Is this the Reason We Believed in Dragons?

Posted by on April 16th, 2012


His name is Dracorex and he looks like a dragon.

Seriously, compare the skull you see above to the massive dragon skulls found in the subterranean pathways of King’s Landing in HBO’s Game of Thrones.


While it is inconclusive that Dracorex ever consorted with the House Targaryen or reduced cities and armies alike to smoldering ash, what is clear is how much the shape this herbivore bares a resemblance to our common understanding of a fictional dragon. The skull was first donated for study in 2004 and was formally described first in 2006.

Meanwhile, the beast has a more permanent connection to yet another popular fantasy franchise. The official name for Dracorex is Dracorex hogwartsia. This was inspired by young visitors to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, where it was official donated, who kept referring to it as the dragon from the book and subsequent 2005 film adaptation Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

This thrilled author J.K. Rowling…

“I am absolutely thrilled to think that Hogwarts has made a small (claw?) mark upon the fascinating world of dinosaurs. I happen to know more on the subject of paleontology than many might credit, because my eldest daughter was Utahraptor-obsessed and I am now living with a passionate Tyrannosaurus rex-lover, aged three. My credibility has soared within my science-loving family, and I am very much looking forward to reading Dr. Bakker’s paper describing ‘my’ dinosaur, which I can’t help visualising as a slightly less pyromaniac Hungarian Horntail.”


But the question remains, is Dracorex really even its own species?

All around dinosaur badass authority and HPIC (Head Paleontologist In Charge) of our hearts Jack Horner says the beast is probably just a juvenile version of the well documented dino Pachycephalosaurus which looks decidedly less dragon-esqe.

In fact, he has an awesome TEDx talk going into the phenomenon of misclassification and our misunderstanding of “shape shifting” dinosaurs.

So what came first? Our modern dragon myth that looks like Dracorex? Or did Dracorex shape the myth? Is Dracorex even really Dracorex?

No matter what, we now know something that Daenerys Targaryen, Jack Horner and Harry Potter have in common. Which is pretty awesome.

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