Creatures of Folklore Part 4: Dragons, Pangea, and Ethics

imageContinuing on the subject of dragons, a fossil of a true dragon has never been found which may discredit the notion of one ever exsisting. However there is a science to life. Everything is possible if certain conditions come to be. Lets work out the problems and perhaps find the answers we are looking for.

The problem can be put very simply. How did a creature of the size recorded stay aloft, and indeed hover?

Flight depends on these two laws:

I) the air pressure below the wing must be greater than the air pressure above the wing. This difference gives the animal its “lift”.

II) the lift must be greater than the total weight of the animal.

The record in the animal kingdom for lift is held by the Canada goose, which lifts 4.2 pounds of body-weight for every square foot of wing. The swallow, by comparison, lifts 0.3lb. Apart from birds, the record belongs to the bumble-bee, which lifts 2.5lb. The difference is accounted for by the peculiarity of feathers, which allow air to pass through them above to below but not in the opposite direction, and so increase the pressure difference. Some artists have drawn dragons with feathered wings, but they always look wrong; so it is fair to allow our dragon a lifting ability equivalent to the bumble-bee; then to lift 40,000lb; The dragon would need around 16,000 square feet of wing.

Now being as large and heavy as dragons would have been described in various stories throughout the ages; anything as big as a dragon could not possibly have flown. However think of a hot air balloon. Hot air rises and by confining hot air within a balloon from igniting a flame at the bottom hot air balloons lift and float. I believe dragons used this science to fly and stay aloft. Dragons could fly because most of their bodies were hollow, and filled with a lighter-than-air gas. They needed an enormous body to hold enough gas to provide lift for the total weight of the beast. Dragons did not need enormous wings, because they used them only for propulsion and manoeuvring. Dragons breathed fire because they had to. It was a necessary part of their specialized mode of flight.

By this logic dragons raise themselves into the air and then being to heavy they fall. No animal which has gone to the lengths of evolving flight can also be too heavy to fly. Essentially in order to fly dragons must have been weightless. Most likely due to a gas within them much like a hot air balloon.

Male dragons would compete for courtship of a potential queen compared to rutting deer, in which the males battle with each other for the right to fertilize the females; but where stags fight with their antlers the dragons fought with their flaming breath. As with most mating contests this would have been a highly ritualized form of battle, with little damage inflicted and most of the warfare consisting of pure display.

based on the air balloon theory, dragon-wings were comparatively small (though still far larger than the wings of any other flying creature). Due to the fact they were not used for lift but to steer and glide. The original observer of the mating ritual would be likely to be so impressed by sheer size of the dragons’ bodies that he may not even notice the wings until they were suddenly spread for flight.

Therefore every dragon would have different evolutionary components that lend to their everyday activities depending on their geographical placement. When Pangea was in form, dragons must have fought a lot and territory could also have been claimed in these battles. Squatting ground was determined upon which dragon won the fight, and each dragon would develope determinate upon what they ate; fish, goat, deer? Probably a very high protein diet to produce a lot of gas, within the stomach.

~ Johnny Ryan ~