Could fire breathing dragons exist?

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The TV show game of thrones caused an incredible reaction around the world. It was one of, if not the most successful show of all time. However, it was based in a purely fictional time. If the giants didn’t give that away then surely the flying fire-breathing dragons did. While the fictional setting was obvious to most people, some were caught out on Twitter asking “What year is Game of Thrones set in?” and other comments that showed some people thought Game of Thrones was history, not fiction. While they were mocked by many, many, many people, was it such an embarrassing mistake to make? Many of the costumes were taken out of a certain period in history when raiders and knights existed. There was a time when people were much taller so “giants” are at least conceivable. There was some magic used during the show but allow me to ignore that for now. This leaves dragons. Are fire breathing dragons so ridiculous or could they have once existed? Let’s investigate.

To start let me be clear, I don’t want to analyze if fire-breathing dragons ever did exist, just whether it was possible that they could have existed. As I see it there are two key reasons why flying fire breathing dragons could not have existed. There is no evidence of flying dragons and there is no evidence of animals that breathe fire. These are pretty big obstacles to overcome but let’s try.

To say there is no evidence of flying dragons is not exactly true. In the time of dinosaurs, there were many that had wings and flew. The evidence of this is well documented. These dinosaurs were very large too weighing as much as a tiger and with a wingspan of 11 meters. Therefore it does appear possible that flying dragons could exist. Today many argue that flying dragons still exist. They are just much smaller. There are a number of species of lizards and snakes that can basically fly. Some have wings that allow them to glide while snakes can basically propel themselves through the air. You could argue that both of these don’t really fly they more fall with style but the snakes, in particular, have been shown to “fly” the length of a football field.

This shows that it is conceivable that dragons could fly. Would they be armor-plated beasts that appear heavier than elephants? Unlikely. Although until 2001 scientists didn’t understand how bumblebees flew so it is possible.

The next question is could they breathe fire. There is no animal in the world that does this but there is one beetle that comes close. The bombardier beetle releases a boiling hot fluid onto anyone that comes close to it as a defense mechanism. The idea that an animal could produce a flammable gas is not outside the realms of possibility at all. All it would require then would be someway of igniting it. If the gas ignited when it came in contact with the air it would appear like breathing fire. If not, the animal could have to ignite by creating a spark in its mouth. This wouldn’t be impossible either by rubbing teeth or tendons in a certain way.

Do I think the people on Twitter were foolish for thinking Game of Thrones was a history show? Absolutely! Do I think people were right to mock them? Absolutely! Is it conceivable that Game of Thrones was a history show? Absolutely not! However, is it possible that at one point in the long history of the world there was a fire breathing dragon – yes, yes it is. Even though it is unlikely I still prefer to believe in a world of fire-breathing dragons, although maybe not white walkers.

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