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View Full Version : Dragons-how many miles can they cover in a day?



NoGuessing
07-21-2010, 06:47 PM
Hi guys.

So, I have these casual horse sized dragons that are very useful in warfare.

For those knowledgeable on bird flight, how far do you estimate something like this could go in one day?

I'm going to take a look at some flying dinos but I'm not sure there were any flying dinos big enough.

Drachen Jager
07-21-2010, 07:52 PM
Are we talking with or without a rider? I'd think if they're horse sized that it would be awfully tough to take off with a rider. How is the wingspan? Do they have to flap the whole way or can they glide like an albatross?

Anyhow, those are some questions to think about. The answers to your question are here.

http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/birds/migratio/speed.htm

Short answer is 100-500 miles per day, depending on too many factors for me to answer, it will be up to you to decide.

PeterL
07-21-2010, 09:39 PM
How much do they weigh? Something that size would have to eat amazing quanties of food to have enough energy to do much beside eat. You might tell readers that one of the best reasons for being slender is that dragons prefer fat people, because they have more calories.

GeorgeK
07-21-2010, 10:03 PM
It depends upon your dragons' physiology. Are they purely biological entities or are they part magic? Is this Earth based, or an alien planet with a higher partial pressure of O2? What's the gravity?

Chris P
07-21-2010, 10:09 PM
To add another wrinkle to all this, do we know if the flying dinos were able to take off from the ground like birds or were they gliders? That would make a big difference in musculature.

DeleyanLee
07-21-2010, 10:13 PM
They're dragons--they can move as far as the story needs them to move because they're FANTASTIC CREATURES.

Lock thread.

PeterL
07-21-2010, 10:56 PM
They're dragons--they can move as far as the story needs them to move because they're FANTASTIC CREATURES.

Lock thread.

So the question was about fantasy dragons, rather than real dragons? That would change everything.

DeleyanLee
07-21-2010, 10:58 PM
IIRC, the only real dragons are kimodo dragons and I don't think those are the kind that will ride very well. ;)

All other dragons are, by nature, creatures of myth and legend--the very basis of Fantasy.

PeterL
07-21-2010, 11:00 PM
IIRC, the only real dragons are kimodo dragons and I don't think those are the kind that will ride very well. ;)

All other dragons are, by nature, creatures of myth and legend--the very basis of Fantasy.

Just because you haven't met any doesn't mean that they aren't out there. Remember, dragons are smart, so they avoid humans. ;)

jennontheisland
07-21-2010, 11:01 PM
Well, the latest academic research shows....

Nothing.

That's because dragons are imaginary and will therefore do whatever you decide they can do within the confines of your made up world.

DeleyanLee
07-21-2010, 11:05 PM
Just because you haven't met any doesn't mean that they aren't out there. Remember, dragons are smart, so they avoid humans. ;)

Then there's no scientific statistics on them, so you're still free to make up whatever works for your story. :wag:

Bufty
07-21-2010, 11:08 PM
Who do you think is going to check up on how fast or far or high up your mythical dragons can travel?

jennontheisland
07-21-2010, 11:09 PM
Hi guys.

So, I have these casual horse sized dragons that are very useful in warfare.

For those knowledgeable on bird flight, how far do you estimate something like this could go in one day?

I'm going to take a look at some flying dinos but I'm not sure there were any flying dinos big enough.
Um, if you were to provide parameters that you've established, and limits that you want to push, you might get some answers that are more than "whatever you want them to do".

djf881
07-22-2010, 01:00 AM
Dragons fly at the speed of imagination.

Drachen Jager
07-22-2010, 02:13 AM
Hey don't hammer him too badly. I'm all for injecting realism into fantasy. If they don't fly through the power of magic it follows that they have to obey the same physical and biological laws as birds so it's reasonable to wonder about the flight distances of birds to try to figure out what a dragon could do. I think it's admirable, I hate fantasy where the author just does whatever he feels like because, "it's magic", or, "it's a dragon". All invented worlds need rules, fantasy doubly so.

The current generation of fantasy books seems to be swinging in a more realistic direction so it makes sense for him to try to base his dragons in reality rather than just inventing them whole cloth.

thothguard51
07-22-2010, 02:53 AM
In my fantasy world, Dragons only fly as far as they need to fly.

Well how far is that?

