Creature with 'a typical serpentine pose' existed more than 2,000 years ago, say scientists.
Detailed analysis of belt buckles unearthed by a Soviet tractor driver in the modern day Republic of Khakassia proves the existence of a distinct dragon on the territory of modern Russia, according to experts.
The mythical creature is seen as distinct from other dragons, notably those famous in China.
'In China of that time, which was Han era, a set image of a dragon, later one the main symbols of the national identity, did not yet exist. Yet the same period in Siberia we have a formed composition of dragon images in a typical serpentine pose,' said Andrei Borodovsky, a researcher from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, part of the Siberian branch of Russian Academy of Sciences.
'Although at the end of the first millennium BC the territory of South Siberia was under very strong Chinese influence, the buckles depicting the Iyussky dragon were most likely were produced locally. They were original, and not copies. It was an independent development of the image.'
'The dragon's figure is a symbol that allows us to say that Siberia has always had a set of particular, specific features as a cultural area.'
The dragon is seen as a talisman protecting the owner from danger, researchers have suggested.
Archeologist Vitaly Larichev said image of the Siberian dragon may be linked to ancient notions about the calendar and astronomy.
It is known that nearby ancient astronomic observations were held at an 'observatory' called Sunduki in Khakassia.
A Chinese dictionary from AD 200 reads: 'On the day of spring equinox the dragon flies to the sky, on the day of autumn equinox it delves into abyss and covers in mud.'
Dr Borodovsky believes that the Siberian dragon image were dated to the end of the first millennium BC until the second century AD.
Then they vanished.
Later dragons were copies of the familiar Chinese dragons with a zigzag movement.
The dragon buckles - some eight in number - were found by Iyus state collective farm worker Sergei Fefelov in the mid-1970s as he ploughed a field. Initially he thought the metal was a tractor part, but then he noticed the treasure was wrapped in birch bark.
Digging around, he found a large cauldron made of red bronze with 271 items inside.
New research on the buckles has disclosed the existence of the Siberian dragon in ancient mythology.
The case was highlighted in Science of Siberia, journal of the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences