Flying Dragons, Sea Serpents and Dinosaurs

Reptile" refers to Reptilia: the snakes, lizards, crocodiles, turtles, and birds. This broad group includes Sea Serpents, Flying Reptiles and Dinosaurs. "Ser" as in the word serpent is derived from the work for speak, like sermon. "Pent" or "pant" is from to creep or crawl like reptant. Would sea serpent would mean a sea crawling sermon speaker? "Dino" means terrible, fearable while "saur" means lizard. The term "reptile" may carry a lot of psychological baggage with it, conjuring up outmoded images of slow, stupid, inferior violent creature but nothing like what we have been programed with around the word "dinosaur". It's a conspiracy!!

Why would someone want us to FEAR Earth's and our greatest, most powerful ancestors? Sussex, England, Tarasco, Spain and southern Germany have been the origin of many of our earliest dragon tales. These areas have all had famous dragons/griffins on their knight's shields and flags since long before the christian invaders. In fact, when early christians went into these areas they cut out the large petrified skeletons from rock faces and killed everyone in these areas trying to conceal these truths. Since many relatives and travelers had seen them knowing the Dragons of Sussex and the German Griffins to be real, we still have them today. Tarascosaurus found in Tarasco, Spain is the exact image of their old Spanish Dragon. The same is true of the Sussex Dragon, Chang Qu's 2,000 year old Chinese Dragon and, of coarse, many of the Greek and Roman Griffins/Dragons. Many christians, today, still deni the existence of Dragons! What does evolution (change) question that is so scary to some people? Dinosaurs were merely diapsid reptiles with an upright stance based on a specific pelvic design.

In the 1800s it was still impossible to question the religious structure of the time but folks wanted back their Dragons! So a French archaeologist purposed the word "dinosaur" in 1842 and that their had been large reptiles walking the Earth in our past. Three days later Gideon Mantrell, an doctor of incredible credentials from Sussex, England presented a fossilized Iguanadon tooth garden to the London Museum his wife had found in her flower. Three days later the scientific community agreed so then there were legitimate dragons in England again (see Richard Owens). The London Times was quick to fund a project (Waterhouse Hawkins and the Crystal Palace exhibit) to populate a London city park with life sized dinosaurs so as to further secure their stand. Many of our scary stories/scary characters were inspired by this exhibit ~ it was lite by torchlight that created huge dancing shadows. This was the inspiration for Lord Byron's famous party that produced Frankenstein, the Wolf Man and Dracula ~ even the Lost World and much of H. G. Wells! Such fiction, however, gave dinosaurs a bad new start. In their earlier past they had been great protectors. As a Native American totem, large lizards are about large dreams and are very good medicine. T. Rex was the first Mother, raptors were the first musicians and singing groups. They represent a time of great strength and power from our very own past. They couldn't have all been bad - my medicine totem is female Tyrannosaurus Rex. Let's reclaim our Protectors!


