The Pickled Dragon Hoax


There are many believers, Dragon Zoo amongst them, who have confidence that it’s more than possible that once, long ago, dragons were not confined to the realms of fantasy but instead prowled the earth and ruled the skies.

So it’s always encouraging when we receive news of possible dragon discoveries, scientific theories that support the existence of dragons, or even the odd dragon sighting. And while it can be frustrating sifting through the sheer number of hoaxes that we find, sometimes we have to applaud the ingenuity of some people.

Take David Hart and Allistair Mitchell who in 2004 reported that they had found a baby dragon in a garage in Oxfordshire, England, with a bundle of old documents purported to be from German scientists of the 1890s offering the dragon to the British Natural History museum.

The Pickled Dragon Hoax

The dragon was perfectly preserved in a jar of formaldehyde, leading many media outlets to claim that it had been ‘pickled’, and its discovery briefly caused a flurry of interest worldwide.

Mitchell, who was tasked with investigating the discovery said at the time that he didn’t believe it was a real dragon but “the dragon is flawless, from the tiny teeth to the umbilical cord. It could be made from indiarubber, because Germany was the world's leading manufacturer of it at the time, or it could be made of wax. It has to be fake. No one has ever proved scientifically that dragons exist. But everyone who sees it immediately asks, 'Is it real?’”



Speculation mounted that Germany had created this baby dragon and offered it to Britain as a way to discredit the museum and boost their own country’s standing in the field of natural history. Oxford University apparently offered to autopsy the dragon to uncover its secrets. It seemed as though it was a mystery that would remain unsolved.

However, all mystery was eventually blown away when Mitchell signed a lucrative book deal for his novel Unearthly History. As part of his drive to get his book published, Mitchell hired the team behind BBC’s Walking With Dinosaurs to create the model, and then created the media storm himself. Dragon Zoo tips its hat for the effort.

The Pickled Dragon Hoax

Mitchell has since released The World of Eldaterra, Volume One: The Dragon Conspiracy under his pen name P.R.Moredun.

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