I am creating a dragon that can fly and live in the sea as well as on land but want it to have the following attributes without it being unrealistic:

  • scales that are stronger than today's strongest steels and which glow like burning embers
  • the ability to breathe fire that can burn underwater
  • eyes that glow like setting suns
  • strength sufficient to treat steel like straw
  • the ability and willingness to have a rider

closed as unclear what you're asking by L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Oct 31 '18 at 6:06

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    $\begingroup$ Hello and Welcome to Worldbuilding Moonstar. I'm not sure what the question here is. If you want to design a dragon, go ahead and do it. You do not need our permission to create what you want. If you want us to design it for you, you have come to the wrong site. We are a question and answer site. Not an I have an idea, make it for me site. You are talking about an imaginary creature with magical abilities and you don't want it to be unrealistic. Please narrow down the problem, or show us what you have done/designed and then maybe we can help address any problems. $\endgroup$ – Shadowzee Oct 31 '18 at 0:06
  • $\begingroup$ Hi Moonstar, and welcome to Worldbuilding! It sounds like you have a pretty cool idea and know what you want - I’m going to echo Shadowzee and tell you to go for it! Is there a specific problem you’re having while making this creature that we’d be able to help you with? $\endgroup$ – Dubukay Oct 31 '18 at 0:26
  • $\begingroup$ You can edit your question to add more information. Welcome to the site! $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Nov 1 '18 at 2:43

Engineer says No

What you're asking for is a mess of contradictory design constraints. Let's start with flying/swimming first.

There's a reason dolphins don't fly and (say) eagles don't swim. (1) Water is a much higher pressure environment, especially at depth. The flight capabilities of an eagle are achieved through increased lift and decreased weight. Eagles (and other birds) have lightweight bones that are hollow to decrease the amount of weight they have to get airborne. Their wings are large so that they can maximise the amount of lift they get on the air currents.

Those same wings (and especially the feathers) would create increased drag in the water that would make it problematic for swimming. Their large pectorals are great for flapping wings in the air, but simply can't compete with the hind muscles that power flukes and tails in the water on cetaceans and fish respectively.

Dolphins also need increased strength to swim and that is achieved through muscle mass, and generally strong bones that reinforce the structure of the animal at depth. This means that a dolphin the same size as an eagle would be denser and heavier, because they're bodies are tuned for different environments.

Now let's deal with scale strength. Ideally, you might be able to use some natural form of kevlar or carbon composite for the scales; this would give you strength without massive increases in weight, but there is a price. Both materials can be brittle, and kevlar in particular carries almost no resistance to heat, melting or cracking very easily. This means that your fire breathing dragon stands a very strong risk of harming himself with his breath, especially if it's powered by a high phosphorous content (allowing underwater fire). This would however give a credible reason why the scales would glow burning amber - the poor thing has actually set itself on fire.

Finally, riding. You're on a creature that is already heavy to support itself under water, but has traded off part of that weight for lightweight, combustible scales of natural kevlar, that breathes a phosphorous fire. IF it can fly, it would have to have massive wings, not only to support itself but to support you, which creates drag impediments under water.

In short, this animal is a danger to itself before anyone else, and if it CAN fly, it can only just do so. Want me to saddle up?

All I can say is you first.

(1) Yes, I know that dolphins can jump out of the water and eagles can dive for fish, but they don't spend extended periods in each others'domain for reasons set out above.


without it being unrealistic

  • Flight and swimming: no. See Tim's answer.

  • Scales that are stronger than today's strongest steels: no.

  • Fire that can burn underwater: your dragon breathes acetylene and oxygen. Your hand will fall off from waving so hard.

  • Eye's that glow like setting suns/scales that glow like burning amber's: that's just a little bioluminescence coupled to fishermen's tales.

  • Eyes strong enough to treat steel like straw: no.

  • For some one to be able to ride it: if you can sit on it, someone will try. Even if it is a ticket to the Darwin Awards. Also butts were made for sitting. If the beast is just too wide you can always tape a saddle tonit, or tie it around.

All in all your beast is most likely a bioluminescent, firebreathing white shark or giant squid.

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    $\begingroup$ Once your hand falls off, you can probably attach it to one of those rotating fans and let it wave your hand for you. $\endgroup$ – Shadowzee Oct 31 '18 at 4:10

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