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In medieval times, news of dragons attacking the outskirts of the villages is flooding in. The King is losing patience. According to witnesses, these dragons can lift cows and occasionally elephants off the ground. Further inspection on the animals's carcasses revealed that the dragons bite their victims using a recurve fang before delivering a neurotoxin into the bloodstream.

("Recurve" means that the tip is curved outward while the rest of the fang curves inwards, forming an 'S' shape.)

However, experts are unsure how these recurve fangs work, because some animals with much thicker hides or fluffy fur could easily prove slippery for the fangs, preventing them from hooking their prey. Most experts do agree that the dragon must first deliver the venom to prevent the prey from struggling in its mouth - and that its talons are only used for separating the herds or destroying obstacles.

Can modern day science help to solve the mystery of the recurve fangs?

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    $\begingroup$ Can you define a "recurve fang" in the body of the question, specifying exactly what kind of structures your dragons possess? $\endgroup$ – Zxyrra Feb 9 at 5:49
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    $\begingroup$ I salute the medieval researchers who discovered how recurve fangs work in dragons, and detecting dragon's use of neurotoxins (before we had the chemical knowledge to understand such things). Sorry what was the mystery modern science was trying to solve, again? $\endgroup$ – a4android Feb 9 at 8:53
  • $\begingroup$ so the fang look like hook ? $\endgroup$ – Li Jun Feb 9 at 10:13
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    $\begingroup$ The tips must be extremely sturdy, because jaw closing movement when biting will work to break off the recurved tips. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Feb 9 at 10:17
  • $\begingroup$ how recurved are we talking about, allosaurus, constrictor snake, or crab eating seal? because they each have very different answers. $\endgroup$ – John Feb 14 at 17:45
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Recurve fangs make little evolutionary sense.

  • They can't lift animals. I disagree with your assertion that prey is too "slippery" to hook; picture stabbing meat with a fork and lifting it. Given long enough fangs, anything can be "hooked" - but that doesn't mean the dragon's neck is strong enough to lift it! Talons would be better suited for carrying animals.
  • They prevent mouths from closing. A long recurve fang on the upper jaw would struggle to fit into the lower one without sticking out completely. It would also threaten to pierce the dragon's lips.
  • They don't bring food toward the mouth. Whereas predatory animals with tusks on their lower jaws could arguably use them to shovel prey into their mouths, recurve upper-fangs would place food on top of the mouth. Unless you want to equip your dragons with horribly distended lower jaws to catch falling food, fangs as tusks won't work.

But if you want to justify them:

  • They may inject venom better than normal fangs. If your fangs function as tusks, they can reach a much greater distance away from the dragon's head, allowing prey to be stunned more easily.
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I can't think of why they might be advantageous, but that doesn't mean your dragons can't have them. There are plenty of evolutionary artifacts that aren't advantageous that we can point to in successful creatures . For instance, humans have a genetic error where we don't create vitamin C, unlike all other primates, meaning we HAVE to have it from our food. Also, our relative lack of body hair means we're vulnerable to the cold and to mosquitoes and the related diseases they bear. That said, here we are. Recurve fangs are odd, but are not necessarily an impediment to a successful species.

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    $\begingroup$ 1. the loss of an enzyme is different than a persistent change in tooth shape, 2 it not just human most. primates can't manufacture vitamin C, and there is a slew of other animals that cannot as well. $\endgroup$ – John Feb 14 at 19:34

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