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WeesesDog

The Size Of Dragons

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I have recently been reading on the physical characteristics of reptiles and various other animals and considered how this might influence the growth rates and sizes of Dragons in Westeros.

 

Balerion the Black Dread was the only one of the Targaryen Dragons to be born in Valyria before the Doom. He is described as around 200 at the point of his death and in terms of size his teeth were as big as swords and he could swallow a Mammoth whole.

Vhagar was described as near the size of the Black Dread by the time of the Dance.

After that Vermithor is described as the oldest and largest and was the mount of the old king. However Dreamfyre was his older sisters mount yet Dreamfyre is not described in terms of size like Vermithor.

While we can infer from the text Dragons can change sex, in real life there is considerable sexual dimorphism between species. Whereby a male may be much larger and indeed this can be seen in crocodiles.

If similar sexual dimorphism was to exist in Dragons this could explain the size variances between the Dragons described in Fire and Blood.

For example we could assume Vermithor and Silverwing were similar of age but Vermithor is always described as the larger. This could be a result of the sexual dimorphism between Vermithor as a male and Silverwing as a female.

We also hear in the books 'dragons never stop growing'. This has also been said of crocodiles.

 

However as they grow they grow older they grow stouter and heavier as opposed to longer and I believe this may be true of Dragons. For instance because of the square cube law the weight of a crocodile increases approximately cubically as length increases.

So a younger Dragon could potentially almost match an older for length but not approach it in mass.

 

So in the case of Crocodiles a 16ft specimen is only 4 feet shy of a 20ft specimen. Yet due to the square cube law the 20ft specimen would be twice the weight.

Vermithor at nowhere near the age of Balerion could have for example been 160ft in length compared to the Black Dreads 200ft. The size difference does not seem that big until we take into account if that was the case Balerion could have been twice the mass.

One of the points I wanted to make is I believe Danys Dragons will attain sufficient size to be unmatched weapons of War. They do not have the time to approach the size of Balerion or Vhagar but as we can see from Fire and Blood even a young dragon like Tessarion could turn the tides of battles.

It may also be that Drogon is an outlier and simply 'bigger'.  After a few short years he now big enough to mount and clearly views himself as an apex predator.

In a similar way crocodiles are born small but studies show males grow considerably faster than females. They then grow a foot a year which then slows and at a point they fear nothing as there are very few animals that can be a threat once they are grown.

 

I believe the life cycle of Dragons may be similar except they grow faster. So they exhibit considerable sexual dimorphism and grow swiftly to a point but then as they age this growth slows but mass increases. There are also exceptional cases where one individual is simply bigger which we see across all species and Drogon could well be one of these.

I believe this would be a logical explanation for the size discrepancies amongst the Dragons described in the Dance and also how Danys dragons will easily attain the necessary size to be able help her in her conquests though they are not nearly the size of Balerion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Time and food.  Give a dragon a sufficient amount of both and they will continue to grow.  We also do not know the time span of the story.  I don’t think it will be 200 years but fifty is reasonable.  The dragons may not arrive in Westeros until after a few decades of growth.  True, that’s not enough time to attain the size of Balerion but that is not necessary.  Large size will result in a slower dragon. Size isn’t everything.  
 

Dany’s eggs came from Asshai.  Drogon may be a different species from Balerion. His rate of growth may be different.  

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This theory makes sense and holds weight. George may not be thinking along these rather specific lines but regardless it works with what we know about dragons. In fact, it answers some questions.

Sunfyre was a young dragon, compared to many others during the dance, but he survived a direct bite and attack from Meleys, several wounds from Grey Ghost and a final struggle with Moondancer. He is referred to as male, so if this means he grew faster than other female dragons like Meleys, this makes sense. Also, Syrax, an older female dragon, is described as ‘huge’ and ‘well fed’. This may just be in reference to proportional size but the phrasing suggests that she is bulky, which fits your theory that dragons experience very fast growth length wise first and then as they age they put on weight. Rather like most animals who quickly grow in height/ length before their metabolism slows and it becomes easier for them to put on weight, e.g. cats, dogs, humans etc.

