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Anatomy of the Pernese Dragon by bronze-dragonrider Anatomy of the Pernese Dragon by bronze-dragonrider
By George, I think I've done it! After 6 years of constantly reworking my idea of the anatomy of Pernese dragons, I have FINALLY settled on something I am 100% satisfied with.

If it weren't for their massive body size and relatively small wings, I think this could biologically function as a flying animal. But then, that's why they have telekinesis ;)

If you're wondering what the lines are across the wings, those are the batten ribs. They add strength and stability to the wing membrane.

Dissecting a rotisserie chicken REALLY helped me understand the anatomy of a bird's flight system, and I incorporated much of that into this. I also used a lot of reference from the Atlas of Animal Anatomy, especially of the Lion for the dragon's forelimb, as well as the Atlas of Pern for reference of the batten ribs of the wing.

Copyright of Anne McCaffrey for Pern and its dragons.

DO NOT use this in any way, shape or form without my direct permission. I've come across some people who have stolen my artwork, and I do not tolerate art theft AT ALL. So if you want to copy this, or use on another site, PLEASE ASK first. However, feel free to use this as reference material.
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:iconkick-flare:
Kick-flare Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
reckon you can label each muscle? XD
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:iconz3nyatta:
Z3nyatta Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2012
I'd love to use this as reference material for a tattoo design. It makes it SO much easier for tattoo artists to create a design from a line drawing, especially one so detailed! Great job!
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:iconbronze-dragonrider:
bronze-dragonrider Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2012   General Artist
Sure thing! I'd love to see what you come up with, and the finished result! :D
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:iconbronze-dragonrider:
bronze-dragonrider Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2011   General Artist
No, they're completely carnivorous. It's odd, their face shape is always described as somewhat equine, but that kind of jaw structure isn't very optimal for a carnivore. They have unusual teeth though, sharp at the front shearing in the middle, and grinding molars in the back.
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:iconkatepfeilschiefter:
KatePfeilschiefter Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
Huh, weird. Well they'd certainly be good at chewing.
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:iconkatepfeilschiefter:
KatePfeilschiefter Featured By Owner May 29, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
Are Pernese Dragons herbivorous? I've never read the books, so I'm curious, the head appears highly similar in structure and function to that of a horse.
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:iconsherlockianhamps:
SherlockianHamps Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
ObloquyCondemed here, I'm finally getting around to that picture of our dragon-types in the same image XD I hope it turns out okay.
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:iconobloquycondemed:
ObloquyCondemed Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2010
Very good work!
I can see nothing I disagree with what so ever, the only thing that bothers me, and I feel this is a space-on-paper problem, is the hind leg seems too folded, or folded awkwardly, if weight was put onto it it would shake and want to fold up totally, but do suspect that it was at the edge of the paper, yes?
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:iconbronze-dragonrider:
bronze-dragonrider Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2010   General Artist
Thank you very much!

No, the posing was intentional, but for obscure reasons for those unfamiliar with the world of Pern.

They are described as having an awkward gait on the ground, because of their short forelimbs and large hind limbs. When they "walk" they're described as having a hop-skip gait, like an unfortunate cross between a rabbit and a kangaroo. So they're supposed to look a little out of place on the ground, their true grace being aerial.

I do understand and sympathize with your complaint though - I always found that quality difficult to portray and an annoyance to adhere to, since I would prefer a more elegant dragon. I should probably try to design my own for once and make my own rules :p
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:iconxryu2304:
xryu2304 Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2010
OMG that's nice. I love it!
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:iconzutararaven:
ZutaraRaven Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2009  Student General Artist
OOh wow! :heart: Brilliant work!

He looks.... appetizing... :drool:
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:iconbronze-dragonrider:
bronze-dragonrider Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2009   General Artist
:rofl: No eating the dragons! :p
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:iconzutararaven:
ZutaraRaven Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2009  Student General Artist
Buahahaha....
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:iconnikopol00:
nikopol00 Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2009
[link] < chek this if you would like some animal anatomy resources . and 10 X for the dragon keep up the good work
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:iconbronze-dragonrider:
bronze-dragonrider Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2009   General Artist
Oh, that is spectacular! Thank you very much! :)
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:iconlimeiio:
LimeIio Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2008   Traditional Artist
This is so great! Now i can see just what the Dragons are,though i still have my own picture in my head. But you're hard work and research has paid off for a great work of art.
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:iconbronze-dragonrider:
bronze-dragonrider Featured By Owner Nov 5, 2008   General Artist
Thank you very much :) Everyone has their own mental image of what Pern dragons should look like. Even mine has shifted dramatically several times since I started reading Pern. I just wish I knew what Anne's mental image is of what Pern dragons look like.
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:iconcarise:
Carise Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2008  Hobbyist Photographer
You did a very good job on this.