I have given my dragons limited natural magical abilities, one of which is the ability to teleport. Why expend all that energy flying a thousand miles if one can teleport quicker and use less energy.

Now, to keep the dragons from just popping in and out all over the place, they have to know the location they are teleporting. They have to picture the season, the sun or star locations, and time of day or night and any geological features. If they have never been there before then they can not teleport there. But, if a human or other creature can give them the images with all the important markers, they can still teleport, but its a little trickier and they really need to trust the person giving them the features. After all, the person could give them a wrong reference and they could end up inside a mountain or lava lake.

This also flows well with the laws of magic in my world, and the limits I place on magic so it is not the end all power in the world.

FOTSGreg
07-22-2010, 03:40 AM
Heh! I'll be the devil's advocate here today.

Let's say your dragons fly at a maximum of 150mph (pretty danged fast for a flying critter, but not inconceivable). Now, let's say a dragon needs to get somewhere real fast and will fly virtually non-stop for the next day, pausing only 4 total hours along the way to graze on the local villagers, etc.

150mphx10=1500 miles. Double that for a 20-hour flight and you have 3 thousand miles or the equivalent of a dragon flying across the United States in a single day.

Clear?

Paul
07-22-2010, 03:45 AM
Hi guys.

So, I have these casual horse sized dragons that are very useful in warfare.

.


So the question was about fantasy dragons, rather than real dragons? That would change everything.

ahem.


Edit: didn't see this sacrky bit. :D
[How much do they weigh? Something that size would have to eat amazing quanties of food to have enough energy to do much beside eat. You might tell readers that one of the best reasons for being slender is that dragons prefer fat people, because they have more calories.]


No Guessing, huh?

NoGuessing
07-22-2010, 04:07 AM
Hey don't hammer him too badly. I'm all for injecting realism into fantasy. If they don't fly through the power of magic it follows that they have to obey the same physical and biological laws as birds so it's reasonable to wonder about the flight distances of birds to try to figure out what a dragon could do. I think it's admirable, I hate fantasy where the author just does whatever he feels like because, "it's magic", or, "it's a dragon". All invented worlds need rules, fantasy doubly so.

The current generation of fantasy books seems to be swinging in a more realistic direction so it makes sense for him to try to base his dragons in reality rather than just inventing them whole cloth.

Yeah, this. I need some physiological limitations and a bit of realism.

My world is relatively small when compared with other famous worlds (a cluster of city states closeish together. Basically think Athens, Sparta, Thebes etc) so the dragons can absolutely gun the accelerators because they're not going very far, but flight times are still important.

They don't need overkill food, so that will mean something to do with their metabolism, which effects energy levels. They're also warm blooded technically, though blood is produced cold to regulate temperature and is heated by the heat of the flamethrower type organ.

There is magic in these guys because they were engineered way back by magic. The magic is what heats the fire and cools the blood (creating a balance) but has nothing to do with flight.

So how would blood temp. and metabolism effect energy levels?

Oh and thanks to the poster who gave me the link. :)

So (to the poster who mentioned rider weight) you think horse sized dragons would struggle with a rider? I would have thought that would be perfect size, but I'll take your word for it. :)


ahem.

No Guessing, huh?

Lol.

jennontheisland
07-22-2010, 08:00 PM
Yeah, this. I need some physiological limitations and a bit of realism.

My world is relatively small when compared with other famous worlds (a cluster of city states closeish together. Basically think Athens, Sparta, Thebes etc) so the dragons can absolutely gun the accelerators because they're not going very far, but flight times are still important.

They don't need overkill food, so that will mean something to do with their metabolism, which effects energy levels. They're also warm blooded technically, though blood is produced cold to regulate temperature and is heated by the heat of the flamethrower type organ.

There is magic in these guys because they were engineered way back by magic. The magic is what heats the fire and cools the blood (creating a balance) but has nothing to do with flight.

So how would blood temp. and metabolism effect energy levels?

Oh and thanks to the poster who gave me the link. :)

So (to the poster who mentioned rider weight) you think horse sized dragons would struggle with a rider? I would have thought that would be perfect size, but I'll take your word for it. :)

Metabolism and high body temperature require energy. This results in needing a regular intake of low calorie food (like a grazer, check out how much and how often elephants eat) or larger portions of high calorie foods eaten less often. What your dragon eats will affect how often and how much it will need to eat and rest time after eating.

