Dragons are legendary creatures that feature in the myths of worldwide cultures, typically with serpentine or otherwise reptilian traits. They are usually shown in modern times with a body like a huge lizard, or a snake with two pairs of lizard-type legs, and able to emit fire from their mouths. The European dragon has bat-type wings growing from its back. A dragon-like creature with no front legs is known as a wyvern.
Dragons are often held to have major spiritual significance in various religions and cultures around the world. In many Asian cultures dragons were, and in some cultures still are, revered as representative of the primal forces of nature, religion and the universe. They are associated with wisdom, often said to be wiser than humans, and longevity. They are commonly said to possess some form of magic or other supernatural power, and are often associated with wells, rain, and rivers. In some cultures, they are also said to be capable of human speech.
Although dragons occur in many legends around the world, different cultures have varying stories about monsters that have been grouped together under the dragon label. Some dragons are said to breathe fire or to be poisonous. They are commonly portrayed as serpentine or reptilian, hatching from eggs and possessing typically scaly or feathered bodies. They are sometimes portrayed as having especially large eyes or watching treasure very diligently, a feature that is the origin of the word dragon, from the Greek drakein meaning “to see clearly”).
Some myths portray them with a row of dorsal spines. European dragons are more often winged, while Oriental versions of the dragon resemble large snakes. Dragons can have a variable number of legs: none, two, four, or more when it comes to early European literature. Also, some dragons in Greek literature were known to have millions of legs at a time. Modern depictions of dragons tend to be larger than their original representations, which were often smaller than humans, but grew in the myths and tales of man over the years. Following discovery of how pterosaurs walked on the ground, some modern dragons have been portrayed without front legs and using the wings as front legs pterosaur-fashion when on the ground.