Could I have permission to use this in the weyrling training materials for PernWorld MUSH?

(Our wiki is at xanadu.wikidot.com)
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:iconbronze-dragonrider:
bronze-dragonrider Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2008   General Artist
Thanks! You may use it as long as credit is given and linked to my page :)
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:iconcarise:
Carise Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2008  Hobbyist Photographer
Done, and done :) [link]

Thank you again!
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:iconblackdragon733:
BlackDragon733 Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2008
Wow. A dragon that looks like a dragon.
I am honestly speechless. And love to see another Pern fan!
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:iconbronze-dragonrider:
bronze-dragonrider Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2008   General Artist
Thank you very much! :blush:
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:icondemonpuppy:
demonpuppy Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2008
Pretty cool. I did a picture for a Dragon Riders proposal about 5 years ago, very similar. I don't normally critique things to critically but you did ask for it and I have some insider knowledge. In my drawing I did give them larger hind legs than pictured here and was told by Anne McCaffrey they were not long enough. So if you're going for Anne's version then the back legs would need to be longer.

As for the wings, cool, but they are too far back, the animal's weight in front the wings would cause it to tilt downward.

Otherwise nice job:)
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:iconbronze-dragonrider:
bronze-dragonrider Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2008   General Artist
Thanks! :) And yeah, I've heard often that the hind legs are supposed to be much larger than the forelimbs, but without the proper feedback I never knew the proper balance of just HOW much longer than the front limbs, or just how much muscle to them, etc. I'd love to sit down with Anne and get direct feedback to see exactly what needs to be adjusted and how much.

As for the wings, this is the only way it works anatomically without getting in the way of the forelimb muscles. I had no idea how the aerodynamics worked, but with the muscles at least, it's not possible to push the wings any further forward and still have the forelimbs work properly. It would get in the way of the latissimus dorsai muscle, which is already downsized greatly from what it normally is in animals. The shoulder joint would have to function more as a hip than a mobile shoulder.

Even though there's more weight in front this way, would the larger-than normal (with birds) hind legs and tail help counter-balance it?
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:icondemonpuppy:
demonpuppy Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2008
Actually, if you pull the front legs down and make the chest deeper, you can piggy back the wings on top and slightly behind them. Since the wings were likely another set of arms at one point. It's sort of like the animals born with six legs or extra fingers, it's just a duplication that proved advantageous and later became a wing, but you'll notice in all living animals capable of flight the wings are high up an more forward on the torso.

Plus you have to consider that these are not real so their musculature will be different and they may be more tendon driven then muscle driven.:)

I think the wings set that far back will have some wind resistance problems with the torso. If the wings were really huge it might work, but other than that I don't see how they could be that agile in flight.:)
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:iconbronze-dragonrider:
bronze-dragonrider Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2008   General Artist
Piggy-backing the wings still won't work, because as I mentioned before, the musculature of the two sets of limbs would interfere, as well as the shoulder blades. Unless the front limbs are REALLY low, the shoulder blades would be knocking into or scraping against the "wishbone" clavicle for the wings. And having the wings in the traditional foremost position is out of the question, because then the forelimbs would be far, far too back, since the huge wing-pectoral muscles would be in the way, and they would be too front-heavy to balance while standing.

The reason all animals capable of flight have the wings so far forward is of course because it's best aerodynamically, but they do not have six limbs (insects are different, though). In reality, it would be impossible for a six-limbed dragon-like creature to fly. But since we cannot do away with the Pernese dragons' front limbs, we have to make do with what's there. There will have to be a compromise somewhere - either suspending disbelief with the anatomical problems, or suspending disbelief in their aerodynamic problems. I am more willing to compromise the latter, since regardless of the wing orientation, it would be impossible for the dragon to fly to begin with, so we're already suspending disbelief. And since they fly with the aid of telekinesis, this would help them overcome any flight problems with their wings farther back.

