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John Suburbs

Lizard Lions in the Neck

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This is somewhat of a riff on lemongate, but has more to do with Westeros ecology.

Travelling back from Florida last week it dawned on me that the state has two things in abundance: alligators and citrus fruit. The farther north you go, the smaller and fewer both become until you get to mid-South Carolina or so where they disappear entirely. This is why the disconnect between lemons and lizard lions is so odd: if it is warm enough for LLs, big ones at that, to thrive in the Neck, then there should be lemons, limes, oranges, pomegranates and all other kinds of citrus fruit growing from the Neck on down. And if that were the case then it would be very possible for a lemon tree to be growing outside in Braavos.

The only place we ever hear of lemons growing, however, is in Dorne. So if that is the case, then how can large gators possibly exist as far north as the Neck, particularly when you consider they wouldn't have to hibernate for just a few months but for years at a time?

So, is this a simple mistake, a contrivance, or might there be something else going on?

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Posted (edited)

Well, you can find plenty of yacare caimans in the Brazilian Pantanal, but not many lemon plantations

Edited by Tucu

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Posted (edited)

You're expecting alligators and lemon trees to occupy the same ecological niches on Planetos as they do on Earth.  They don't have to behave the same on both worlds.  Maybe the lizard lions in the Neck are warm blooded?  Maybe GRRM simply doesn't know that gators and lemons trees need similar climate conditions. 

Edited by White Ravens

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There are lemons in the Value, so they are either growing or importing them from somewhere. 

They grow fruit in the glass gardens at WF. 

Lemons aren't quite as hardy as peaches but we know those grow in the Reach. 

Stannis drinks lemon water at the wall as well.

It wouldn't really surprise me if there were spots in each kingdom -- except the Iron Islands due to poor agriculture -- that produced some type of citrus, be it in a large orchard environment or inside a greenhouse.

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39 minutes ago, Tucu said:

Well, you can find plenty of yacare caimans in the Brazilian Pantanal, but not many lemon plantations

The Pantanal is still tropical, though, isn't it? It's closer to the equator than Florida. It would seem to me that they could grow lemons at that latitude if they wanted, but I think most of it is protected. They grow oranges in Sao Paulo, which is to the south and west.

I'm not saying there should be lemons in the Neck, just that if the climate there is warm enough to support gators, then lemons should be easy to grow virtually all over Westeros, not just in Dorne.

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We don't know if lizard lions "work" the same way as real-life crocodiles or alligators do. It might be that cold-blooded animals are able to withstand much lower temperatures than those of our world. Considering that their world experiences years long winters one would presume the wild-life has adapted. In any case I suspect that lizard lions are probably semi-magical in nature much like the direwolves are so perhaps that helps them too.

In any case, I doubt there is citrus fruit in the Neck as there doesn't seem to be any in the Riverlands with which is probably shares a similar, if not slightly colder. Water does tend to help insulate so the Neck probably doesn't get as bad a cold-spurts as the rest of the North but the presence of bogs in indicative of a cool, cold climate (like the times we have in the UK and Ireland) perhaps even colder. So, yeah, no citrus there unless the crannogmen are actively cultivating it somehow for food.

Not that I give "Lemongate" any kudos whatsoever. The lemon tree was in Bravos, most likely in the sealord's palace. That's all there is to it until I see more evidence than a red door and a lemon alone. 

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39 minutes ago, White Ravens said:

You'rer expecting alligators and lemon trees to occupy the same ecological niches on Planetos as they do on Earth.  They don't have to behave the same on both worlds.  Maybe the lizard lions in the Neck are warm blooded?  Maybe GRRM simply doesn't know that gators and lemons trees need similar climate conditions. 

Warm-blooded alligators, well that would be a twist I suppose. It would be odd, then, for the people of the area to equate them with lizards, as I would think they would know the difference between a lizard and a mammal. But if that is the case, then why don't hear about lizard lions anywhere else, north or south? The WB specifically mentions "crocodiles" lurking in the Zamoyos in Sothoryos, which I would think is even more tropical than Dorne, but a warm-blooded croc shouldn't have any trouble living north of the Wall.

So yeah, maybe an LL is a completely different creature, or just a Martin goof-up.

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34 minutes ago, Universal Sword Donor said:

There are lemons in the Value, so they are either growing or importing them from somewhere. 

They grow fruit in the glass gardens at WF. 

Lemons aren't quite as hardy as peaches but we know those grow in the Reach. 

Stannis drinks lemon water at the wall as well.

It wouldn't really surprise me if there were spots in each kingdom -- except the Iron Islands due to poor agriculture -- that produced some type of citrus, be it in a large orchard environment or inside a greenhouse.

Well, sure, you can grow anything inside a greenhouse, but I don't think it's likely that the entire Neck is housed in a giant greenhouse.

I'm pretty sure that the lemons at the Wall and Vale and Winterfell are imported, from Dorne apparently.

