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Which part of the body do you fancy?




Fire: the thing that makes the dragon most feared. It's a hellish belch of flame that can turn flesh and bone into ash. Though, not all dragons breath fire. Some have freezing cold breath, others have acid, and some don't use their breath as a weapon at all! The two that have fire breathing power are the Red Dragon and Fire Drake.

HOW DO THEY BREATH FIRE?
It all starts when the dragon catch their prey. When dragons eat, they digest the food in a regular stomach. The digestion then continues in a second stomach that breaks down the food even further. After the dragon's body has used all it can from the second digestion, the body then turns the leftover food and acid into a byproduct of hydrogen. The dragon can hold the hydrogen in various large glands in it's body for later use, and can call upon it at any time it needs to. When the dragon needs to belch it's flame, the glands release the hydrogen into the lungs where it mixes with other various chemicals the body creates. Once this mixture finds oxygen, it burns extremely hot, and very quick. The dragon usually has enough hydrogen in its body for about three spits of flame, but that should be plenty for anything coming up against a large red dragon. This explanation is about the same for dragons that breath other types of breath. Their bodies just break down food into different compounds.


THE SKELETON

The Western dragon Eudraco magnificus occidentalis has a sturdy skeleton structure. Large head, long neck, broad shoulders, thick legs, strong tail, and very large wings. The dragon's bones are very strong, but hollow and light. A dragon's jaw is large to accommodate the very strong muscles around it. The dragon is able to dislocate its jaw, as some snakes are able to do, to grab large objects. The dragon has two types of teeth because of it being an omnivore (It will eat meat and plant food). The canine and incisor teeth of a dragon are long and razor sharp, but also have molars to chew their food instead of eating it whole. The shoulder bones are thick to handle the large wing muscles needed to fly. The wing "finger" bones are very long to wrap the thin flight membrane taut around them. There are many species of Western dragon, and this is only one example showing the different bones of the skeletal system.

The skeleton system of a typical Western Dragon:

The Oriental (or Eastern) dragon Dracoserpens Lung orientalis has a extremely long, thin skeleton structure. It has a medium sized head, very long neck, short legs, small hips, and a long tail. This skeleton is very maneuverable because of the shape, such as a long snake is. It can twist and turn its body in all sorts of ways. This type of dragon does not have hollow bones, and the dragon's skeleton is thin because it doesn't need the mass to accommodate flight muscles. This dragon does not have any type of wings as it flies with earth-magic verses brute strength.

The skeleton system of a typical Eastern Dragon:


OUTSIDE THE BODY

The dragon can be a huge creature depending on the breed. The one shown here is roughly 20 feet long with a wingspan of 35 feet. This type of dragon has extremely small ears, large eyes, spines down its back, and a bone-type spade at the end of its tail. All dragon breeds are different. Some have long ears, and no spade, and some have a fleshy-type triangle-shaped spade. This type of dragon also does not have scales, it has tough leathery skin. Most dragons have scales of some sort.

The body of a typical Western Dragon:


SCALES
Scales (and horns/claws) on a dragon are densely packed cells made up of keratin, a tough fibrous protein. When born, a dragon's scales are as soft as tissue paper, and slowly harden while the dragon grows. The iron from the blood, or vegetable matter the dragon eats is absorbed by the dragon's blood stream and mixed with the keratin to create steel-hard scales. The process of getting scales as tough as they can get takes about one year after being hatched.

COLOR
Scale color is determand by the genes of the parent dragons. Usually only red dragons will mate with other red dragons, etc. But if a mating took place between a gold and a green dragon, the result might be a bronze colored offspring. Scales on a dragon are never simply one shade of color. If a dragon is blue, there will be many, many shades of blue. Light, medium, dark, blue-black, etc. Scales are bright and shiny in a healthy dragon, but dull and muted if a dragon is ill.



The different scale shade of a dragon: red, blue, green, gold, copper and bronze.