They *are* an alien species, so their musculature obviously wouldn't necessarily be identical to terran anatomy, but on earth, nearly all vertebrate creatures have fundamentally the same sets of muscles. You can see the huge similarities between a human and even a seal, because you need the same basic muscles to move properly.

So while Pern's dragons ARE alien, they still have a body that is very similar to terran species, barring the extra set of limbs. They still have a head and neck and ribcage and arms/legs with elbows and knees and a tail, all in a bodily orientation that is extremely familiar. So they would still need a very similar muscular structure for that skeleton to move the same way. If they had a body that LOOKED alien, that was completely different in overall structure, then their muscles would be extremely different. But since their form is similar to terran species, then there's no reason why the muscles can't be similar as well, actually, they'd have to be.

On a side note, tendons are merely the narrow ends of muscle that connect to the bone. All tendons are part of a larger muscle, so they could not be more tendon driven than muscle, since they are part of the same thing :)
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:icondemonpuppy:
demonpuppy Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2008
Actually, no. If you look at a bird skeleton, you can see there is plenty of room for a theropod style arm directly underneath the wing and slightly forward. Since it is not a weight-bearing limb, it would not need the wide dog/cat style scapula you have on your skeletal drawing (the dragons arms are much smaller in relation to their rear legs and when they are on the ground they 'sit' upright most of the time, moving by 'walking' with the forelimbs and doing an ungainly hop with the hind limbs, which still support most of the body weight.) The narrow scapula would extend back underneath the wing and not interfere at all with the clavicle. The shoulder would 'float' over the rib cage and the large breast muscles needed to power flight, with it own attachments for breast muscles on the clavicle and breastbone.

Your dragon would not be able to sit upright with the wings folded over the back as described in the books. The wings would have to extend to the sides some, if they folded over the back the dragon would have to lean forward to keep from over-balancing backwards since the wings are in the middle of the back instead of over the arms.

Your skeletal drawing looks like you have based the arms on a cat or dog. Dragons have a much greater range of motion in the wrist and elbow than a dog or cat, I would use a human arm as a base instead.

Also the body is too long. The two main criticisms we received from Ms. McCaffrey on Brett's sketches were that the body was too long, it should be very short so that it is easy for the dragon to sit upright, and the hind legs should very long and massive. These are not terrestrial animals, they are VERY clumsy on the ground. Your drawing was obviously designed with quadruped walking in mind and the dragons really don't do that.

Jess
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:iconbronze-dragonrider:
bronze-dragonrider Featured By Owner Aug 4, 2008   General Artist
Hmm, I think I would need a sketch to visualize what you are describing. If you could whip up a simple sketch to show to what extent I should chance certain proportions, I'd appreciate it :D

The skeleton may appear like there's room for an arm, but I've dissected a chicken to understand their anatomy, and all that area is covered in the pectoral muscle. There's no room for any sort of arm unless you add more ribcage to the front. And if the scapula is overtop of the flight muscles, it would have very little strength at all with no connections with bone. The front limbs are obviously not powerful, but that way it would barely be able to support its own weight while standing.

Making the arms/shoulders more humanlike isn't practical with a quadrupedal animal. The human ribcage is shallow and relatively flat-backed, so the scapula can rest flatly along the back, giving the shoulders a great range of motion. Pern dragons have deep rib-cages, so a human-like shoulder is not possible with wings already at the top. The scapula would have to be to the sides, which does not work like a human shoulder. Also, human-like wrists are not meant for walking. Pernese dragons aren't made for walking either, but they are definitely quadrupedal and wouldn't have wrists like that, unless they're walking on knuckles like an ape, which isn't the case. I'm not sure where it is stated that they have as much mobility as human arms/hands, though...

As for the length of the body, I was not aware of those opinions of Anne. All I had to go from was the reference in Dragonsdawn that a dragon was proportionately longer in the body than a horse.

If the hind legs really are THAT massive (I thought the ones in my drawing were quite large as it is) then that would be an even larger problem for flight than the wings further back, as it would severely throw off its balance in flight. (Telekinesis could correct this of course, I just don't understand the criticism of the wings further back when such massive haunches would be vastly more problematic).

