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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.
Heinrich von Winkelried dies after the blood of the dragon slain by him accidentally drips on him.
There is a widespread belief that earlier cartographers used the Latin phrase hic sunt dracones, i.e., "the dragons are here", or "here be dragons", to denote dangerous or unexplored territories, in imitation of the infrequent medieval practice of putting sea serpents and other mythological creatures in the blank areas of maps.
This topos can be traced to the Chaoskampf of the mythology of the Ancient Near East (e.g. The slaying of Vrtra by Indra in the Rigveda also belongs in this category.
A dragon-like creature with wings but only a single pair of legs is known as a wyvern.
There is a modern tendency to depict dragons with back legs only and using their wings (walking on the carpal joints) as front legs, as it is thought that pterosaurs did.
An example is Smaug as depicted in the film version of The Hobbit by Tolkien.
The association of the serpent with a monstrous opponent overcome by a heroic deity has its roots in the mythology of the Ancient Near East, including Canaanite (Hebrew, Ugaritic), Hittite and Mesopotamian.
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The English word dragon and Latin word draco derive from Greek δράκων (drákōn), "dragon, serpent of huge size, water-snake".