With Game of Thrones Season 6 right around the corner, fans of the show are preparing themselves to find out the fate of Jon Snow, Daenerys, and, most importantly, her dragons. While Drogon, Rhaegal, Viserion, or any other dragon aren't real, dragons have played a real part in history. Time published a brief examination of the history of dragons on Friday, pointing out that the very idea of what a dragon is isn't clearly defined.

“In today’s world we often define a dragon as a giant, scaly, winged, reptilian beast, often that can breathe fire,” he says. “In the ancient world this wasn’t always the case. They were very often giant serpents of various kinds.”

And that’s not to mention dragons in Asian cultures or the early Mexican deity of the feathered serpent Quetzalcoatl, who are further from the dragons on Game of Thrones. Or that tons of different archaic words have been translated into English as “dragon.” Or the fact that many myths have been refracted through the lenses of various conquering cultures, maintaining their monsters but often losing some of their more complicated pre-monotheistic worldviews. Though some dragon myths are probably independent—anywhere with snakes or lizards could conceivably be a place that generates its own mythical scaly things—they became interwoven over time, Fee says, as travelers and traders brought stories from distant lands. (That same “telephone game” process of communicating myths happens with real creatures too, he says, as can be seen with early rumors about crocodiles and hippopotami.)

Head over to Time to read more.

Feature image via HBO