Monday, April 07, 2008

Eudracos magnificentissimus

E. magnificentissimus was the first dragon named, in 1821. At the time, it was the only dragon known to science, although certainly not the only dragon known). It was described Von Burne the following year. At a mere twelve feet in length (with a wingspan of 30 feet), Eudracos is a medium-sized dragon. The animal tends to be purple with occasional black stripes, and a yellow underbelly. It ranges mainly through the lowlands of the UK, although a large population is known in Scotland. The dragons feast mainly on farmer's livestock, and in these instances they are considered a nuisance. However, most farmers admit that the animals do not take a harsh tole on their herds. Eudracos will also attack deer and small mammals. Human casualties are rare but known. Eudracos magnificentissimus is not an aggressive dragon, and individuals will often fly away when approached by man. Its breeding habits remain frustratingly unknown. The species is not sexually dimorphic, although Carol (1925) noted that females tended to have reduced facial ornamentation in comparison to males. In regards to size, color, and overall shape, however, males and females do not differ at all.

Eudracos is unique in having numerous spiny projections on its face. The snout is short and square--typical of true dragons. Eudracos sports two large horns which are project back from the head, above the eyes. In addition, several smaller horns erupt from the jugal region of the skull. A double-row of bony spines runs down the vertebrae, ending at the tip of the tail. The forearms are short and four-fingered, while the wings are enormous. The fifth wing finger has been lost, but the remaining four are all involved in supporting the wing surface. This is unlike the case in E. lacerta, in which the greatly reduced first wing finger is free of the patagium. Eudracos also displays a non-reversed hallux, one of the many features separating dragons and wyverns.

Eudracos and its sister taxa, E. lacera, Sinuospondylus brekkie, and Megalodracos ezmerelda may form a monophyletic clade, the Eurodracocidae, although evidence for S. brekkie to be included in such a grouping remains ambiguous. M. ezmerelda, however, is almost certainly a sister taxon to Eudracos, although the former is much larger and and lacks the dramatic caudally-directed cranial horns which would otherwise typify the group. Fossils which are confidently assignable to Eudracos date back to about 25,000 years ago, although molecular data (Milnar, 1998) implies an older split between it and Megalodracos, but exactly how much older is unclear. E. magnificentissimus and E. lacera seem to have diverged about 13,000 years ago, which coincides with the Agracultural Revolution. Whether this man-driven phenomenon has any bearing on the divergence of the two species remains speculative.


Von Burne, R. (1822). On the anatomy and relationships of the greater European dragon, Eudracos magnificentissimus, with comments on European dragon diversity. Royal Journal of the Natural Sciences 23(2): 602-690.

Carol, B. (1925). Sexual dimorphism in Eudracos. European Journal of Draconology. 15(3): 926-958.

Milnar, H. O. (1998). Molecular evidence for recent divergence between Eudracos and Megalodracos. Natura Historia 405: 1117-1126.

Coming up next: Eudracos lacerta, the mountain-dwelling, aggressive sister species of E. magnificentissimus.


Christopher Taylor said...

Eudracos and its sister taxa... may form a monophyletic clade, the Eurodracocidae...

Shouldn't that be Eudraconidae?

I would also like to point out that I had not seen this before commenting on the previous post.

Zach Miller said...

Probably should be. That's certainly easier to say. :-)

lantaro said...

First of all, you're a nerd. Second, THAT IS FUCKING AWESOME.