I've been thinking about this the whole day. At first I thought it was an easy fix, given my dragon's bones have a tensile strength of 3-6.5 GPa and an elastic modulus of 50-140 GPa, depending on the reinforcing fiber's orientation. For limpets, this fiber is goethite, for my dragons, I take the risk of using carbon nanotubes.

The problem here is that the extra layer, I put on top of the original pectoralis major, has to be the same length as the original (that is the requirement of circumventing the square-cube law), and needs a suitable attachment area and good leverage. Plus, it seems that the extra layer would be in the way of the downstroke.

Bird flight muscles

Bat flight muscles

Of course, dragon bones don't have to look like anything you'd expect find in nature. The creation myth and thus, creationism, is an integral part of this world. Though even the gods have to obey the laws of physics.

Before you say, I know it'd be easier to just increase the length of the ribcage and redesign the humerus to provide more attachment area, but I hate limiting myself.

How should the bones be redesigned to allow adding flight muscles to them (with some exaggeration) ad infinitum?

Some useful info:
https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0013982 https://markwitton-com.blogspot.com/2017/01/new-paper-when-short-necked-giant.html

Note: It's kinda bad that most of these pictures don't show where the muscle ends and the tendon begins.

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    $\begingroup$ I love this kind of question. By the way, have you considered how this problem was solved for pterodactyls and pteranodons? $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2020 at 21:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Renan I couldn't find anything on that. If you did, feel free to share. $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2020 at 21:23
  • $\begingroup$ Quetzalcoatlus was the largest flying reptile ever, with estimates of its weight ranging from 70 to 250kg for adult speciments. If your dragons have up to such weights, maybe you can draw some inspiration from this real world reptile's skeleton. $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2020 at 21:37
  • $\begingroup$ @Renan I think I gave my dragons a weight of around 500 kg $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2020 at 21:40
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    $\begingroup$ Note: layering the flight muscles like that is just how some birds do it, bats and pterosaurs just bulk up the back muscles, that frees up a lot of space on chest. People always forget there are other flying vertebrates besides birds. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Mar 14, 2020 at 4:36

3 Answers 3


Why not stronger musclesinstead? Also, do they have to be made of Bone?


The article above is a good example of how you can make it lighter. Being a dragon we're speaking of and with you willing to use carbon nanotubes in it, I assume maybe changing the composition of the bones would be a great way to make it lighter while being just as strong, if not stronger. Stronger bones are a natural must have to have more powerful muscles attached to them.

Also, speaking of muscles,instead of adding more muscle, why not change the muscle composition to make it stronger? That would allow for more power without the need of changing the skeleton, as you don't wish to. Also, curiously enough, according to Wikipedia, carbon nanotube artificial muscles with paraffin are 200 times stronger than our own:


So my main advice would be: instead of looking for more or bigger,look for better.


Animal muscles are pretty wimpy in strength when compared to their mass amongst biological actuators/motors......

Check out this material. It’s called a Spasmoneme. The Ciliate Vorticella uses it to contract in response to stimuli. And it’s apparently more powerful than a V8 car engine, gram by gram. 30x time more powerful than the strongest animal muscles for the same volume. And a lot more efficient as it is driven solely by Ca2+ instead of Ca2+ and ATP together. It’s a muscle fiber with the response time of a neuron of similar size, and is directly adoptable to muscle cells as their responses to neural stimuli are the same.


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    $\begingroup$ "Although the shortening can be up to 100 lengths per second, faster than any muscle, the relaxation time is several seconds (compared to approximately one tenth of a second for muscle). " $\endgroup$ Mar 20, 2020 at 7:34

As long as we're willing to start using advanced carbon materials, you could have monofilament tendons that extend through the body, possibly even along a joint-like pulley system. This would allow you to leverage muscle anywhere in the body to apply force. Almost any muscle could be rigged to apply force to the wings during the difficult take-off process. For very brief bursts of activity, the dragon would be incredibly strong but very limited in endurance (think hysterical strength).The bones might benefit from the ability to lock in place so the dragon doesn't have to expend any energy in flight and can operate completely as a glider once aloft.


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