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Of the six limbs of classic dragons, the forelegs always stuck out like a sore thumb. They're dead weight in flight, etc... However, since in my setting you can find any sort of armament, short of a mini-nuke, they can't rely on primarily gliding flight in combat and are forced into ambush tactics on the ground.

That requires strong enough limbs, that are also well protected. Horses use every trick available for power magnification and energy recovery, but also have vulnerable legs.

Since dragons have just as much common with them as with dinosaurs, azhdarchid pterosaurs, and boring flamethrowers, I guess we could make those legs more sturdy looking with a new tissue I came up with: padding.

Padding still has some unanswered question, but it consists of alternating layers of closed-cell and open-cell foam made of a high tensile-strength, high-stiffness material. Its density is pretty low.

Where and how should this padding be placed to avoid hindering the front leg's range of motion?

Note:

Here are the previous questions, for context:

Could a living creature produce graphene?
Dragon forelimb placement
Rowing dragon, could it work?
Would these structural reinforcements improve dragon wings?

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  • $\begingroup$ Am I correct that you're trying to protect the dragon's limbs during combat while maximizing range of motion? $\endgroup$ – JBH Apr 22 at 19:10
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH So the point got across, gud. $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles Apr 22 at 19:19
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    $\begingroup$ @Demigan I look into it tomorrow. $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles Apr 22 at 22:03
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    $\begingroup$ Downvote retracted, close vote retracted - great edit, clear and much more answerable. Forelimb mobility and features can be taken from the referenced question's answers. +1 $\endgroup$ – Chickens are not cows Apr 23 at 13:58
  • $\begingroup$ People often think that mammoth tusks couldn't stab and so were useless as weapons. But those tusks would have been deadly clubs. If your dragons have tails at least as large and heavy as mammoth tusks they would make great clubs to beat their enemies. The dragons' teeth and claws, and their fire breath if they had it, would also make great weapons. $\endgroup$ – M. A. Golding Apr 24 at 16:31
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Frame challenge: You say that the forelimbs limbs are "just dead weight", but I disagree.

Unless you make the wings and corresponding muscles excessively large, your dragons cannot take off from a standing start: Like larger birds (swans, petrals, et cetera), they will need to either jump off something, or pick up sufficient horizontal speed first.

In the former case, the forelimbs will assist with climbing. In the latter case, being even larger than birds, the dragons at unlikely to manage both the speed and the balance with merely bipedal locomotion. As such, they will need to run on all fours to pick up the necessary speed. (A wyvern, with the bat-like wing/arm hybrids will mostly be limited to the "jump off something" method of taking flight - just like a bat is.)

The rear limbs may be stronger, for a powerful leap to push them airborne, but the forelimbs are highly unlikely to be weak and straggly.

(Also, they allow your dragon to swoop down, snatch up prey with the rear legs like an eagle does, and then tear pieces off with the forelimbs and pass them into its mouth to eat mid-flight)

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  • $\begingroup$ At this size, ~490-500 kg (~250kg if the rowing boat solution doesn't work) They've just enough power to climb out to an altitude from which they could safely switch to thermal soaring. Swooping down is a big nono. $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles Apr 23 at 8:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Mephistopheles Your comments on size and "rowing boat solution" confused me, until I checked your profile history. You may want to include some more of that information, or summaries of and links to your related questions, in the question. $\endgroup$ – Chronocidal Apr 23 at 9:00
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, you asked for it :) $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles Apr 23 at 10:25
  • $\begingroup$ Also, thanks for justifying the existence of forelegs, but that still doesn't answer the question. $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles Apr 24 at 11:28

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