In color dragons varies from greenish to golden, with a series of alternating short and long spines extending down the back and along the tail, where they become longer. One specimen had wings at its side, and walked on top of the water. Another tossed its mane back and forth making noises that sounded like a flute.
Cow-heads are also common. A ten-footer, found lying on the banks of China's Yangtze River, was different from most because of its long, thick eyebrows. A Yellow River variety, seen on shore in the 1920s by a Chinese teacher, was bright blue, and as big as five cows. Both dragons crawled into the water as soon as it started to rain.
A few dragons begin life as fish. Carp, who successfully jump rapids and leap over waterfalls, change into fish-dragons. A popular saying, "The carp has leaped through the dragon's gate," means success, especially for students who have passed their exams.
Male dragons sometimes mate with other kinds of animals. A dragon fathers an elephant when he mates with a pig, and he sires a racehorse, after mating with a mare.