Indeed, my profile picture, Vhagar killing Arrax above shipbreaker bay by the artist Sam Hogg, interestingly depicts this. Arrax has a long, snake like neck and body, while Vhagar’s neck LOOKS shorter in proportion to the rest of her body but it’s still far longer than Arrax’s, it’s actually just thicker/ wider because of age (she was 181 and this is the only artwork I’ve seen that does her size justice at this age, she’s far too small in all the others.)

Something I raised in my own topic, ‘dragon taming: blood of the dragon or sorcery?’, was that Drogon reached a rideable, 20ft wingspan size in a year and a half, whilst the dragon Morning was born in 129 or 130 ac and was described as rideable by 135ac. Morning is also female, and Drogon seems to be male. This differing growth rate is easily explained by your sexual dimorphism theory, or indeed your assertion that Drogon is very unique in his growth rate.

As for Vermithor vs Dreamfyre and Silverwing, your theory again explains this odd detail. I have been wondering why Dreamfyre was not as big as Vermithor.

And I quite agree, this would make Dany’s dragons fast growth rate make sense given that they’re all implied to be male, and make them larger ready for the dance of the dragons 2.0.

The ONLY discrepancy here is the idea that dragons can change sex, and maester Aemond’s quote, ‘as changeable as flame’ suggests they could do it often. If dragons constantly change sex, this probably wouldn’t impact their growth rate. It wouldn’t make sense if it did, they would grow and shrink overt the course of months or years and this would be noticeable enough to mention by Gyldane, but he never does. So either dragons actually can’t change sex and your theory holds, or they can change sex and are so changeable that sexual dimorphism isn’t a thing for dragons. Regardless, your theory about all dragons initially growing in length before later growing in weight makes perfect sense and is practically canon given how older dragons are described. ‘Huge’, ‘well fed’, and ‘formidable’. In the case of Balerion, ‘heavy’ and ‘sluggish’. The only outlier is Caraxes who at half the size of Vhagar was described as both ‘huge’ and ‘lean’ but this could just mean more ‘muscular’ than ‘heavy’, or perhaps he hadn’t started the weight gaining phase yet.

Summary: I like and agree with your theory, and dragons growing in length and then weight seems supported by historical descriptions in F&B. The only problem with your sexual dimorphism theory being dragons may be able to change sex, which if they experience sexual dimorphism would make their size and weight fluctuate to the point of being a disadvantage, and this would have been noticeable enough to be recorded. But given how F&B frequently described the dragons as either male OR female, and indeed the new paperback actually went to the trouble of correcting certain dragon pronouns, there is thus far zero evidence that Aemon was right in his theory that they can change sex.

Edited by TheTargaryenHistorian
Corrections

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The OP and replies were just fun to read.  Your interest in the dimorphism of reptiles as applied to dragons was well conceived and presented.  I love coming to this place and learning something.  Welcome, @WeesesDog and you, too @TheTargaryenHistorian.  

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2 hours ago, Curled Finger said:

The OP and replies were just fun to read.  Your interest in the dimorphism of reptiles as applied to dragons was well conceived and presented.  I love coming to this place and learning something.  Welcome, @WeesesDog and you, too @TheTargaryenHistorian.  

Why thank you! I only joined the forum very recently and I’m still reading the main series, but I loved Fire and Blood so much I decided to post my own topic on it and contribute what I could to dragon related discussions. This message of support is greatly appreciated and makes me feel very welcome so thank you!

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I'm inclined to believe the theory that dragons can change sex, seeing as it came from Septon Barth, the hand to The Old King, who I assume hand plenty of time to study many of the Targaryen dragons up close. And I mean lets not forget, we like to try to come up with rationalizations for them based on real life animals, but these are magical creatures. There are even some theories that dragons didn't exit in the world to begin with but were created by Valyrian blood magic. So changing sex, and having varying body types doesn't seem all that far fetched coming from something that breaths fire.

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If there was a sexual dimorphism people would have figured that out. Instead, people have no clue about the sexes of dragons unless they lay eggs and they consider this as a sign of them being female.

Also, there are other freak occurrences there with Meraxes being much younger than Vhagar and Balerion but larger than Vhagar upon her death if we take the head of her skull as an indication.

