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How exactly can I justify fire breathing animals? I mean, how would they do it in a scientifically and physically possible way?

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marked as duplicate by JDługosz, Vincent, bilbo_pingouin, zovits, Burki Jul 15 '15 at 7:13

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    $\begingroup$ worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/313/… includes how fire breathing dragons could work. $\endgroup$ – Niffler Mar 4 '15 at 10:15
  • $\begingroup$ Take some inspirations from fire breathing stunts. It's basically spraying fuel on a flame. Creating the fuel some chemistry, but nature is good at that; creating the initial flame would require some sort of flint which is harder to explain. Another challenge is the animal would require a somewhat fire-proof mouth; if you have a flammable saliva, this would be necessary. The hardest part would be explaining the evolutionary path that selects for the development of fire breathers. $\endgroup$ – Lie Ryan Mar 4 '15 at 15:42
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    $\begingroup$ This was done in the Anne McCaffrey Dragonriders of Pern series. They genetically manipulated indigenous lizards to grow massive larger and be able to breath flame using native rock sources. $\endgroup$ – JohnP Mar 4 '15 at 20:43
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Why not look at the bombardier beetle for inspiration?

Basically, two glands with chemicals which react when they are mixed. So the creature takes a deep breath, opens its mouth and blows while spraying the chemicals from the glands. The chemicals mix and ignite, meaning that you don't need to have a spark to get fire.

Snakes have glands that contain poison, and some snakes are able to spit. Mix in the biology of the bombardier beetle, and a creature that has glands that contain chemicals that react by igniting and can spit/spray the chemical mixture is biologically and scientifically possible.

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  • $\begingroup$ I was thinking along the same lines, but additionally had a thought about preventing ignition within the dragon's mouth. If the dragon also stores a gas that doesn't contain oxygen, it could release this gas into it's mouth before expelling the fluid, making an environment that lacks the necessary oxygen for combustion. That way, the fluid will ignite shortly after leaving the Dragon's mouth. $\endgroup$ – Bryon Mar 4 '15 at 20:51
  • $\begingroup$ @BryonDowd Something simple like CO2 would probably work, especially if you say that mixing together along with oxygen is vital to the reaction. But you can solve the problem a couple other ways. First, simply give the dragon really tough skin in it's mouth so that any fire from unexpelled chemicals doesn't cause damage. Second, give it saliva that is a neutralizing agent for the chemicals. As long as the chemicals leave it's mouth they will mix together with oxygen and combust, but any leftover chemicals are neutralized. Last place the glands so they mix toward the front of the mouth. $\endgroup$ – AndyD273 Mar 4 '15 at 21:28
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https://sciencedaydreams.wordpress.com/2011/08/29/hello-world/

Basically - yes. We know that there are bacteria and digestive processes that produce methane, a flammable gas, and a dragon with these bacteria inside of it could, in theory, produce high levels of methane. We know that there are organisms which have bladders to store things like venom, ink, and other defensive fluids. The only thing that would be needed would be a way to produce enough heat. I think that the model of an electric eel could work here - if the dragon were able to build up enough electric energy for a sizable spark inside of its mouth (maybe from one side to the other?), it could ignite the methane as it passed through and was expelled.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methanogen http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_organ

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  • $\begingroup$ One caveat - it would require some massive amounts of methane to do much, so it's likely that the fire-breathing animal would get one shot of fire before having to fully replenish its stores. $\endgroup$ – David Rice Mar 3 '15 at 23:26
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This idea was explored in-depth in a movie called Dragons: A Fantasy Made Real. They theorized that dragons might produce a flaming breath by utilizing the natural reaction of bacteria in the gut that produced hydrogen as a byproduct. The hydrogen would be funneled into a bladder that doubled as a flight assist. These dragons would eat from platinum or palladium veins. Since platinum and palladium both cause combustion when exposed to hydrogen, exhaling hydrogen from the bladder would produce a flaming breath for as long as the creature had hydrogen stores, provided it still had any mineral dust in its mouth.

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Look at bombardier beetles... they secret hot chemicals as a defense mechanism. this is close to fire breathing, i think.

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

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I think there would have to be a gland of some sort which you can make up that contains a combustible secretion. Further more I think that dragons would have to take a note from birds. Some birds swallow rocks to help them digest. In this case the rocks would be used to create a spark. I believe the gland that birds have is called a gizzard.

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