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Author Topic: The dragon/hollow bones?/No fire-breathing?  (Read 7250 times)

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Offline Sentinel

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The dragon/hollow bones?/No fire-breathing?
« on: June 12, 2005, 06:47:13 AM »
This was  thought that crossed my mind. Their ability to fly is one characteristic that has always made them stick out, but how are they able to fly? Well, like other birds you say. But you must remember that birds have hollow bones, making them able to fly better due to less weight. Well, if you think about it, wouldn't that be susceptible to dragons as well. Your talking about something that weighes most likely more then ten tons and is able to fly higher then clouds with dense bones? Plus, the fire-breathing? In prehistoric times, dragons were more like the taradactals(sp?) and you see them not as big or able to breath fire. So what if dragons were really like that.

In order to fly, dragons would have to be extremely smaller to create lift with their wings, and in order to do so they would have hollow wings. This would make them less fragile and unable to take a hit from a boulder from a catapult.

Dragons don't really need to breath fire, they are dangerous enough as it is, a mouth the size of a mini van with sharp teeth would make me crap in my pants without the fire.
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Offline Alec_Shadowkin

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Dragons aren't neccessarily impossible
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2005, 07:46:38 AM »
They're just unlikely.

What makes you say they weight ten tons? If it weighed ten tons it wouldn't be able to walk because there is no bone structure that would be able to  support it. Also, dragons have been claimed to have hollow bones, though keep in mind that, even in birds, those bones aren't ridiculously brittle. There are some pretty big birds and its not as if their bone structures are set at the breaking point.

As a side note, also keep in mind that dragons are from fantasy settings. They are generally at least somewhat powerful in the arcane arts. The fact that they are magical means that regardless of what their weight is or how their bones are they would still be able to fly.

On the subject of fire-breathing. There was an article a year or two ago in the NY Times, from a number of scientists who said that a fire-breathing animal was biologically possible. A large number of animals have to use gizzard stones(ordinary gravel and such that the animal swallows) in order to digest. The stones are kept in an area of their digestive system and they mash and pound all the food. A similar way could be used to create a spark. By having a pair of flint as the stones, the animal could create a spark. All that would now be needed is a creature with this gizzard pouch who exhales a flammable gas as part of their respiratory system. Voila, fire-breathing critter.
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Offline CaptainPenguin

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The dragon/hollow bones?/No fire-breathing?
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2005, 10:27:36 AM »
Expanding on the fantasy point...

Why does everything in a setting have to make scientific sense? It's another world, with different, looser rules, with more malleable laws of nature. Just say that. Why do we need to change anything about the dragon?
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Offline MoonHunter

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The dragon/hollow bones?/No fire-breathing?
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2005, 10:30:38 AM »
How did ancient peoples who had no contact with each other come up with the same basic concept of dragons? Working with production crews from around the world and collaborating with top scientists, artists and animators, Animal Planet's new special combines scientific fact and theory, CGI animation, and cutting- edge special effects to bring dragons to life.

Why am I posting this, because they covered all of the basics that have graced a number of boards over the years. And they did it with coolest CGI I have seen in a while.

---------------------------

Animal Planet's Dragons Made Real.
Patrick Stewart's resonant voice introduces the viewer to the many cultures that have dragon stories and art. As he relates the similarity of each culture's depiction of the mythological beast, he asks "How did they fly and how did they breathe fire." Then poses the question, what if they found a body?

Stewart leads us to the Carpathian Mountains of Romania. According to legend, it's where the dragon made its last stand. The story now takes us to a fictional account of skiers who come upon ice caves opened during an unseasonably warm winter. As a team explores the caverns, they find the remains of 15th century men dressed in armour. As the team enters the final cave, they find the perfectly preserved corpse of a dragon.

Questions are asked, and we are taken further back to the Cretaceous Period to an examination of the prehistoric dragon. A T-rex and a dragon are battling for food. With a piercing shriek that stuns the dragon. The cry travels for miles, but the t-rex continues to attack. The dragon tries one more "trick," its mother comes flying in. The Dragon is larger than the dionsuar. As it attacks and tears its wing, the dragon lets go blasts of fire. The t-rex will die during the night. The injured dragon has received a fatal blow from the T-rex. The young dragon must learn how to fly on its own or it won't be able to hunt and survive.

