An Instinct for Dragons

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From J.R.R. Tolkien's treasure-hoarding Smaug to the bright red beasts of the Chinese New Year's celebration, this magnificent, fire-breathing creature is ingrained in our culture. But where did the dragon originate? And how is it that people from Africa to China to America picture it the same? An Instinct for Dragons is anthropologist David E Jones's account of his search for the mysterious birth of this ubiquitous monster. In a vast synthesis of art, mythology, history, and anthropology, Jones finds that the dragon is in fact a universal image. Not only does every culture in the world have a name for it -- smok in Polish, tatsu in Japanese, unktena in Cherokee -- but dragons everywhere share many of the same characteristics: multiple heads, talon-like claws, blazing breath. Jones spans dragon lore from the Loch Ness monster to the Internet, as well as dragon inscriptions on cave walls, cliffs, and pots. His conclusion is stunning: not only is our fear and fascination with dragons a direct resultof the predators who threatened our evolution - eagles, leopards, and pythons - but humankind is essentially hardwired to believe in this creature. Captivating and eloquent, An Instinct for Dragons decodes the ancient puzzle of the oldest and fiercest monster.

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User Review  - waltzmn - LibraryThing

Generally, the idea of a race is to get to the finish line, not to see how far you can go beyond it. The book opens with the observation that vervet monkeys, and some other primates, seem to have ... Read full review

An instinct for dragons

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Jones (anthropology, Univ. of Central Florida) contends that the dragon, a universal image of a creature that does not exist, is a direct result of the evolutionary process. Guided by the tenets of ... Read full review

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About the author (2000)

David E. Jones is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Central Florida. He is the author of such engaging and well-received books as: Sanapia: Comanche Medicine Woman, Visions of Time, and Women Warriors. He lives in Orlando, Florida

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