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1 minute ago, John Suburbs said:

Well, sure, you can grow anything inside a greenhouse, but I don't think it's likely that the entire Neck is housed in a giant greenhouse.

I'm pretty sure that the lemons at the Wall and Vale and Winterfell are imported, from Dorne apparently.

Frankly we have no idea for Dorne. Winterfell is almost certainly from the greenhouse. It's more than warm enough:

"No. It was always warm, even when it snowed. Water from the hot springs is piped through the walls to warm them, and inside the glass gardens it was always like the hottest day of summer."

The wall would have to import them. It doesn't have to be Dorne though. Braavos might have greenhouses but I'm sure more of the southern free cities have citrus-bearing trees. Myr, Tyrosh, and Lys are roughly the same latitude and pretty heavily involved in trade, especially fruit and byproducts. 

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Posted (edited)
30 minutes ago, John Suburbs said:

The Pantanal is still tropical, though, isn't it? It's closer to the equator than Florida. It would seem to me that they could grow lemons at that latitude if they wanted, but I think most of it is protected. They grow oranges in Sao Paulo, which is to the south and west.

I'm not saying there should be lemons in the Neck, just that if the climate there is warm enough to support gators, then lemons should be easy to grow virtually all over Westeros, not just in Dorne.

I was going by not just temperature/latitude differences (terrain, humidity, etc). If you are looking at just latitude a century ago the yacares used to live in the wetlands in the south of the Buenos Aires province (a temperate region in Argentina). I saw some a bit further north, in the limit between Buenos Aires and Santa Fe

Edited by Tucu

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7 minutes ago, Faera said:

We don't know if lizard lions "work" the same way as real-life crocodiles or alligators do. It might be that cold-blooded animals are able to withstand much lower temperatures than those of our world. Considering that their world experiences years long winters one would presume the wild-life has adapted. In any case I suspect that lizard lions are probably semi-magical in nature much like the direwolves are so perhaps that helps them too.

In any case, I doubt there is citrus fruit in the Neck as there doesn't seem to be any in the Riverlands with which is probably shares a similar, if not slightly colder. Water does tend to help insulate so the Neck probably doesn't get as bad a cold-spurts as the rest of the North but the presence of bogs in indicative of a cool, cold climate (like the times we have in the UK and Ireland) perhaps even colder. So, yeah, no citrus there unless the crannogmen are actively cultivating it somehow for food.

Not that I give "Lemongate" any kudos whatsoever. The lemon tree was in Bravos, most likely in the sealord's palace. That's all there is to it until I see more evidence than a red door and a lemon alone. 

True, these could be a hardy form of cold-resistant creature, but then they would exist elsewhere on the continent, no? Plying the waters of all the rivers and lakes, lurking in all the marshy areas on the Marches and Westerlands -- they would even exist north of the Wall. People wouldn't think much of the fierce lizard lions in the Neck because there would probably be even bigger, fiercer ones elsewhere on the continent.

And, not to get into lemongate, but if lemons could grow out in the open in Braavos, then they could grow openly from the Riverlands on down in Westeros. The whole continent would be awash in citrus of all kinds, especially after a long summer, and there would be no reason for Sharna to say "Does this look like Dorne to you, you freckled fool?" when Anguy asks for his duck with lemons. But if the sealord's lemon tree is under glass, then so would the house with the red door. It would have to be one helluva a greenhouse for little Dany not to notice that she was living inside of it, which then begs the question why no one ever mentions what would be probably the most stunning work of architecture in all of Braavos, if not the known world.

But magic works too. Supposedly, the Neck was created by magic, so there is no reason to think the children wouldn't magically empower the crocs to live there as well.

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14 minutes ago, Universal Sword Donor said:

Frankly we have no idea for Dorne. Winterfell is almost certainly from the greenhouse. It's more than warm enough:

"No. It was always warm, even when it snowed. Water from the hot springs is piped through the walls to warm them, and inside the glass gardens it was always like the hottest day of summer."

The wall would have to import them. It doesn't have to be Dorne though. Braavos might have greenhouses but I'm sure more of the southern free cities have citrus-bearing trees. Myr, Tyrosh, and Lys are roughly the same latitude and pretty heavily involved in trade, especially fruit and byproducts. 

Yes, I get all that. My question, though, is if it is warm enough for large crocs to thrive as far north as the Neck, then why aren't lemons, oranges and all other kinds of citrus growing out in the open all over the southern half of the continent?

I hate to do it, but I'm leaning toward magic on this one. The children created the Neck by magic, or so we're told, so it stands to reason that they would also empower the crocs there to withstand the long cold winters.