You seem to want yours to be sprinters (fast over short distances). Look at cheetahs. Check out their metabolism and eating habits. Extrapolate that to your dragons.

DavidZahir
07-22-2010, 09:22 PM
I'm still wondering how these critter fly? Especially carrying something the weight of a human being! That is impressive!

If you don't want to explain such via magic, here are a few possibilities that come to my mind:

1. These dragons somehow contain quantities of hydrogen inside their bodies. Animal Planet did this great faux documentary along those lines.
2. These dragons have a specialized form of tele-kenesis allowing them to apply extra thrust from their minds.
3. These dragons generate tiny amounts of anti-gravity somehow.
4. These dragons are the recipient of a latent psychic ability in the human population who believe dragons can fly and so so carrying man--so they can.

jennontheisland
07-22-2010, 09:28 PM
I'm still wondering how these critter fly? Especially carrying something the weight of a human being! That is impressive!
Not really. A large horse weighs nearly a metric tonne and is conditioned to the work it's been bred to do.

http://www.horsedata.co.uk/weight_table.htm

Adding another 75 kilos to that is like you putting on a backpack and heading out the door to work or school.

mgoblue101415
07-22-2010, 09:42 PM
They're dragons--they can move as far as the story needs them to move because they're FANTASTIC CREATURES.

Lock thread.


I think Lennon would argue with you. :tongue Well, at least argue the point of them being fantastic creatures. ;)


I believe in everything until it is disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it's in your mind. Who's to say that dreams and nightmares aren't as real as the here and now?

DavidZahir
07-22-2010, 09:46 PM
Not really. A large horse weighs nearly a metric tonne and is conditioned to the work it's been bred to do.

http://www.horsedata.co.uk/weight_table.htm

Adding another 75 kilos to that is like you putting on a backpack and heading out the door to work or school.
I wasn't balking at a critter carrying a human being, but at a creature that weighs a metric ton AND flies, and then still can fly with the weight of an adult human being added on top!

Drachen Jager
07-22-2010, 11:36 PM
Well being horse sized does not mean it has horse WEIGHT, especially in a flying animal.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quetzalcoatlus

Even with a wingspan of 15 metres the highest weight (through extrapolation) might have been as much as 250 Kg, lower estimates (which are considered more accurate) say half that much.

Maybe it could carry a person's weight, but not for hours and hours. Bald eagles carry about that weight ratio in fish but often they struggle and there have been cases where an eagle had to swim to shore with it's catch because it couldn't fly. That should give a pretty good indication of their maximum carrying capacity.

jennontheisland
07-22-2010, 11:38 PM
I wasn't balking at a critter carrying a human being, but at a creature that weighs a metric ton AND flies, and then still can fly with the weight of an adult human being added on top!
um, yeah, big letters, impressive.

Know what would be even more impressive? The amount of breast meat you'd get off of something that size.

DeleyanLee
07-22-2010, 11:50 PM
Know what would be even more impressive? The amount of breast meat you'd get off of something that size.

:ROFL: That is, of course, assuming that it's a 4 limbed flying beastie. If it has more limbs, then I don't think it would be breast meat.

Though if they're actually flying and using those muscles, the meat would be dark. Chicken breast meat is white because domesticated chickens don't fly.

Collectonian
07-22-2010, 11:54 PM
Why couldn't such a creature fly with a human? Look at Pterosaurs, the largest of which could certainly have carried prey the size of most humans without much effort at all. I'd think that they likely ate far larger prey.

For the OP, if you want to aim for realistic seeming numbers, I'd look into research on various Pterosaurs. Could also do rough estimate based on what the largest raptors can do. Most can fly 30-40mph when flapping, 50-80 mph while doing a descending glide, and over 100 mph in a dive. Gliding conserves a lot of energy, and bald eagles (for example, have been known to travel 180-270 miles per day. If you presume a dragon's capabilities are the similar, then I'd probably go 100-200 miles per day depending on the weight.

Might also find it useful to watch Dragons: A Fantasy Made Real (http://animal.discovery.com/convergence/dragons/index.html), if you can find a copy. Though Animal Planet was blasted for it (since it seemed too like an actual documentary), it does apparently take into account the most common elements of dragons and extrapolates basics of diets, sizes, how they breathed fire, etc with at least some scientific basis.