CAMOUFLAGE

In some breeds of dragons when the dragon is mature, the cells in the scales are able to change color such as a chameleon due to chromatophore, the pigment cells in the scales.This reaction can be caused by emotion (anger, happiness,etc) or by the will of the dragon to change color. If the dragon is angered it can change from its original color to a bright, fierce color such as red, to look more intimidating or during mating rituals, it can flow certain color patterns on its body to attract other dragons. Since dragons are extremely intelligent, it can choose which colors to change into to match the exact background it is near including subtle shadow and highlights. It is so good at this, most things would just walk past a 65 foot dragon hiding in the sand.


A DRAGON'S ARMOR
The main function of scales is protection of the soft skin tissue of the dragon. An adult dragon can easily take a direct blow from a knight's sword and hardly flinch. Adult dragons have 4-6 inch wide, and 7-9 inch long teardrop shaped scales covering its body. The pattern of the body scales is a flat, rotating design that overlap each other. Easy movement is due to the unique depression on the top side of each scale that allows them to lay evenly flat on the body.

The scales on the chest area are the largest; easily being over a foot wide. The chest scales are one to three flat "scale flaps". These are shaped differently than a regular scale as they are more squarish. The pattern of the chest scales is overlapping and flat running from the throat, under body to the end of the tail. All of the scales lightly slide over each other, so when a dragon walks it will make a soft scraping sound. The overlapping scales make it difficult for anything to successfully injure a dragon.

An interesting fact is that the dragon can make the scales stand on end for washing. Also, when angered, the dragon can puff up, spread its scales, and look a lot larger than the dragon actually is. Lifting the scales is also an effective heat reducing element. Making the scales stand on end allows the skin underneath to release heat, thus cooling the large animal down quickly. A favorite past-time of dragons is to stand the scales up and go into a cool pool of water to allow it to run in between the scales and onto the sensitive skin.




MUSCLES

Western dragons have many more muscles then their Eastern cousins. This is mainly due to their massive flight muscles that have to lift their weight into the sky with the thrust of their wings. The main wing muscles are the Supraspinatus and Flexor alae major. Notice that the actual wing does not have many major muscles, it is all near the chest area. Other large muscles account for a very strong tail, and rear legs. The Western dragon could easily hold a human male's weight while in flight. Also notice the large jaw muscle Masseter, this muscle can easily crush bones.

The muscular system of a typical Western Dragon:

WINGS

The wing. The part of the dragon that distinguishes itself from all other creatures. The dragon wing is a huge, leathery appendage that is found on several different species of dragon. The wing is usually larger than the dragon's body to accommodate the incredible force needed to lift and maintain flight.

The bones within a dragon's wings:

BONES
The wing is essentially another arm and hand. If you look at the skeleton of a dragon front arm and claws, you will notice that the wing is just a very stretched out version. The two thick "arm bones" (humerus and wing radius) runs from the body of the dragon attaching itself with cartilage and muscle to an "elbow" of the wing. There are usually 4 or 5 elongated "fingers" on a wing each ending in a claw. One short "thumb" claw is at the "wrist". The "fingers" then attach themselves to the "wrist joints" to form the complete wing.

HOW DO THEY FLY?
The actual force of flight is the continuous down sweep of powerful wings scooping, and thrusting the body upwards. An immature dragon does not have the strength needed for a vertical jump from flat ground to take off. They will usually stay near higher cliffs to use the heat updrafts to keep aloft. It takes a few years of flying to build the extremely strong flight muscles needed to lift the dragon body from the ground. The wings make actually look small for the mass of the dragon, but all dragons have an innate magic ability to help them fly. This magic helps keep dragons from straining themselves during long flights.

WEAPONS
Dragons can also use their wings as an attack weapon if need be, but this is a last resort. The wing membranes are easily damaged compared to the rest of a dragon body. If a dragon wing membrane is slashed, it takes a very long time to heal, and there is a chance the dragon might never fly again if it does not heal correctly. If attacked on the ground, the dragon will usually run then jump in the air and fly off avoiding the attacker. But if the dragon is trapped on the ground it will tuck its wings tightly against its body and use its breath weapon and claws to protect itself. If the dragon has to use its wings to attack it will scoop down and slash with its razor sharp wing claws to immobilize the attacker.

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