Thursday, April 24, 2008

Dracospartus hallos

The newest living dragon to be described is Dracospartus hallos (Krause, 2003). Aside from Chasmodracos, it is the only bipedal dragon. Heavily armored and heavy-set, Dracospartus is small but flightless. While standing, the creature is only seven feet tall, but is also fifteen feet long when measured from nose to tail-tip. Its wingspan is a mere sixteen feet, so while unable to sustain flight, they are large enough to help the dragon hunt. Dracospartus is green, with yellow armor scales running down its chest, belly, and the underside of its tail. Most of its body, and especially the shoulder and back, are covered with largish bony scales. In rare form for a dragon, all of the limbs (including the wings) have four fingers (or toes). Each kneecap is covered in small spines. The shoulders, too, are decorated with somewhat larger black spines. Dracospartus has an odd head. The proximal half of the mandible is covered in spines, and a giant horn rises from the animal's nose. Another horn rises from between the eyes, and yet another from just behind the skull. The two latter horns are connected by a piece of thick skin, which connects further down the neck. Dracospartus can open its mouth almost 90 degrees. The wings are fairly immobile, and the outer finger is covered in thick scales. Bright yellow stripes run down the cheiropatagium. The wings cannot spread very wide, but the wing shoulders are very strong, and Dracospartus is able to complete a strong wing-stroke, even though it cannot get off the ground properly.

Dracospartus is a hunter of ungulates, although it is not above consuming small reptiles. The dragon chases its prey on two legs, but when within leaping distance, it leaps forward and begins flapping its wings, which results in a slightly longer jump. The dragon essentially "falls" on its prey, whereupon a crushing bite will kill its quarry. Dracospartus is a loner, and Krause wrote that in the two weeks he observed the creatures, he never saw two interact. The overabundance of armor plating on the dragon is a mystery. There do not seem to be any other dragons or wyverns in the area. Krause suggested that when individuals do interact, such meetings may not be friendly, and that these creatures developed their armored hide to protect themselves in intraspecific battles!

The dragons seem to enjoy sunning themselves in the morning hours. They will come out from whatever cave or forested area they live in and find a high, sunny spot for several hours and just sit, silently, on the ground, with their wings outstretched. Although they are quite heavy, Krause found many dragons in trees, and they had apparently climbed to their perches. The long fingers and laterally-oriented glenoids probably help in climbing.

Given that Dracospartus is such a recent find, its taxonomy is relatively unexplored. In his description, Krause gave the creature its own family, the Dracolympidae (fitting, considering its home), and suggested that Spinodracos was a basal member of that family based on he short spines erupting from the shoulder region, the shape of the lower jaw, and presence of extensive armor plating. Aside from Fletcher (2004), there have been no serious challenges to this hypothesis.


Krause, P. (2003). A heavily-armored Greek dragon. European Journal of Draconology 104(2): 308-329.

Fletch, F. R. (2004). A re-evaluation of the Eudracocidae. Draconium 45(4): 455-461.


lantaro said...

Very cool. Aptly named, as well sir!

The Flying Trilobite said...

Just found your blog through Laelaps - - awesome stuff!

I'll be backtracking quite a bit through your posts.