BlueWolf
07-22-2010, 11:58 PM
I concur with DeleyanLee: these are creatures of your imagination born from someone else's, so these things could be limited to a couple of hundred or some could potentially fly forever.

DeleyanLee
07-23-2010, 12:05 AM
Anne McCaffrey's dragons could fly to other planets by going between. *shrug* Seriously--do whatever is cool and awesome. If the reader's already buying into dragons, they'll buy into whatever you tell them dragons can do.

mgoblue101415
07-23-2010, 12:53 AM
I actually find it hilarious (seriously, literally LOL) at the debate over whether a dragon that weighs the same as a horse could carry a human.


A good laugh is always good.

StephanieFox
07-23-2010, 01:35 AM
Why do they have to be horse sized? Perhaps Mongol pony sized dragons with big wing spreads would work better. Not all soldiers are Viking sized, either, and even if they were, since the dragon is flying, no one's feet would be touching the ground, anyway.

Maybe the smaller dragons could travel in the belly of a 747 or a troop transport. Then they'd be able to travel a long way, pretty quickly.

How much do these things eat? Can they come and eat the rabbits who are destroying my veggie garden?

FOTSGreg
07-23-2010, 02:55 AM
Research Kleiber's Law. It's been shown to be as accurate as you need to be in scaling metabolisms.

Basically, metabolic rates scale at a factor of 2/3rds of the scale for the size/volume. So, if you take a bird, say a condor, and scale it up by a factor of 10 to get your dragons, the condor's metabolic rate does not increase by a factor of 10, but rather at a factor of 7.5

Now, that's still one ravenous bird, but not one that requires eating it's own weight in protein every few hours.

In addition, larger animals tend to be more sedate animals. They either eat all the time like elephants, etc., or they eat large meals at intermittent intervals and digest in between.

StephanieFox
07-23-2010, 03:45 AM
Than his dragon can eat the neighbor's rabbits, too.

NoGuessing
07-23-2010, 03:59 AM
Thanks guys. :)

Hmm, the first of these dudes were engineered so I can play around with their chemistry. They do reproduce naturally though, so unless living creatures can be ionic compounds then I should keep the metals out of an organism.

Getting hydrogen in there would be good. I'll seal it off with flows (magic) to prevent it damaging the guts.

As for size, well that can vary. In my head they are horse sized and are two legged, like a bird (not the four legged variety). The rider doesn't go armoured to save the animal some stress.

I think I will increase the size, probably to "how to train your dragon" proportions (so it would walk on four legs). They can be the manned fliers.

I'm having far too much fun designing this dragon. :D

kuwisdelu
07-23-2010, 04:10 AM
324.6 miles with a human.

548.4 without.

264.3 with afterburners.

60.1 if they're flying supersonic.

RobinGBrown
07-23-2010, 09:39 AM
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HandWave

RobinGBrown
07-23-2010, 09:40 AM
As for size, well that can vary. In my head they are horse sized and are two legged, like a bird (not the four legged variety). The rider doesn't go armoured to save the animal some stress.

Technically, a two legged flying lizard crerature is a Wyvern, not a Dragon

NoGuessing
07-23-2010, 10:12 AM
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HandWave

What does that have to do with anything?

Are you implying I'm using dragons as "scotch tape" to cover up an "idiot plot"?

Rufus Coppertop
07-23-2010, 01:34 PM
Do they carry bombs or have very fat, human pilots?

If they fly a long way and don't have something to eat, does that diminish their fire?

NoGuessing
07-23-2010, 02:12 PM
Do they carry bombs or have very fat, human pilots?

If they fly a long way and don't have something to eat, does that diminish their fire?

No bombs or fat pilots.

Hmm, well I guess fire takes energy to produce so if they have less energy then the fire would decrease.

Torgo
07-23-2010, 03:52 PM
No bombs or fat pilots.

Hmm, well I guess fire takes energy to produce so if they have less energy then the fire would decrease.

Ah, so unladen dragons: but are these African or European unladen dragons?

NoGuessing
07-23-2010, 05:45 PM
Ah, so unladen dragons: but are these African or European unladen dragons?

Well they have riders, but skinny riders.

European dragons probably. I'd need to read up on African dragons.

