Thursday, May 21, 2020

Dragons = Insects

You know dragons are bugs, right? Think about it. They have six limbs, hibernate for long periods of time like a cicada, and have tough exoskeletons. They are also polymorphic and have nuptial flights. What, you didn't know about those? 

Dragon Biology
This is a dragon. Dragons look like giant horned lizards, but they are insects. This is because of convergent evolution- the evolutionary successful structures of a muzzle filled with sharp teeth and leathery wings evolve in any species, no matter how distant to each other, because it's so successful. Dragons also have a two-chambered organ in their throat that allows them to breathe fire; no different then a bombardier beetle. Those aren't horns, they are antennae. Dragon horns are actually one of the most sensitive parts of their body, but what is sensitive to a dragon is much harder and stronger then any body part a human would find sensitive.

Dragons being insects even explains their fighting styles. Why the hell would a dragon land in a middle of a group of highly trained warriors and engage them with claws and teeth? They wouldn't- they'd keep flying overhead. But dragons can't keep doing that- their bodies need to return to a resting position. They need to stop and go to breathe and regain the pressure in their pneumatic muscles- these aren't the same as mammals with flesh and blood. They bleed thick black ichor, magically charged, to keep that big body alive.

Dragons are also eusocial insects, just not in a way that humans understand it. Remember- evolution means that creatures don't necessarily have to be happy about their place in the world to keep it going, nor do the creatures themselves need to understand it. Dragon “Queens” are the traditional six limbed dragon. They live in lairs and lay eggs, hoard treasure, and are said to be the cornerstone for the entire dragon species. But remember, dragons are polymorphic. They have “castes” determined by birth.

The
workers of the species are the kobolds. They are reproduced by the queen, but not directly. Eggs and incubation is far too costly and slow for such a disposable minion. Instead, kobolds generate from the subtle dragon dust that emits from a sleeping dragon; her lair is covered in the stuff, and will gently mix with the moisture and nutrients in the cavern system until the first few kobolds appear. From then on, the kobolds can reproduce on their own, but it's not a true reproductive system, only drones making more drones as far as the species is considered.

The warriors of the species are wyverns. Dragons themselves are much more powerful then wyverns of course, but the queen is precious and spends most of her time sleeping to incubate her next offspring. Wyverns are born unintentionally from the queen- she isn't even aware that the wyverns are her offspring. These lesser creatures are born from dragon dung- the dung containing tiny eggs that rapidly grow into wyvern eggs and then hatch into self sufficent wyverns that flock together in colonies. Then, these wyverns attack and kill intruders into the dragon lands, acting as a barrier and defender for the “colony” they know nothing about.

Finally, the reproductive males/drones of the species are the longs, or in otherwords, the Eastern dragons. They are not born with wings, their flight is magical. The longs will seek to mate with a female dragoness, coil around her for mating, and then promptly die. Despite being disposable male drones, they take just as long to incubate as a queen dragoness. This is believed to be for two reasons; the first is so they hatch at the same time for coordinated breeding, and second so that when the long dies, the mass of magical energy his body has will infuse the local ecosystem and bring more power to the territory of the dragons; helping to activate the breath weapons of young dragon females and bring magical creatures to their lands; a favored food for the hungry drakes.

Now it's important to mention that, with all that out of the way, dragons don't necessarily have to know any of this. And the ones that do, may not like it.

Dragon Culture
Insects are short lived creatures. They don't have time to learn things; their instincts teach them what they need to know, gained through evolutionary pressures. In the same way a spider is born knowing how to spin a web, the same way a dragon learns the draconic language, the basics of spell-craft, and the understanding that gold is valuable. It's still evolution, just fantasy evolution. If your fantasy world is a billion years old, with cultures rising and falling and the world being reset with new races and cultures and technologies, then these basic facts become evolutionary pressures. Perhaps in ancient days dragons were dumb brutes, or they had to spend decades tutoring their offspring, but not so anymore. They are still solitary creatures despite being a part of a “hive”, the hive is just spread out of differing beings with different goals and often conflicting with each other- it doesn't actually matter if the parts of a 'hive' hate each other. The organism as a whole will live on, evolution works either way.

But not all dragons like this. The most common are the long. Many of them learn early on that they will die, in fact most know it innately as a hatchling. The understanding of their own mortality gives the long a wise disposition even from a young age. They know that soon the nuptial flight will occur and they will mate and then die. This gives them an outlook on life that is unique to the races of men and elves. But not all longs accept this fate. Many run; they fly away to far lands, resisting their impulses and living a life of chastity and celibacy. This is why every culture where longs are common, they are even tempered, enlightened being. Virginity is required for true enlightenment, and in the same sense, the long are born with that choice.

But it's important to understand; the larger and more complex an organism is, the longer its life expectancy tends to be. This is why once a Long escapes its fate, it lives for thousands of years, maybe forever. Even though it's a disposable entity, it has the 'parts' for a much longer lifespan. Dragons don't have natural predators, except for the occasional Giant Evil Spider; spinning a web between distant mountain spires and capturing two or three migrating young, unlucky dragonoids.

3 comments:

  1. This is really cool, you've clearly thought this through. It explains and combines multiple different types and interpretations of dragons, it has a plausible pseudoscience behind it, and it makes dragons more interesting while still maintaining their core identity.

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  2. "Virginity is required for true enlightenment"

    I'm always saying this, big up

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