When you found me, you thought I was a dragon. The devil’s pet. That creature that haunts your nightmares. You had actual proof. My skull was the stuff of nightmares. I had a beak-like snout, followed by little horns that became larger and longer towards the top of my skull, like a terrible crown, worthy of hell’s name.
I am a dinosaur and my skull looks like the one of a dragon. From the first moment you laid eyes upon me or upon any of my relatives, you truly believed that we were dragons. We were supposed to be fire breathing creatures. Some of us could fly, would devour virgins, hoard a treasure, and only a brave knight could slay us. Let me ask you a question: Who was there first, the dinosaur fossil or the dragon?
Or let me put it this way, if I and my relatives were alive today, would you see the dragon in us? Possibly, but I think, probably not. Because after thousands of years of finding dinosaur bones, saying our bones belonged to dragons, giants, monsters of the Tartarus. Proof that there were creatures who lived among the first humans, creatures who were not invited to board Noah’s ark, you began to leave your invented and imagined stories behind and took a closer look.
Your enlightenment came quite late. It has not even been two hundred years since you found out who I truly am. Around the same time, you chose to make being a ‘palaeontologist’ a profession. You began to realise how small you actually are. How ridiculous it is to believe in your origin stories when, in truth, a time without humans existed for so much longer. Gods and titans did not live in the underworld or on Mount Olympus. In heaven, there was never a god, and in hell, there was no devil. The true gods and titans, beasts that were larger than any life form today, died out long before your ancestors saw the first light of day.
We were dinosaurs, gods, and titans, and I was one of them, although, considering the name you gave me, I had to laugh. You baptised me, Draco Rex, and here I am laughing again. I am no king of dragons. In your imagination, my petrified skull might show similarities with a dragon, but I was far from that. Obviously, I did not breathe fire. I did not have wings, but I did have a long tail, I give you that. And I was covered in scales, although you are not sure about that anymore. I might have had feathers.
Above all, I was not a vicious virgin-eating monster that lived in a cave and burnt down castles. I was a caring and protective parent to my offspring. I spent most of my day eating plants. I ran away quickly on my two hind legs when a large predator tried to eat me. I was a beautiful herbivorous dinosaur, and no demonic creature. However, I was a dangerous opponent when it came to mating. The males of my genus would bump their heads against each other. But you are not so sure about that either. You wonder if our crests, our shields, might not have been too fragile and were simply there for display.
Most likely, you will never find out. You will have to imagine things from the past. At least you decided to give me a new name. To be honest, I did not mind Draco Rex. It is a name that invokes fear and wonder. But then again, it is not quite fitting. Finally, you have chosen to synonymise my name with Pachycephalosaurs, one of my relatives.
It’s true though, I’ll give you that. Most of our remains, especially Pachycephalosaurs, look like little dragons. But looks rarely make a name or show who someone is. Because we never were the dragons of your stories. We were dinosaurs, the order of the ornithischian. We were reptiles of a distant past, whose remains still install fear in the minds of humans. But you don’t have to fear us because we will never come back. Everything you conjure up about us happens in your mind. And that’s just your imagination, nothing more.