Stewart introduces us to a hypothetical scientific team investigating how the dragon could fly. It is compared to creatures such as a bat. The size of the heart, skeletal structure and weight are studied. A pair of leathery organs, like a second set of lungs are "discovered" and exmained. They contain hydrogen. How the gas is produced is explained (acid plus platinum). How fire is made by the dragon. How they fed, mated, and raised their young. How dragons survived the meteor strike that made extinct most of Earth's life. Whether there is a connection between dragons and sea monters. How they survived predators, such as tigers and Man. It also explains their extinction in the 1300s.  
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Dragons: A Fantasy made Real uses the same computer-generated imagery (CGI) as was used for Discovery Channel's Walking with Dinosaurs and Walking with Prehistoric Beasts, as well as for the Harry Potter movies. We'll see dragons from the inside out as the special imaginatively presents how they could have evolved into various species through the ages and around the world. The story will also speculate about how each species physically adapted to and developed specialized behaviors for its unique environment. They will be portrayed as real animals mating, raising young, protecting their turf and struggling to survive the presence of human beings.

http://familyscreenscene.allinfoabout.com/tv/dragons.html
animal.discovery.com/convergence/dragons/dragons.htm

OR IT COULD BE MAGIC!
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Offline Incarnadine

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The dragon/hollow bones?/No fire-breathing?
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2005, 01:06:47 PM »
Sadly, it is physically impossible for a dragon to fly, merely because the wings would be hundreds of feet long. If you look at the ratio between the size of a bird's wings to its body (like an eagle, for example) the wings are huge.

Firebreathing is, however, possible, as pointed out before. Also easier to describe in a fantasy setting.

Of course, the nice thing about fantasy is it is, in fact, fantasy. You can do whatever you want.

Offline Anteaus

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The dragon/hollow bones?/No fire-breathing?
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2005, 02:36:25 PM »
However on a note about wing-length my understanding of those giant bumble bees is that they should not be able to fly due to the wing-to-body ratio being off, now WHY that is I have no idea...does anyone else know? But that should be a good case for 'scientific' dragon flight.
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Offline Incarnadine

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The dragon/hollow bones?/No fire-breathing?
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2005, 02:49:04 PM »
Quote from: "Anteaus"
However on a note about wing-length my understanding of those giant bumble bees is that they should not be able to fly due to the wing-to-body ratio being off, now WHY that is I have no idea...does anyone else know? But that should be a good case for 'scientific' dragon flight.


Because the ratio increases as the weight of the creature increases. Hence, an eagle has a longer comparative wingspan than a mosquito.

Also, bumblebees can move their wings quite a bit faster than birds, giving them more power.

Offline Scrasamax

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Science Versus Magic
« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2005, 06:48:47 PM »
This is something that I commonly see in the forums, the rationalization of magic, and mythical creatures in terms of science. It isnt something that I particularly like, and now I will tell you why.

One of the biggest, most important things of mythology, and magic is that it defies dissection by magic. If you cut open the goose that lays the golden eggs, that specialness about the goose is gone, and you are left with a pile of steaming goose-guts. Magic and its associated creatures arent to be taken literally, but in a figurative or symbolic nature.

A huge fire-breathing, flying reptile that eats livestock in a single bit is a huge symbol for absolute power incarnate. Since no one can agree on the physical dimensions of a dragon, ratios of wingspan, and weight cannot be determined. Anne Rice's dragons were not much larger than housecats to the size of horses. Other fantasy dragons boggle the mind at being measured in miles in length. Arguing over the scientific validity of such a creature is ludicrous.

Quote
What makes you say they weight ten tons? If it weighed ten tons it wouldn't be able to walk because there is no bone structure that would be able to support it. Also, dragons have been claimed to have hollow bones, though keep in mind that, even in birds, those bones aren't ridiculously brittle. There are some pretty big birds and its not as if their bone structures are set at the breaking point.


The theoretical weight limit of a terrestrial animal is estimated to be in the area of 200 tons. This is estimated by the tensil strength of calcium carbonate bone, and the diameter of a bone required to bear such an animal. This 200 ton quadruped would be in the neighborhood of 300 feet long, and have legs nearly 60 feet in circumfrence.

