Originally posted by Bosse de Nage
You're positing the existence of Stone Age Chinese paleontologists who could successfully excavate and interpret archeopteryx fossils. OK, maybe there were such experts before the advent of modern paleontology. But why don't Chinese dragons have wings?
Nah. Sometimes the fossils show themselves. I renember reading about a cliff that had an entire skeleton (of an ichthyosaur maybe) showing with no excavation. I wish I could find a reference.
Here's an example of fossils showing themselves:
In the case of the Isle of Wight, the cliff erosion that occurs at places like Yaverland and Compton Bay has caused the cliff lines to retreat, exposing the fossils in the cliff.
Keep in mind that fossils are often found in sedimentary rock, squished flat between two layers. Such layers can come apart fairly easily, as anyone who's played with soft sedimentary rock knows.
Some Chinese dragons do have wings. Apparently such wings grew out of the front limbs. For example:
Chinese dragons are occasionally depicted with bat-like wings growing out of the front limbs
Many dinosaurs are found up in the Himalayas at high elevation. How else could such large, fierce lizards get up there? Clearly even the wingless dragons could fly.
As far as the fire breathing goes, I'm not sure that either Chinese dragons or Native American feathered serpents were said to breathe fire. The Chinese dragons have lots of powers, but seem to have mostly water based powers. The only mention of fire I can find is that they can change into fire...not quite the same as breathing it.