An image circulating online allegedly shows a new species of dragon discovered in Indonesia. Is this real or false?
The image shows a gliding lizard.
Let’s first take a look at what is being claimed.
The photo below has been included in discussions such as this one entitled “Dragons Discovered in Indonesia” which claimed:
Agni (Sanskrit name meaning “fire”) is the newest hatchling of a recently discovered species in Indonesia. He was given the name by members of the initial research team because of his red wing coloring. While local Zoologists (scientists who study and classify animals) are hesitant to use the name “Dragon”, there is an unmistakable resemblance between this new species and the mythical dragons of ancient lore.
Although the claims above were posted in March 2012, the image itself predates the story, existing on several websites at least as far back as 2009.
It has been generally agreed by the experts we contacted that the creature depicted in the photo above belongs to the genus of gliding lizards, Draco. These lizards use folds of skin to form wings which they use to glide between trees. The lizards cannot sustain flight, but have been known to glide up to about 30 feet.
- This Flickr page, dated August 2009, lists the creature as Draco beccarii.
- The Wikipedia page for Draco sumatranus (“Common Gliding Lizard”) uses the same photo, also with a date of August 2009.
- Yet another page claims the photo shows Draco volans (“Common Flying Dragon”)
Below is another image of Draco volans commonly found online:
Animal Planet Video
Animal Planet featured the lizards in a segment. You can see that video below, entitled “Fooled by Nature – Draco Lizard.”
The Google Trends chart below shows search interest in the terms “dragon discovered.” As you can see, search interest only dates back to 2011, while photos of gliding lizards date back far beyond that.
The creature seen in the image above is not a newly-discovered species of “dragon,” but a gliding lizard of the genus Draco.
Updated July 25, 2015
Originally published December 2013