DavidZahir
07-23-2010, 06:58 PM
The thing about flying predators--what they eat (and therefore carry) is small relative to themselves. An owl swoops down and carries away a mouse, not a house cat. Pelicans grab small fish, not big ones. Bats grab insects or fish (those that don't eat fruit) or in the case of one species latch onto a much larger creature and draw out blood. And so on.

So--are your dragons carnivores, herbavores or omnivores? If the first, what they hunt determines how they go about doing so. For example, they might devour all kinds of smaller flying creatures in the air--or snatch lots of critters in high trees. Then again, perhaps they make a diving attack at some large herd beast (like bison) and eat their fill of the most energy-rich part of that animal before taking off again. Perhaps they hunt in packs/swarms?

When you look at a pterosaur, you are not looking at a horse-sized organism that carried a man-sized one. I'm not saying it cannot be done, but it is a challenge. The Animal Planet show mentioned above assumed a second set of lung-like organs that in fact are gas bags filled with hydrogen (generated from digestion). One trick might be that the planet in question has slightly lower gravity than our own. Still another might be some odd combination of physical features--aluminum-laced bones coupled with an unusually powerful muscle design maybe (and yeah, that is to some extent hand-waving). For some reason this planet might have really powerful winds which dragons use to glide--their "launching" being a specialized form of cheetah-esque speed coupled with an equally impressive "leap". That way actual flying doesn't require as much strength and/or energy.

Methinks as long as you come up with a model that sounds like it makes enough sense, it should work. I personally don't think Anne McCaffrey's dragons pass muster when you really start thinking about it, but on the other hand I was interested enough in her world and the characters that the thought hardly crossed my mind until much later.

For whatever its worth, the film Dragonslayer has a magnificent dragon--but is pretty much explained by magic.

Tsu Dho Nimh
07-23-2010, 07:52 PM
They are your dragons!

Make them fly as far as your plot needs ... maybe with some complications like they need to be fed regularly or as in the Pern novels, need to get coordinates from the rider for teleporting.


ADDING:
As far as lifting ability for prey, it varies with air speed - in some eagle research, eagles were able to snatch larger prey from the ground in a swooping snatch than they were able to lift if they landed and tried to take off with it.

In one of the videos, a golden eagle snatched a medium-size kid at the top of a cliff and although it couldn't gain altitude, it was able to do a steep angle glide to a semi-controlled landing in the canyon. It tried flapping, realized it was not going to fly out of there, and flared its wings into full braking/gliding position. There was no camera at the bottom, but an observer reported the eagle landed pretty hard, still hanging onto the kid (goat kid, not baby!).

kdbeaar
07-23-2010, 07:55 PM
This is too funny for mere words...

:popcorn:

Canotila
07-24-2010, 07:44 AM
In one of the videos, a golden eagle snatched a medium-size kid at the top of a cliff and although it couldn't gain altitude, it was able to do a steep angle glide to a semi-controlled landing in the canyon. It tried flapping, realized it was not going to fly out of there, and flared its wings into full braking/gliding position. There was no camera at the bottom, but an observer reported the eagle landed pretty hard, still hanging onto the kid (goat kid, not baby!).

It's pretty fascinating. After watching it I'd say the kid definitely outweighs the eagle by a bit.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xz_LI5TLTY

We live on an inlet, and every day I walk to the beach. There are dozens of migratory bald eagles, along with a nesting pair of osprey and a pair of resident bald eagles. It's very common to get to see them fish. The osprey like to eat their fish on a deadfall about 20 feet from where I sit on the beach.

It's extremely common for them to pick up very large fish. Some of the sea run trout they've caught out there had to be at least half the weight of the birds. Consider that birds are very light for their size and fish are very dense for their size.

I do think it's plausible for a flying animal to carry a passenger. We don't usually see them flying very long with their food because they're taking it somewhere quiet to eat. But, if they had some good reason to hit a thermal and glide with it, I think they could. And once they hit a thermal it doesn't take very much energy to move places.

Once I watched the osprey catch a very large fish. He was intercepted by a bald eagle on his way back to the deadfall. He held on to that fish and flew around with it for about ten minutes before the eagle ripped the fish in half and flew away.

On that note, if your world has any coastal fisheries fish would probably be an affordable, high calorie diet for your tame dragons.