*sigh* okay, i've read all the posts here in this thread (yes, all) and now it's my turn! here is an idea no one yet has put forth! the ancient celts, as well as chinese and quie probably other nationalities as well, havw known about deep electromagnetic currents which run through the earth, known now as ley lines. they were (i should say are, since of course the still exist) sources of great energy. the celts marked thes places with standing stones. i borrowed a book once about this couple in the late 70s who went to the britich isles to research them...forgot what it was called! anyway, there is the idea there that the legends of dragons originated from the knowledge of these long powerful lines in the earth. sometimes so much energy would be concentrated in one place, like a lake or rock, mountain, or what have you. then it was said there was a dragon living there. or leviathan, whatever. i agree with pretty much everything else everyone here has said, too. i personally think the legend of dragons is a combination of all of it put together. word travels well, around the world. people from one nation visit another, and well, tales are told, grow, change, develope over time. lots of time. i have had personal experiences of ethereal dragons, in spirit form, like faeries, and remember, faeries and faery creatures may take any form they wish, (or we wish, as i believe they appear to us as our minds may best understand them) i think that when those appeared to me, they were great personifications (dragonifications? lol) of great elemental energies. early man also probably had racial memories of dinosaurs, hence the cave paintings, as well as early man being frightened by snakes. science is getting so much closer to admitting that ogopogo and nessie are in fact the dinosaur known as plesiosaur. the thing with fire breathing, well, there are snakes, for one, who can spit venom up to (do i remember correctly?) 12 feet? someting outrageous like that, anyway, and i'm sure it burns when it touches you! i think it is supposed to have awesome aim, and hit you (or it's prey) in the eyes! that bit from the bible...could it also have been a plesiosaur? or a large concentration of electromagnetic energy, perhaps? religion in europe, especially during mideaval times, has used fear and ignorance amoung the poor to it's 'righteous' advantage...so the idea of the dragon is likely there, as well. i can see how these all grew in to tales shared and distorted amoung many nation's cultures. oh yeah, and the celts as well as the chinese were very fond of stating things poetically, and what is more poetic than explaining earth energies as a great creature? to the chinese, there were mountain dragons, water dragons, air dragons, and fire dragons. each of these elements have great 'spirit' and so must be respected! dragons were considered lucky. of course, if something is so powerful and holds your welfare in it's power, it should be honored and considered lucky! lol well, now, i think i'll stop....what do you all think of that? i hope i didn't leave any thing out!