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15 minutes ago, Tucu said:

I was going by not just temperature/latitude differences (terrain, humidity, etc). If you are looking at just latitude a century ago the yacares used to live in the wetlands in the south of the Buenos Aires province (a temperate region in Argentina). I saw some a bit further north, in the limit between Buenos Aires and Santa Fe

Yes, I'm sure it would be difficult to create a lemon plantation in the middle of a giant swamp. My point was that lemons and crocs can only thrive in tropical or moderately temperate zones, so if it's warm enough in the Neck for lizard lions to grow large enough that they are a threat to humans, then it should be more than warm enough to grow lemons from the Riverlands on down. The whole continent should be awash in citrus, but according to Sharna and others, the only lemons are to be found way down in Dorne, which is mostly desert.

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Posted (edited)
24 minutes ago, John Suburbs said:

Yes, I'm sure it would be difficult to create a lemon plantation in the middle of a giant swamp. My point was that lemons and crocs can only thrive in tropical or moderately temperate zones, so if it's warm enough in the Neck for lizard lions to grow large enough that they are a threat to humans, then it should be more than warm enough to grow lemons from the Riverlands on down. The whole continent should be awash in citrus, but according to Sharna and others, the only lemons are to be found way down in Dorne, which is mostly desert.

It is probably warm enough to grow lemons, but that is not the only required factor; soil, decease, humidity, knowledge, etc should be considered. GRRM decided that Dorne is the only place in Westeros with all the right conditions for mass producing lemons; maybe because it doesn't freeze every winter.

Edited by Tucu

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4 minutes ago, John Suburbs said:

Yes, I'm sure it would be difficult to create a lemon plantation in the middle of a giant swamp. My point was that lemons and crocs can only thrive in tropical or moderately temperate zones, so if it's warm enough in the Neck for lizard lions to grow large enough that they are a threat to humans, then it should be more than warm enough to grow lemons from the Riverlands on down. The whole continent should be awash in citrus, but according to Sharna and others, the only lemons are to be found way down in Dorne, which is mostly desert.

That also assumes that there is no volcanic activity anywhere near the neck. I'd say that a volcanic eruption is at least as likely as the children breaking the neck with magic. WF has hot springs. I have a vague memory of someone/something mentioning the Dreadfort has hot springs too, but I can't find a direct reference to it and it's probably not canon anyway.

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Posted (edited)
54 minutes ago, John Suburbs said:

True, these could be a hardy form of cold-resistant creature, but then they would exist elsewhere on the continent, no? Plying the waters of all the rivers and lakes, lurking in all the marshy areas on the Marches and Westerlands -- they would even exist north of the Wall. People wouldn't think much of the fierce lizard lions in the Neck because there would probably be even bigger, fiercer ones elsewhere on the continent.

 

Well, endemism is a thing and animals don't necessarily need to be stuck on an island like the dodo for it to happen. They might only thrive in the Neck due certain ecological factors unique to that wetland area that they rely on and don't exist elsewhere on the continent. Plus, again, magic might be a factor.

A more likely scenario to me though is that lizard lion numbers, much like many of the other magically-large animals, could have declined due to humans over-hunting them and encroaching on their habitats.  In comparison, the crannogmen are supposed to have grown close to the CotF after all so this value of magical qualities and "working with nature attitude" might mean they consciously don't overhunt the animal populations, meaning they have an overall less destructive impact on the environment compared most societies. So, who's to say the lizard lion wasn't once more widely found in other areas but they have become a threatened species over time like so many other animals in Westeros?

Edited by Faera

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Maybe lizard lions are not based on crocodiles or alligators. Could be, that their base is Komodo dragons. They have long tongues, same as lizard lion, depicted on banner of House Reed. They look alike. And Komodo dragon IS a lizard.

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It is very warm and close to tropical in the Neck. Just go back and read how the plant and animal life there is described when people actually hang out there.

There are also poisonous snakes in the Neck, creatures that are also not likely to thrive in a climate as cold as the North's - if we go by out standards.

But there is no reason that we have to ascribe our standards to this world. The Neck seems to be a magical place, and magical places don't have to be all that realistic. What makes the Neck so warm a place is unclear. We might find out - or not. But there is no doubt that George didn't make a mistake to have crocodile-like creatures in the Neck.

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9 hours ago, Megorova said:

Maybe lizard lions are not based on crocodiles or alligators. Could be, that their base is Komodo dragons. They have long tongues, same as lizard lion, depicted on banner of House Reed. They look alike. And Komodo dragon IS a lizard.

More likely that they are inspired by both. There is definitely a crocodile/alligator element to them due to them staying in the water much of the time, unlike the komodo dragon, which was first described as "the land crocodile". It might be a fantasy cross between a crocodile and a komodo dragon, only much bigger than either. Plus, the komodo dragon has very venomous, which would fit into the theme of the Neck have various venomous snakes and lizards. 

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13 hours ago, Universal Sword Donor said:

The wall would have to import them. It doesn't have to be Dorne though. Braavos might have greenhouses but I'm sure more of the southern free cities have citrus-bearing trees. Myr, Tyrosh, and Lys are roughly the same latitude and pretty heavily involved in trade, especially fruit and byproducts. 

Loin fruit perhaps?

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