Dany's dragons also grow much faster than any of the other dragons as far as we know if we compare their growth rates with those of Rhaenyra's sons, the dragons of Jaehaerys and Jaehaera, and Moondancer.

After all, we would assume their eggs hatched when their future riders were still infants/toddlers, meaning after 10+ years they were still pretty small and Moondancer scarcely large enough to be ridden. She pretty much has the size of Drogon when Baela confronts Aegon II at Dragonstone.

Also, Quicksilver was still pretty small after 30+ years compared to Vermithor and Silverwing in the early 50s when they were scarcely fifteen years old - if we assume that they did indeed hatch from eggs Rhaena put in the cradles of her siblings.

Edited by Lord Varys

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Dragons raised in confinement will not grow as fast as those who have the freedom to roam.  There are many factors which can affect the rate of growth.  Genetics and diet will affect growth significantly.  

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2 hours ago, ShimShim said:

I'm inclined to believe the theory that dragons can change sex, seeing as it came from Septon Barth, the hand to The Old King, who I assume hand plenty of time to study many of the Targaryen dragons up close

Despite being that close to the dragons, Septon Barth was not able to figure out anything about dragons. Dragons being able to change their sex came out of his mind with no evidence along with it. It might be acceptable, but still has no proof. 

What I realised is that there are dragons that never lay any eggs, and there are other dragons that lay, but lay many. Just like Syrax or Dreamfyre, for example. This might be a proof against Barth's theory, might not be, I see this as an evidence against Barth's theory, but this is my personal opinion, after all.

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1 hour ago, Daeron the Daring said:

Despite being that close to the dragons, Septon Barth was not able to figure out anything about dragons.

Well we don't really know how much he figured out, because Baelor the Befuddled had his book on the subject burned. I think we might find out if its true from the book the faceless assassin in Oldtown is trying to steal from the citadel, Blood and Fire (sometimes called, Death of Dragons), which is supposed to be all about dragons.

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4 minutes ago, ShimShim said:

Well we don't really know how much he figured out, because Baelor the Befuddled had his book on the subject burned. I think we might find out if its true from the book the faceless assassin in Oldtown is trying to steal from the citadel, Blood and Fire (sometimes called, Death of Dragons), which is supposed to be all about dragons.

The Death of Dragons will likely reveal many things. Still, what I find suspicious is that he "published" his theory without any proof. Hope we'll get the answer for it, I'm curious about it.

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17 minutes ago, The Grey Wolf said:

@Lord Varys

Don't forget Morning.

Morning seems to have grown somewhat faster. She seems to have hatched late in 130 or early in 131 and was already large enough to carry Rhaena about four years later. That's pretty impressive.

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2 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Morning seems to have grown somewhat faster. She seems to have hatched late in 130 or early in 131 and was already large enough to carry Rhaena about four years later. That's pretty impressive.

I believe it was actually either 129 or 130 ac that she hatched and she was described as large enough to ride by the third month of 135ac, so yeah approx 5 years.

The problem is definitely the fact that we don’t know whether cradle egg dragons like Vermax, Arrax and Tyraxes hatched very quickly after being placed in the cradle or if it took years. It seems to have been within a year. However Arrax was the middle dragon of the two in terms of age, and was a fifth the size of Vhagar, which isn’t actually very small. I’d say it’s still larger than Dany’s dragons are currently.

Dany has to cling to Drogon’s neck to keep from falling off, suggesting his 20 foot wingspan description is accurate and makes him still far smaller then Arrax. In fact if Rhaena was able to ride morning comfortably with a saddle, morning was probably bigger in 135ac than Drogon is currently as well.

Edited by TheTargaryenHistorian

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Perhaps changing gender is not the best way to describe the dragons.  Every dragon could have had both male and female physical abilities.  In other words, every dragon has the ability to lay eggs, if they choose to do so.  

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5 hours ago, TheTargaryenHistorian said:

I believe it was actually either 129 or 130 ac that she hatched and she was described as large enough to ride by the third month of 135ac, so yeah approx 5 years.

We first hear about her around 130/131 AC, when Aegon II has returned to KL. If she had been around longer, Rhaenyra wouldn't have been as determined to return to Dragonstone ... because she wanted to find dragons. If she had known that a dragon had hatched in the Vale she would have gone there.

