Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Kratodracos lunensia

Kratodracos is the most recently-described dragon known to science, known from Italy and published earlier this year by Gardner (2008). A relative newcomer to draconology, Garder named the beast as a rather tongue-in-cheek reference to the main character of God of War, a video game series starring a brutal Spartan warrior. The man is certainly apt, as is the species name, which reflects the dragon's mostly nocturnal habits. Obviously a member of the Dracolympidae, Kratodracos possesses the numerous spines and plates so characteristic of that group. This animal, however, is unique is a number of ways, including the hypertrophied claw sheaths on the fingers and toes, which resemble scythes. The wings are broad but oddly constructed: There are four wing-fingers, and the thumb has been lost, replaced by a spike-like "cap." The patagium only stretches between the wing-fingers and the elbow, with no connection to the torso. Furthermore, a finger-like projection arises from the elbow, although it is not connected to the patagium or the bones of the wing-arm. The projection looks like a finger but is immobile. Embryological studies are required before the projection's osteological origins can be known.

Kratodracos is a deep red color, with pale yellow claws and a yellow underbelly. The patagium is also pale yellow, though blue and black eyespots are visible on the outside of the patagium. The inside of the mouth, including the tongue, is a deep blue color. The animal's shoulder spines are yellow, but the dorsal spines, knee spines, and cranial spines are black. While Gardner didn't see any females during his time with Kratodracos (that he could tell), he was able to to witness what appeared to be the mating ritual of the male.
As night fell, one male switched between walking and flying up a high peak near his cave home. The dragon stood bipedally at the highest point of the hill, spread his wings regally, and, for lack of a better term, "coughed" loudly into the night sky. After about fifteen minutes of this, the dragon settled to onto all fours to, Gardner imagined, await a reply. No answer came, and after an hour of restless waiting, the male glid back down the hill and retired to his cave. Throughout the night, several other dragons were heard, hoping for mates. This could also be a case of territorial advertising.
Painfully little is known of Kratodracos, which is understandable given its very recent discovery. It is smaller than Dracospartus, standing only five feet tall (when bipedal) and ten feet long. It is not as flightless as its larger cousin, but is clearly on its way there, as the male described by Gardner seemed to prefer flying and walking equally. Like Dracospartus, the species may display significant sexual dimorphism in terms of armor plating and spines.
Gardner, N. (2008). A brief encounter with a new species of Greek Dracolympidae. European Journal of Draconology 109(1): 47-50.

1 comment:

lantaro said...

Niiiice. I find it interesting. Does it feast on local wildlife?! Wildebeasts? Gnus? Jackals?!