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Background:

I have typical dragons: Huge, scaly, winged, and fire-breathing. I also have dragon magic, but I'd prefer answers not to draw on this too much. In my world, a planet similar to earth, dragons live on a separate continent from humans, so sightings are rare, and even rarer are actual pieces of dragons, e.g. a scale, tooth, or vial of breath. Obviously, since when dragons are alive, they can use these things to protect themselves, humans think it easier to take parts from dragons who are already dead through natural means. Dragons, being fairly intelligent and more civilized than most animals, bury their dead in a huge underground cavern far below the crust.

The Problem:

Unfortunately, I have certain scruples against humans wandering around in the great tomb, hacking off bits of the most recently deceased dragons. In fact, I don't particularly care for the sort of human who would want dragon parts, and I want to make getting scales, teeth, etc., harder than that for them. In order to force humans to attack living dragons to get the parts but also make dead dragons still, well, really cool, I thought the dragon remains could turn into diamond, diamonds, or some sort of precious stone/jewel. I'd heard of the carbon from human ashes being turned into diamonds through high pressure and high temperatures, and I wondered if having the tomb be a *hundred miles under the surface of the earth, maybe even under a volcano, would raise the temperature and pressure enough to do something of the sort to the remains.

The Question:

Obviously, dragons don't have the means to separate the carbon from the other ashes, supposing there were any, so how might the dragon remains be **jewelified?

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This is subject to change.
Er, heh heh!

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  • $\begingroup$ " A very small amount of magic welcome..." please add the #magic tag to prompt such answers, the #science-based (AFAIK) forbids that or showing up in #magic searches. $\endgroup$ – kleer001 Jul 5 at 19:23
  • $\begingroup$ @kleer001 - Thanks for the suggestion. I didn't want to add the magic tag because I wanted mainly science-based answers, and I thought those tags contradicted each other. Sentence deleted! $\endgroup$ – NadiraSpzirglas Jul 7 at 3:49
  • $\begingroup$ I am wondering whether you are looking for a complicated answer for a simple problem. You don't want humans to get parts of dead dragons easily. Dead dragons are hidden in an underground cave. Add some dragons to guard the entrance to the cave and you are done. It does not even have to be "guarding the entrance" just have the entrance in the middle of the continent, so humans have to travel through miles and miles of dragon territory, always running the risk of being attacked. $\endgroup$ – Alex Jul 7 at 11:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Alex - Thanks for your interest in this question, Alex. The question posed was not so much on how to stop humans from getting parts of dead dragons, it was on turning dragon remains into jewels, which had the side effect of making them very valuable. $\endgroup$ – NadiraSpzirglas Jul 12 at 22:39
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"Standard" petrifaction like what can happen to wood of the bones, teeth, and probably scales is highly likely if your dragon is buried deeply. Depending on the particular processes that occur parts of the beast may be opalised.

It is also possible, depending on the make up of your dragons, that parts of them are already composed of jewel like materials, for example diamond has extremely high thermal conductivity so it may be useful for heat dissipation in a very large creature since the cubed-squared law is not kind at such extremes of size. Conversely certain members of the Serpentine family are extremely heat resistant making good fireproofing for areas like the snout.

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It's raining jewels.

Suppose that dragons shed. Scales grow for a time, then slough off when they get too large and heavy. This usually occurs when the dragons groom, but they also shed during flight. You don't have to go all the way to diamond: Quartz is quite hard, and gem quality quartz comes in a huge variety of colours. Because it's build up a molecular layer at a time there is room for all kinds of optical effects.

Just as skin is different thickness on different parts of a cow, so scales would be different sizes on different parts of the dragon. Imagine getting clonked by a teacup saucer scale a quarter inch thick made up of amethyst.

Take the process internally: skeletons made of sapphire (ruby) in intricate trusses.


Thought experiment: What if you ruled a relatively poor country. If someone from far away wanted to buy dead people, would you sell? A real way that criminals can pay back their debt to society.

Turn it around: Can you trade for dragon parts?