Thus Morning likely hatched around that time, which makes her scarcely older than four years when Rhaena first mounts her. And keep in mind how small Morning is when Rhaena first returns to KL. She has about the size of Dany's dragons shortly after they hatched.

5 hours ago, TheTargaryenHistorian said:

The problem is definitely the fact that we don’t know whether cradle egg dragons like Vermax, Arrax and Tyraxes hatched very quickly after being placed in the cradle or if it took years. It seems to have been within a year. However Arrax was the middle dragon of the two in terms of age, and was a fifth the size of Vhagar, which isn’t actually very small. I’d say it’s still larger than Dany’s dragons are currently.

Yes, he could have been somewhat larger than Drogon, but Moondancer wasn't. And Lucerys clearly wasn't yet a very experienced dragonrider.

5 hours ago, TheTargaryenHistorian said:

Dany has to cling to Drogon’s neck to keep from falling off, suggesting his 20 foot wingspan description is accurate and makes him still far smaller then Arrax. In fact if Rhaena was able to ride morning comfortably with a saddle, morning was probably bigger in 135ac than Drogon is currently as well.

That could be, but we do need more information about dragon saddles and stuff. Dany's problem seem to have more to do with Drogon having no saddle so far.

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46 minutes ago, Oumuamua said:

Perhaps changing gender is not the best way to describe the dragons.  Every dragon could have had both male and female physical abilities.  In other words, every dragon has the ability to lay eggs, if they choose to do so.  

Asexual reproduction in dragons is certainly possible. Dreamfyre lays eggs on a voyage around Westeros without another dragon to mate with. However she could have mated with another dragon before she left. Also, thefact that onlookers believed the fight between Seasmoke and Tessarion to actually be a mating dance would hint otherwise.

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15 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

We first hear about her around 130/131 AC, when Aegon II has returned to KL. If she had been around longer, Rhaenyra wouldn't have been as determined to return to Dragonstone ... because she wanted to find dragons. If she had known that a dragon had hatched in the Vale she would have gone there.

Thus Morning likely hatched around that time, which makes her scarcely older than four years when Rhaena first mounts her. And keep in mind how small Morning is when Rhaena first returns to KL. She has about the size of Dany's dragons shortly after they hatched.

Quoted from the wiki of ice and fire:

Morning was born during the Dance of the Dragons[126] from an egg Rhaena Targaryen brought with her to the Vale. Rhaena left for the Vale in late 129 AC,[98] and had been born by late 130 AC.[127]

As such, Morning was born in 129 AC or 130 AC.‘

I do need to read F&B again but this seems definitive, so if we say 130ac as a compromise that still makes her approx 5 years old when large enough to ride. But yes you’re right about her being small enough to be draped around Rhaena’s shoulders when she returned to KL.

As to your Rhaenyra point, why bother? Surely Morning would already be bonded with Rhaena as she hatched under her care. Rhaenyra may have gone to the Vale but it would be to get assurance of Morning’s birth and Rhaena’s loyalty, not to claim morning. This even explains why she went to Dragonstone instead, she wanted her own egg or hatchling.

15 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Yes, he could have been somewhat larger than Drogon, but Moondancer wasn't. And Lucerys clearly wasn't yet a very experienced dragonrider.

I agree Moondancer was about Drogon’s size, that seems supported by the similarity in how the two dragons are described as barely rideable.

as for Lucerys being an inexperienced dragonrider, source? All I found on his page was that he was young in general but Arrax would have been able to outpace Vhagar on a clear day and it was the storm that doomed them, not Lucerys being an inexperienced dragonrider. Besides, given Vhagar’s size there was nothing he could do to win in a fight anyway.

15 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

That could be, but we do need more information about dragon saddles and stuff. Dany's problem seem to have more to do with Drogon having no saddle so far.

Yes this could be true but if we take George at his word that Drogon has a 20 foot wingspan, which isn’t really very big, fitting any kind of useful saddle on him would be impossible anyway. I think it’s very telling they Dany is described as straddling his neck and having to cling on with her hands as well to keep from falling off, and don’t forget George’s dragons are very snake like in body shape so this difficulty make sense given how his shoulders and back were probably not much wider than his neck.

