Zeuglodonts - Extinct Whales As Sea Serpents
The classic image of a dragon with the curves of a long, vertically undulating body emerging from a sea or lake is suspected to be inspired by the extinct whale species known as zeuglodonts.
The fossils found by paleontologists show a creature 60 feet or more long with small fins and flexible necks. The skeletal structure appears able to flex into the up and down vertical curves of aquatic dragons so commonly reported in ancient times. Scientists speculate that zeuglodonts might have come ashore for mating and birthing as some marine mammals like seals and elephant seals still do today. If this was indeed the behavior of zeuglodonts, then imagine the impact the sight of 60 foot long dragons undulating along beaches had upon people. Such animals would certainly have been worthy of igniting dragon stories that would have left a deep stamp upon folklore for hundreds or thousands of years.
Alas fossil evidence does not support the theory of zeuglodonts overlapping with human existence. Based on fossils, zeuglodonts appear to have gone extinct 40 to 25 million years ago. However, the fossil evidence of marine mammals is by no means complete. Finding the fossils of animals that typically dwell in the ocean is a long shot. It cannot be disproved that zeuglodonts lived into the age of humanity.
"Dragons: A Natural History." 1995. Dr. Karl Shuker.
. Page 38.
Marine & Atmospheric
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