Don't get me wrong though, I encourage constructive criticism, and it's very interesting discussing this :)
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:icondemonpuppy:
demonpuppy Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2008
The wishbone in birds IS attached to the shoulder blades, at least in Dinosaurs and chickens (In fact it rests on top of the clavicles in most theropod dinosaurs.) Ms. McCaffrey agreed with my designs so that's good enough for me.
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:iconbronze-dragonrider:
bronze-dragonrider Featured By Owner Aug 4, 2008   General Artist
Yes I know, I'm not sure how you interpreted that I thought they didn't :confused:

I'd be very interested to see those designs :excited:
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:icondemonpuppy:
demonpuppy Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2008
I have one on my blog: [link]

It's the fourth one down, it's the only one I have that's not on a disk.
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:iconbronze-dragonrider:
bronze-dragonrider Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2008   General Artist
Oooh, impressive! I love your style. I'm guessing that one is Ruth, since he's carrying an egg? I would love to see others if you manage to get them off of disks :D

I did a sketch the other day trying what you suggested with the floating shoulder, and I didn't realize that it *could* have attachments for bone, it would be a 4-way joint at the front of the keel for all of the collar bones. However, I did run into problems for the muscles. I don't see how the muscular attachments would work for the arm, since the latissimus dorsi would be going over the wing's pectoral and its own set of latissimus muscles, making it awkward for it to attach to the spine.

The only other way to work it would be for the shoulder to be more like a hip joint, since hips don't have muscles stretching out in all directions like a shoulder does, but even then, there's no room for a hip bone to fuse onto the spine, not to mention that hips don't have nearly the amount of mobility that a shoulder does.
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:iconnefretkheperi:
Nefretkheperi Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2008  Professional Writer
Impressive!
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:iconacvioleteye:
ACVioleteye Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2008   Writer
Looks pretty much perfect. :) Congrats!
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:iconwolfpriestess:
WolfPriestess Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2008  Hobbyist Writer
Good as always...I didn't see it that good on your skeleton drawing, but I always thought the first two wing-fingers connected at some point. Gives a bit more strength to the leading edge of the wing, right?
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:iconbronze-dragonrider:
bronze-dragonrider Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2008   General Artist
Yeah, I flubbed on the skeleton drawing, I was going more by bat wings, which don't have the first two wing-fingers fused and forgot about that. But in this drawing I fixed it and they are connected, if you look closely.
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:iconwolfpriestess:
WolfPriestess Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2008  Hobbyist Writer
Yeah, I figured they'd need some reinforcement to the leading edge, so I just assumed that the first wing-fingers would be joined. Besides, without them joined, that'd just be more wingsail to get scored by Thread! ><"
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:iconalois-noette:
Alois-Noette Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2008
Possibly the best muscle structure of a dragon pic I've seen

But what is with those horizontal bone things on the wing? They make sense on the outer half, but on the lower half, they look like horizontal stripes...
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:iconbronze-dragonrider:
bronze-dragonrider Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2008   General Artist
They're not bone, but something like cartilage. Even bats have them. On the lower half they are horizontal because they connect from the leading edge across the arm to the trailing edge. They fanned out between the other wing-fingers because they did not have any membrane on the other side of the wrist, so they all connect at the joints to the hand. I couldn't find any good references for how they look on bats, so I'm not sure how they're supposed to look in life, so I just went by how they looked in the Atlas of Pern.

Even Michael Whelan puts them on his dragons, most notably on the covers of Moreta and The White Dragon. Although the pattern for his is a bit different.
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:iconjohnfaa:
JohnFaa Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2009  Student Writer
So sorta like the pterosaurian actinofibrils?
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:iconbronze-dragonrider:
bronze-dragonrider Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2009   General Artist
Hmmm... I'm not sure, I've never heard of that before :confused:
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:iconjohnfaa:
JohnFaa Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2009  Student Writer
Basically fibers that strenghned the wings of pterosaurs:

[link]
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:iconalois-noette:
Alois-Noette Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2008
Good to know :) Thanks
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:iconalois-noette:
Alois-Noette Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2008
(I read the description...but still, why horizontal? the rest sort of fan out, anyway...)
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:iconwewoka:
WeWoKa Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2008  Hobbyist Photographer
Oh boy!! You did an awesome job!

Perseverance paid off, eh?

:kiss:
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