Edited by TheTargaryenHistorian

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54 minutes ago, TheTargaryenHistorian said:

Quoted from the wiki of ice and fire:

Morning was born during the Dance of the Dragons[126] from an egg Rhaena Targaryen brought with her to the Vale. Rhaena left for the Vale in late 129 AC,[98] and had been born by late 130 AC.[127]

As such, Morning was born in 129 AC or 130 AC.‘

I do need to read F&B again but this seems definitive, so if we say 130ac as a compromise that still makes her approx 5 years old when large enough to ride. But yes you’re right about her being small enough to be draped around Rhaena’s shoulders when she returned to KL.

That is just the wiki giving us the period in which Morning must have hatched. The fact that Rhaenyra looked for dragons on Dragonstone and not in the Vale is a hint that she couldn't have known that she hatched - and that puts Morning's hatching closer to the end of 130 AC. Likewise, the Greens also only learn about Morning after Aegon II had returned to KL.

The hatching of a dragon during the Dance would have been a big deal, and Rhaena and Jeyne Arryn wouldn't have kept it a secret.

54 minutes ago, TheTargaryenHistorian said:

As to your Rhaenyra point, why bother? Surely Morning would already be bonded with Rhaena as she hatched under her care. Rhaenyra may have gone to the Vale but it would be to get assurance of Morning’s birth and Rhaena’s loyalty, not to claim morning. This even explains why she went to Dragonstone instead, she wanted her own egg or hatchling.

No, dragons are only claimed when they are mounted. Prior to that you might have an affinity with your dragon(s) - like Dany did with all three of the dragons she hatched - but you have to mount a dragon to make it your own.

In that sense - Rhaenyra could have taken Morning for herself ... although, considering she was no warrior, she would have likely pushed the dragon on her heir, Aegon the Younger.

54 minutes ago, TheTargaryenHistorian said:

as for Lucerys being an inexperienced dragonrider, source? All I found on his page was that he was young in general but Arrax would have been able to outpace Vhagar on a clear day and it was the storm that doomed them, not Lucerys being an inexperienced dragonrider. Besides, given Vhagar’s size there was nothing he could do to win in a fight anyway.

They have him ride to Storm's End which is considered the 'safer route'. He certainly was experienced enough to fly for an entire day, but they did not think it wise to have him make the kind of journey Jace did.

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14 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

That is just the wiki giving us the period in which Morning must have hatched. The fact that Rhaenyra looked for dragons on Dragonstone and not in the Vale is a hint that she couldn't have known that she hatched - and that puts Morning's hatching closer to the end of 130 AC. Likewise, the Greens also only learn about Morning after Aegon II had returned to KL.

The hatching of a dragon during the Dance would have been a big deal, and Rhaena and Jeyne Arryn wouldn't have kept it a secret.

I agree morning was probably born in 130ac, especially given her smallish size when Rhaena brought her to KL.

14 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

No, dragons are only claimed when they are mounted. Prior to that you might have an affinity with your dragon(s) - like Dany did with all three of the dragons she hatched - but you have to mount a dragon to make it your own.

In that sense - Rhaenyra could have taken Morning for herself ... although, considering she was no warrior, she would have likely pushed the dragon on her heir, Aegon the Younger.

This is conjecture. There is plenty of textual evidence that Targaryens can bond with hatchlings. Aenys was sickly and weak, but improved drastically once he was given Quicksilver. The youngest dragons during the dance are referred to as ‘unridden’, not unclaimed. Baela was already bonded to Moondancer, she just hadn’t ridden her yet. Dany was already bonded to Drogon, she just hadn’t ridden him yet. The fact that Dany screams in pain at the same time as Drogon when he is stabbed proves that there is a magical, psychic link between them already before she rides him.

For this reason, Rhaenyra could have known about Morning hatching in the Vale but still gone to Dragonstone to get her own egg or hatchling to bond with, as she knew Morning was already bonded to Rhaena.

14 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

They have him ride to Storm's End which is considered the 'safer route'. He certainly was experienced enough to fly for an entire day, but they did not think it wise to have him make the kind of journey Jace did.

Yes this is true, a pity Rhaenyra didn’t know about the approaching storm or Lucerys and Arrax may have been spared their grizzly fate.

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