TYRANNOSAURUS REX (meaning terrible lizard) was a bright red huge meat-eating chameleon that lived during the late Cretaceous period, about 85 million to 65 million years ago. They lived and died in a humid, semi-tropical environment, in open forests with nearby rivers and in coastal forested swamps. The seasons were mild and warm. They laid their eggs in pairs and raised there young - being the First Mothers. Until recently, T. Rex was the biggest known carnivorous dinosaur; Giganotosaurus and Carcharodontosaurus have proven bigger - with the females being larger than the males. Tyrannosaurus Rex could turn from bright red to yellow and was a fierce predator that walked on two powerful legs with a huge head sporting some incredibly well-developed jaw muscles. Her 4 foot long jaw had a 45,000 lbs. force with 50 to 60 bone-crunching teeth that ranged in size from very small to over 9 inches long. Adults had a variety of tooth sizes in their jaws at one time, as teeth were broken and new (smaller) ones grew in to replace them. One T. rex was found with some teeth up to 13 inch long. They could eat up to 500 pounds of meat and bones in one bite! Her enormous skull was about 5 feet long. The eye sockets in the skull are 4 inches across with eyeballs about 3 inches in diameter. She had tiny arms, each with two fingers. Each huge bird-like foot had three large toes, all equipped with claws (plus a little dewclaw on a tiny, vestigial fourth toe). A slim, stiff, pointed tail provided balance and allowed for quick turns while running. T. Rex's neck was short and muscular with a very solid body build but her bones were hollow. Tyrannosaurus Rex grew up to 40 feet long, about 50 feet tall. The arms were only about 3 feet long. Tyrannosaurus Rex was roughly 5 to 7 tons in weight and left footprints 1.55 feet long (it's feet were much longer, about 3.3 feet long ~ T. Rex, like other dinosaurs, walked on its toes). She had a stride length of up to 15 feet and could run at up to 15 mph. T. Rex had large visual lobes in her brain that processed visual information. She also had depth perception (since both eyes faced forwards on the front of its skull, and not placed on the sides). Their brain had a very large area for processing odor. One of her more unique features is that the rear part of her tail was stiffened by interlocking vertebral zygopophyses (interlocking bony structures projecting forwards and backwards from the neural arches, interlocking one vertebra into another). T. Rex was also warm blooded with many living in groups! Females were larger than the males and lived 40 years.

CHARCHARODONTOSAURUS-saharicus was a huge meat-eating dinosaur. This North African carnosaur had a massive tail, a bulky body, and heavy bones. The arms were short and had three-fingered hands with sharp claws. Carcharodontosaurus grew up to 45 feet long, perhaps weighing up to 8 tons. She had a skull that was as big as a person ~ 6 feet long ~ with large, powerful jaws holding many long, serrated, sharp teeth up to 8 inches long that were shed like sharks do today. Although Carcharodontosaurus was larger than T-Rex, their brain was smaller; it was a more primitive. Carcharodontosaurus was closely related to Giganotosaurus but not to T-Rex. Most of my teeth for sale here, are from the "Taouz" region of the Sahara Desert in Morocco and are probably one of the early Dragons of Spain (in art & legend). Charcharodontosaurus lived in the Cretaceous period, about 110 to 90 million years ago. The females were larger than the males as in birds of prey today!

SPINOSAURUS was another huge meat-eating dinosaur in North Africa. Called Spinosaurus or "spiny lizard" because they had a series of large neural spines up to 6 feet long coming out of their back vertebrae, probably forming a sail-like fin that may have helped in thermoregulation, display and/or intraspecies rivalry. Spinosaurus had a relatively flexible upper spine (these vertebrae had modified ball-and-socket-joints) so they could arch their back somewhat, perhaps being able to spread the sail (like opening the ribs of a fan). Spinosaurus was bipedal (it walked on two legs). She was about 40-50 feet long and weighed 4 tons to 8 tons. She had a large head with sharp, straight, non-serrated teeth in typical powerful dragon jaws. Her arms were smaller than her legs but were larger than the arms of most other theropods. They probably went on all four legs at times. They were striped lengthwise and could change from yellow to green in color. Spinosaurus lived during the middle Cretaceous period, about 95 to 65 million years ago in the tropics near sea level of near today's Sahara Desert. They were cold blooded but one of the more colorful found to date. Most ate dinosaurs and large fish. The teeth were long and sharp but had little or no serrations. These were one of the largest, most fierce predators found to date that hunted and killed other large sauropods. Spinosaurus also hunted each other and were scavengers. Females were larger than males and could have lived in groups!

