I am writing these posts because I really love dragons. Hopefully, you will find them interesting. The following information comes from Dr. Drake’s very own compendia, which he penned during the Victorian era.
The European dragon (Draco occidentalis magnus) may now be found in mountainous regions the world over, having colonized the globe through its ability to fly. Though still rare, it is most common in Europe. This is the dragon species you have met most often featured in folklore and fairy tales.
13 to 17 feet high at the shoulder and 45 feet long
The torso is compact and muscular with a large head. It sports two fully formed, bat-like wings which are leathery in texture. It has four legs, the front being smaller and used for grasping – mark that this dragon has six extremities! Lastly, it has a flexible tail ending in an arrowhead.
Occasionally, the European dragon is gold in color, but mostly red, green or black. Very old specimens can turn almost pure white which is quite a sight to see. The belly has a smoother, paler appearance than the rest of the body, with less armor (knowledge knights used to treasure) than along the back and sides.
SCALES AND SPINES
This dragon has prominent scales on the back and tail as well as the legs, and sharp, thick spines along the edge of the backbone. Its skin is shed triennially, i.e. every three years. This shed skin is much sought after due to its fireproof qualities.
HEAD AND HORNS
The European dragon has an intelligent demeanor, with piercing eyes that can range in color from golden yellow to olive green. Variations occur between individuals in size, number, and pattern of head spikes, horns, and frills. Older males often develop prominent nose horns and horned frills around their cheeks. Both males and females display long wattle-like appendages beneath their jowls, though the purpose of these is not yet fully understood. Chin whiskers are also found in older males. Like most young dragons, European chicks have a small nose horn, which they use to break through the hard shell of their egg. This is shed at about six months.
The voice of this dragon is seldom heard, but when it calls, the sounds it makes range from a low growl to a deafening roar. The creature also utters a high-pitched whistle to show its affection. You will be among the lucky few if you ever hear it! Of all dragon species, the European dragon has the greatest talent for learning other languages. Most educated dragons can speak English fluently as well as their own language called Dragonish, though older individuals will speak nothing but Latin. In this modern age this proves a hindrance to communication, but if you wish to speak to any dragon more than 400 years old, you better practice your conjugations and declensions, friend!
The European dragon eats any large herbivores, i.e. deer, mountain goats, cattle, and sheep, as well as other farm stock if these domesticated animals happen to stray from the farms. The European has also been known to take humans, but due to their bitter taste, it only falls back on this kind of provision if nothing else is to be had.
Wild, mountainous regions are the European’s favorite haunt, though Europeans have been found in peat bogs and coniferous forests as well as on remote islands as well. Specimens may sometimes be seen perched on rocky crags or, in the case of juveniles, in the branches of ancient pine trees. But since European dragons dwell in caves just above the tree line, Alpine environments are perfect places for them: Living among mountains, they can hide easily. If you set out to study these elusive creatures, specialized climbing equipment is needed.
A mountain or sea cave will make for a cozy lair for this species, found almost always in an area away from human habitation and preferably having a single entrance.
FORMS OF ATTACK
This specimen will attack using flame as well as claw. It also uses its arrowhead tail as a weapon. Sometimes, males use horns to toss their victims.
Although many dragons like to hoard, the European is perhaps the most skilled at collecting treasure. Any shiny bauble may catch a young European dragon’s attention, but the older dragons are more discerning in their choice and will usually only pick precious metals, especially gold in any shape or form, as well as gemstones and other man-made items, such as mirrors. Books are also popular among educated specimens, believe it or not.
A subspecies of the common European, the mighty Tunguska dragon, also known as the war dragon, stems from the Siberian steppes of Eastern Europe. Always black in color, these dragons are no longer found in the wild because they have been domesticated by humans and bred over the centuries for use on the battlefield. Their brute strength and considerable stamina coupled with a generally dull-witted sensibility make them ideal for this purpose, which, of course, it quite unfortunate.
All dragons, with exception of the bucca, have perfect eyesight.
In addition to tough molars for grinding bone and sharp canines for tearing flesh, many species of dragon have fangs connected to a reservoir of flammable venom that enable them to breathe fire. The fangs act much like flint, creating the spark which will ignite their venom.
- Dugald A. Steer (Ed.): Dr. Ernest Drake’s Comprehensive Compendium of Dragonology. Somerville, MA 2009.
- Dugald A. Steer (Ed.): Dr. Ernest Drake’s Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons. Somerville, MA 2003.