After ‘Beginnings – Part 1’ showed the Lion Turtle giving Wan and company the ability to bend fire, many fans questioned their prior knowledge regarding the origin of bending. Episodes of The Last Airbender showed us that creatures, such as dragons and badger moles, were the original benders. Many used this knowledge to infer that such creatures were also the source of bending. While there was nothing to contradict that assumption at the time, we now have proof indicating otherwise.
‘Beginnings – Part 1’ confirmed that Lion Turtles are actually the original source of bending. However, that doesn’t necessarily deem Dragons and Badger Moles useless. In fact, they are still very much a part of the origin of bending – just in a slightly less involved way.
Instead, creatures such as Dragons and Badger Moles are considered the teachers of their respective element rather than the supplier.
Even though Dragons don’t supply fire bending, they are still responsible for teaching benders the true meaning of fire bending. Remember when Zuko did The Dragon Dance during Book 3 of The Last Airbender? This taught him the true meaning of fire bending and made him more powerful than ever.
During the course of ‘Beginnings – Part 1’, Wan also did The Dragon Dance and became noticeably more powerful.
That same rule also applies to Flying Bison (air bending), Badger Moles (earth bending) and the Moon (water bending). They are all, in a way, teachers of the element rather than the supplier.
So in short: Lion Turtles are the original supplier of bending whereas Flying Bison, Badger Moles, the Moon and Dragons are the original benders/teachers of the element.