
I take my hat off to you.


An unwise move when there are dragons overhead!


No, it was my dragon attracting hat.

 
Mostly Harmless
42751.  Tue Jan 03, 2006 6:09 am Reply with quote

..


Last edited by Mostly Harmless on Sun Jan 08, 2006 3:48 pm; edited 1 time in total

 
QI Individual
42782.  Tue Jan 03, 2006 7:47 am Reply with quote

About the dragon part...

Is there a commonly held opinion about the causes behind these dragon sightings? Phenomena like Aurora Borealis, Ball Lightning and St. Elmo's Fire seem likely candidates to me.


About the poison....

As mentioned poison might have had a function in capturing prey in earlier evolutionary times but may have lost its importance as food sources changed. Such change could even be relative because the species itself could have evolved to a larger size therefore not needing to poison its prey any more.

Also... Can the poison (not also (still)) have a function in digestion? As a digestive enzyme?

 
Mr Grue
42823.  Tue Jan 03, 2006 10:25 am Reply with quote

I understand that on old maps, when the cartographers wanted to include uncharted areas or areas of danger they would label them "Here be tygers" rather than dragons...

 
grizzly
42836.  Tue Jan 03, 2006 11:00 am Reply with quote

QI Individual wrote:
About the dragon part...

Is there a commonly held opinion about the causes behind these dragon sightings? Phenomena like Aurora Borealis, Ball Lightning and St. Elmo's Fire seem likely candidates to me.


About the poison....

As mentioned poison might have had a function in capturing prey in earlier evolutionary times but may have lost its importance as food sources changed. Such change could even be relative because the species itself could have evolved to a larger size therefore not needing to poison its prey any more.

Also... Can the poison (not also (still)) have a function in digestion? As a digestive enzyme?


Taken from Wikipedia about snakebites. Seeing as 9 of the toxins are commonly found in snakes I thought snakes might be a good place to start:

Quote:
Some Australian elapids and most viper envenomations will cause bleeding, sometimes so severe that a person may bleed spontaneously from the mouth, nose, and even old, seemingly-healed wounds. Internal organs may bleed, including the brain and intestines and will cause ecchymosis (purple discoloration) of the victim's skin. If the bleeding is left unchecked the victim may die of blood loss.

Venom emitted from cobras, most sea snakes, mambas, and other elapids contain toxins which attack the nervous system. The victim may present with strange disturbances to their vision, including blurriness. This is commonly due to the venom paralyzing the ciliary muscle, which is responsible for focusing the lens of the eye, but can be the result of eyelid paralysis as well. Victims will also report paresthesia throughout their body, as well as difficulty speaking and breathing. Nervous system problems will cause a huge array of symptoms, and those provided here are not exhaustive. In any case, if the victim is not treated immediately they may die from respiratory failure.

Venom emitted from some Australian elapids, the Russellís viper, and all sea snakes causes necrosis of muscle tissue. Muscle tissue may begin to die throughout the body, a condition known as rhabdomyolysis. Dead muscle cells may even clog the kidney which filters out proteins. This, coupled with hypotension, can lead to kidney failure, and, if left untreated, eventually death


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snakebite_%28bite%29

I'm not precisely sure on how the toxins work but except for those that cause necrosis I would doubt that any would function in a similar way to digestive enzymes. These toxins are unlikely to function in the same way as enzymes simply because 1. They cannot guarentee that the enzyme will be present in an environment that wont denature it and 2. Digestive enzymes often work too slowly to function adequately. They are also unlikely to be of use within the snakes own body because it would need to specialise all of the cells in its body to prevent the toxins killing it.

In my opinion there are probably 3 ways that a lizard is likely to maintain its venom over millions of years of evolution without using it to kill prey:

1. It uses the venom in some other aspect of its behaviour. For example, a toxin that temporarily inhibits the nervous system could be used by the male in small quantities to calm a female during mating.

2. The genes that code for venom production could also code for another protein that gives the lizard a comparitive advantage or the protein that produces the toxins is also used in the production of other necessary molecules. Alternatively the organs/glands used to produce the toxins are also used in the production of other necessary molecules.

3. Through shear chance genetic mutations have not occured to the gene that would also provide an advantage in natural selection.

There are other factors involved. For example, research on the human genome that has searched for changes in our genes that affect the brain (believing that this would be what caused the rapid increase in the size of human brains in our evolution) has shown that the parts of our genome that have actually been changing are those that code for the proteins that "turn on and off" production of certain proteins. Thus being the most likely source of our recent evolution. This could be the same cause for lizards not losing their venom even if it isn't used.

 
QI Individual
42855.  Tue Jan 03, 2006 11:51 am Reply with quote

grizzly wrote:
I'm not precisely sure on how the toxins work but except for those that cause necrosis I would doubt that any would function in a similar way to digestive enzymes. These toxins are unlikely to function in the same way as enzymes simply because

1. They cannot guarentee that the enzyme will be present in an environment that wont denature it and

2. Digestive enzymes often work too slowly to function adequately. They are also unlikely to be of use within the snakes own body because it would need to specialise all of the cells in its body to prevent the toxins killing it.

I'm not sure I understand how you mean the first point. Why would venom injected purely for its toxic function to kill the prey be any different?

The same goes for the second point. Digestive enzymes cannot work too slowly to function adequately or we wouldn't be using them to help digest our food. I see the possible digestive function as a sort of pre-digestion. The extensive tissue damage it is capable of causing would fit that function.

Also a venomous animal that eats its prey always ingests it own venom. Its digestion will largely break down the venom but I imagine these animals will usually have a specific mechanism to protect themselves against their own venom.

 

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