Sauropod dinosaurs such as the apatasaurus, or brontosaurus have been proven to have very strong, but hollow bones. Their vertebrae are less dense than water, yet are still strong enough to maintain the mass of an animal weighing in excess of 10 tons.


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Offline Kinslayer

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The dragon/hollow bones?/No fire-breathing?
« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2005, 12:46:52 AM »
I agree with you, Scrasamax.  Making magic into science ruins its "magic."  As the intro to Spelljammer stated, the simple answer is "it's magic;" the more involved answer is "it's magic, and it knows it's magic.'"

There's a fine zone of something making sense within context, between over-rationalisation and a deus ex machina cop-out.  Thus in a fantasy image of a Dragon, a wingspan that appears to be about twice body length is believeable, but one with tiny butterfly wings or wings like those of a 747 jet will look ridiculous.  

Then again, I cheated with the Dragons in my setting:  they are spirit-beings more like those found in the mythology of southeast Asia than western Europe.  It's much easier to fly when you have a mass of 0 kg.
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Offline MoonHunter

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The dragon/hollow bones?/No fire-breathing?
« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2005, 12:46:15 PM »
If you want a realistic, large saurian creature that may or may not be able to fly and may or may not be able to breath fire, then we are talking dinosaur. (Flying may be possible requiring the creature to have large hydrogen bladders, and then all it takes is a spark and belching to generate fire.)

You know, a little tinkering and some renaming and these could be used for some serious monsters.

I could list a dozen or two links, but his page lists all the ones I would of throught of... and more.
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Offline Anteaus

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The dragon/hollow bones?/No fire-breathing?
« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2005, 03:06:45 PM »
MoonHunter, I bow to you.  

You have more knowledge then I knew was even around...wow..and not just in this one, but in other forums as well...that rocks man
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Offline Maggot

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The dragon/hollow bones?/No fire-breathing?
« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2005, 11:09:33 AM »
Dinos,eh? That gives me an idea. Would it be feasible to introduce into a setting,a wide variety of dino based monsters,that while intelligent and fearsome,are nowhere near as large or mythical as dragons? In lands where no true dragons exist,these ''lesser dragons'' could be seen as the closest thing there is to a real dragon,and are thus seen with almost as much reverance as the real deal.
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Offline MoonHunter

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The dragon/hollow bones?/No fire-breathing?
« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2005, 11:18:14 AM »
Yes, very much so, I would think. It would be a change from the world. Instead of nice safe forests/ jungles, your world would have to contend with huge megafauna. It would make for a world where people clump together behind huge walls, safe from the large monsters that rumble through the world.  Roads would be raised platforms, bringing people out of the range of most critters (ala Tekumel). Life would be different with prevolent megafauna.

Of course, I like to add Dragons to my large megafauna.
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Offline Maggot

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The dragon/hollow bones?/No fire-breathing?
« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2005, 11:23:38 AM »
Interesting concept. Of course dragons would be seen as the ultimate megafauna,sort of like the t-rex in land of the dinos. They're the monster that other mega-faun are terrified of.
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Offline MoonHunter

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The dragon/hollow bones?/No fire-breathing?
« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2005, 12:04:00 PM »
Actually not really. There are a lot of critters that Dragons (at least how they are in Kerren) could not normally take down. Dragons might be near the top of the food web, but might not be the actual top. There are some dino critters out there that even a pack/ wing of dragons might have trouble taking down... especially if the critter is semi-aquatic.
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Offline Maggot

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The dragon/hollow bones?/No fire-breathing?
« Reply #15 on: June 17, 2005, 12:26:47 PM »
Ahh. Dragons are but the t-rex's to someone else's Megaladon? They're big,but not as big as some other carnivorous critters around? Awesome.
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Offline MoonHunter

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The dragon/hollow bones?/No fire-breathing?
« Reply #16 on: June 17, 2005, 12:49:20 PM »
Sure, if the critters were top of the environmental web chain, there would be no incentive to produce intelligence, firebreathing, mental/ magical abilities, etc. (and on Kerren, pack behavior).

Or if those things were required to be the "top of the web chaing", imagine how tough and dangerous the prey must be! Teleporting giant creatures, things with deflector shields, anti-magic beams, invisability, invunerability, etc.  Nah. It is better to settle everything to a more reasonable level.
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