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Encase them in amber.

lizards in amber

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/pint-sized-lizards-trapped-amber-give-clues-life-100-million-years-ago-180958284/

Dying dragons lie down under specific trees that occur in their lands. With their dying energy they swipe at the bark. A cascade of amber dribbles down over them as the die, anaesthetizing them and entombing their remains. Eventually these enormous trees will grow to cover the dragons at their feet, reclaiming both their amber and the material resources of the dragon. Lucky adventurers might find portions of an amber-encased dragon protruding from the great tree and with effort pry something loose.

Note: these trees are not unprotected...

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Opals

Like fossilization, opalization can occur if in the right conditions.

Eric the Pliosaur is one such opalized skeleton discovered in Australia

enter image description here

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Perhaps it can be explained differently

When a dragon leaves it's nest, it does something unique among all animals. It goes deep into the earth, further down than any man has gone or ever will go, and digs it's dying place. The dragon keeps the location of it's dying place secret throughout it's life, but remembers where it is. And when a dragon feels that the end of it's life is coming, it crawls through the caverns it last saw in it's youth, and enters the dying place. The natural death of a dragon is something of a wonder. For when the dragon enters the dying place, it seals the entrance and waits for Death. When Death finally arrives and stretches out his skeletal hand, then the dragon opens it's mouth one last time and unleashes a fire more powerful, more hot, then it has ever released. The fire swirls around the dragon, the earth trembles and falls above it, and the heat and pressure turns the dragon into a diamond, to lie forever within the depths of the earth.

Something similar to this could be cool.

BTW, I wrote that explanation myself, so you don't have to worry about copyright or anything.

Edit:

Okey dokey, after a great many requests for an expansion in the science based aspect of this, here is the mechanism.

The dragon, when it is about to die, goes into an underground cave it dug earlier in it's life and closes the entrance. The dragon then breathes extremely hot fire, which causes the cavern to collapse, and brings millions of tons of earth down upon the dragon, causing it to turn into a diamond.

As you can see, this parallels my poetic explanation, I guess I just had to clarify. Thanks for the help!

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  • $\begingroup$ Hi, the poster is looking for a science-based answer stating how the remains can be turned into jewels. $\endgroup$ – Cyn says make Monica whole Jul 3 at 23:37
  • $\begingroup$ @ H Franklin, it is a creative suggestion for the OP story, but it doesn't make a clear and specific declarative statement answer the question. You can improve the answer by adding another paragraph outside your in-story narration and describe the specific mechanism you are proposing. Its suggested in the text of the narrative, just not clearly stated. $\endgroup$ – EDL Jul 4 at 0:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Cyn's right, this doesn't officially answer the question. But... dang. I love the result. Honestly, edit and add a note to the effect of, "and as the earth shifts, pressure placed on the dragon's remains creates diamonds" and I'd be content (maybe a paragraph rather than a sentence....). $\endgroup$ – JBH Jul 4 at 0:20
  • $\begingroup$ The language might be elevated and slightly poetic, but the kernel is clear: carbon based life form + heat + pressure ~> waste + carbon => diamonds with inclusions. Essentially no different than "ashes to diamonds" companies do with Fluffy's mortal remains. Or those of your spouse. $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Jul 4 at 0:34
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the help improving my answer! @EDL was right, I should have expanded more. $\endgroup$ – H Franklin Jul 5 at 13:37
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After death, deep in the earth with still air and warm temperatures, the "stuff" that lets dragons breathe fire contracts and distills inwards and glows hotter and hotter until the dragon itself is forged and tempered in its own flames along with the last gasps of remaining magic.

Ancient history and rationalization: Because dead dragons explode after a while, the early dragons took to burying them deep so that they didn't explode everything around them, too. This became a sign of reverence, the dead must be treated with care. The ancient tradition continues even to this day...

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I'm going to offer something of a frame challenge here - is the underground cavern really required?

(Because if it is then the answer is simple - living dragons guard the resting place of their dead).

Instead have the dragon funeral rites be a ritual internment in liquid lava. They are taken to an active volcano and there returned to the fires that birthed them.

No human has any chance of getting at those remains - not that much will remain.

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  • $\begingroup$ Actually, the question was on how the remains might be turned into a jewel, not how dragons protect their dead or what happens to the dead dragons. $\endgroup$ – NadiraSpzirglas Jul 7 at 3:46

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