RAPTORS were one of the coolest critters to ever share our air! Many Raptors (including the 2 Dromaeosaurs in the kitchen scene of the Jurassic Park movie) were fierce acid spitting pack predators. They are the ancestor to all birds and were 1st to sing in harmony (with songs like birds). These dinosaurs were the size of a small dog to 30 feet in length sporting grasping hands with huge claws on their front and back feet. They were capable of bringing down very large prey and are considered the fiercest Being to have ever danced on Earth! Raptors are the origin of the Fire Breathing Dragons (the acid spitting) and most probably met living Chinese humans in Mongolia in near recent times. China has a 8,000 year written history and 6,000 year old dinosaur bones! Southern Mongolia is the headwaters for the Yellow River (Yangtze River) which is always drawn/displayed as The Chinese Dragon! This is one of the most dinosaur rich areas in the world with many lieing exposed on the surface. The Utah Raptor (from Utah) is considered the Baddest of All. Females were larger than males and lived longer. Many migrated together and lived in groups!

PTEROSAURS (meaning winged lizards) were flying reptiles (but not dinosaurs) that lived in the Cretaceous period migrating in and around North America. They had a large crested head, a huge wingspan (44 feet), and a comparatively small body. Hollow bones (about 1 millimeter thick!) helped them to fly as this made them quite light. The whole animal probably weighed about 25 pounds! The hind limbs are actually perfectly sized for their body and could have been capable of bipedal terrestrial movement. They were almost certainly a soaring animal. They used rising warm air to maintain altitude ~ a common strategy among large winged critters today. Her scoop-like beak was used for snapping up fish as she soared over the oceans (where she nested nearby). A good modern analog would be the pelican crossed with a bat. They had large brains and very good eyesight. Many even had fur covering their bodies. Pterosaur wings were covered with a leathery membrane that was thin but tough forming the structure of the wings. Some flew great distances. Claws grew from their fingers as well as a large hook/claw protruding from mid-wing. Pterosaurs were carnivores that ate fish, mollusks, crabs, perhaps plankton (for some species), insects and scavenged dead animals on land. By definition, all dinosaurs were diapsid reptiles with an upright stance based on a specific pelvic design. Pterosaurs had a semi-upright stance (not dinosaurs) but are considered the Flying Dragons of early writings.

MOSASAURS (meaning fish lizard) were an Ichthyosaur and were the true Sea Serpents. The earliest Ichthyosaurs had long, flexible bodies and probably swam by undulating, like living eels. More advanced Ichthyosaurs were the fastest fish in the oceans ever (55 mph). They were up to 60 feet long, had 6 foot skulls and no rivals. Rare fossils have been found that show Ichthyosaurs actually giving birth to live, well-developed young; Ichthyosaurs never left the water to lay eggs yet they still breathed air and lacked gills. She is the Mother and Ancestor of All Snakes on Earth as well as to today's Komoto Dragon lizard. Some had 4 fins, others had 2 small front fins. They would hydrofoil (up out of the water) at high speed on these small front fins then flair out a huge sail from around their neck to slow ~ like the cobra and the Komoto dragon today. They were not dinosaurs merely Sea Serpents!

PLESIOSAURS (meaning near lizard) were flippered marine reptiles from the Mesozoic Era - they were not dinosaurs. Plesiosaurs are divided into two groups: the Plesiosauroids with long, snake like necks, tiny heads, and wide bodies, and the Pliosauroids, which had large heads with very strong jaws and short necks. Both are Sea Serpents! They ranged in size from 8 to 46 feet long. They had four flippers, sharp teeth in strong jaws, and short, pointed tails. Plesiosaurs lived in the open oceans and breathed air. Some have been found with small stones in their stomachs; these may have been used to help grind up their food or as ballast to help them dive. Like their ancestor, the sea turtle, they probably laid eggs in beach sand and swam using their four paddle like flippers similar to modern turtles.

Links and Suggestions:

Weishampel, D.B., P. Dodson, and H. Osmolska (eds.). 1990. The Dinosauria. University of California Press: Berkeley. 733p.

Norell, M.A., E.S. Gaffney, and L. Dingus. 1995. Discovering Dinosaurs at the American Museum of Natural History. Nevraumont Publishing Company, Inc.: New York. 204p.

Norman, D. 1985. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs. Crescent Books: New York. 208p. Padian, K. and D. Chure (eds.). 1989.

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