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Make Dragons Great Again

Submitted by: Goshin @ 01:26 PM | Friday, September 30, 2016 | (url: http://www.bbc.co...)


"Reptiles can master many problems that mammals can," says Gordon Burghardt of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. "Complex problem-solving, reversal learning, social learning, complex sociality, tool use and individual recognition have all been discovered."

Some of the more intelligent reptiles are the larger species with correspondingly large brains, such as crocodiles and monitor lizards. Another potential contributor to intelligence is longevity, which has also been associated with bigger brains. Dragons are certainly not lacking in size, but what about lifespan?

Many dragons of legend are eternal, ageless creatures, whose lives can only be ended at the hands of a burly hero with a big sword. While actual immortality is unlikely, reptiles like giant tortoises and tuataras can clock up well over a century. The key to such extended lives could be a slow pace and a correspondingly slow metabolism.


Bowerbirds are a different matter. To attract females, male bowerbirds line the floors of their "bowers" with all sorts of treasures, albeit humbler ones than those found in a dragon's lair. Instead of jewels and coins, bowerbirds hoard berries and pieces of broken glass.

Our dragons are shaping up nicely. So far we have prehistoric reptiles, maybe a sister group to the giant pterosaurs or giant snakes, with advanced cognitive abilities to match their size and longevity, and a complex mating system based on the procurement of shiny, metallic objects.

Imagine an evolutionary convergence that bestows analogous chemical weaponry on an enormous reptile. Two glands in this creature's neck secrete the necessary solution, and when they mix in the back of its throat, a jet of gas and scalding liquid is expelled from its mouth.

Such a creature is highly implausible, of course, but then so are bombardier beetles.


lets speed up evolution on dragons