You know, dragons like myself are no strangers to falling. It's a natural part of flight and I used to do it a lot when I was a tiny and very adorable wyrmling.

The problem is it hurt, and sure it's gonna hurt now that I'm larger (though not heavier) than your average saddle horse.

My scales are like tenfold shields, but they do little against blunt trauma. So little, I still remember when one of those accursed humans bonked me in the head with a mace. It was painful!

I have to somehow make my deceleration longer when hitting the ground if I don't want my brain to be turned into pudding. Don't worry about my bones and tendons, they should be able to take it.

Let's see. I stand at 2-2.5 meters tall and my total body length is 10 meters. I have two slender forelegs, both plantigrade. I also have wings, both unusable right now because of reasons. Finally, there are the digitigrade back legs and laterally-compressed tail which is roughly half the total body length.

Almost forgot, the center of mass is my chest because of all the flight muscles that are attached to it!

Cats have a special reflex that makes them turn whenever they fall. I thought about doing something similar.

But in what position should I hit the ground to minimalize the chance of life-threatening and fatal injuries?

Note: Dragons are heavily pneumatized, to the point where the air sacs are connected to the dermis under the scaly hide. The tissue closely resembles an open-cell foam.

Okay fine, I'm stupid, but there is a pneumatized region between the muscles and the dermis. Here's the sauce.

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    $\begingroup$ I've done a very aggressive cut of all the fluff, the idea is to show you the discrepancy between the amount of info you put into your question(s) and the amount of other stuff you add that does mostly distract... If the ratios were switched then the fluff wouldn't distract and might achieve the effect you hope. $\endgroup$
    – dot_Sp0T
    Commented Mar 21, 2020 at 21:06
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    $\begingroup$ @dot_Sp0T I'd say you cut out too much. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 21, 2020 at 21:09
  • $\begingroup$ Feel free to roll back or modify it further. You still got everything in the history :) $\endgroup$
    – dot_Sp0T
    Commented Mar 21, 2020 at 21:10
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    $\begingroup$ connected to the fat reserve? That's like doing a liposuction and then pushing the fat back in place. The fat cells that hold the fat would be ripped apart and not very useful. Additionally you would have only the outer surface area where blood can flow to collect the fat products when necessary instead of the well-connected fat tissues. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Commented Mar 21, 2020 at 21:26
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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps you should edit your question so that it is clearly asking a question about the world you are building, rather than about the actions of individuals in it. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Mar 21, 2020 at 22:15

2 Answers 2


Parkour safety rolls and Hang glider landings

I’m going to assume this is for a fall that does not land on all four legs, assuming quad-pedal, as would be preferred for shorter falls.

Hang glider landings first

This is the most important step for large falls. We can equate a dragon to a hang gliding human. For very large drops, When dragons fall, they must first do their best to increase their drag as much as possible with their wings. In the case of disabled wings, you can still do similar things. They must use their wings to stall themselves in the air, to reduce the speed at which they hit the ground. Then, they can use their wings to maneuver themselves into a back leg feet-first position, and tuck in their wings to protect them. The feet-first position is done in hang-gliding after stalling with the wings, described here (although hang gliders with wheels will use the wheels and roll the humans in belly-first).

The back leg feet-first position guarantees that the dragon falls onto its back legs to cushion the fall first, before the butt. This guarantees the dragon does not crush its own organs due to its own weight.

If the fall is hard enough, the first to be crushed will be the back legs, followed by the pelvis. These bones being crushed should provide enough force to stop most falls from being fatal, and cushion the organs in the chest, but are still risky due to potential paralysis.

Parkour Safety Rolls

enter image description here

If the drop is enough that the back legs and pelvis are not enough to mitigate the impact, or disability is likely, I suggest a diagonal forwards roll (due to the length of the dragon, a forwards roll is very unlikely) following the landing, onto the back. The dragon will have to tuck in its head and wings, and this will employ the pneumatic-like reserves that you mentioned in the muscle, especially on the back, to safely cushion the blow. It is based on parkour safety rolls, which are used by humans to survive drops of up to two stories (6 meters).

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    $\begingroup$ Imagining a dragon parkour roll is both hilarious and awsome, hopefully it wouldn't damage their wings as they roll but still worth +1 for the visual. $\endgroup$
    – user69935
    Commented Mar 21, 2020 at 23:04
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    $\begingroup$ @RandySavage Yes, this would definitely be something you won't get to see every day XD. $\endgroup$
    – Enthu5ed
    Commented Mar 22, 2020 at 0:05

I'm not sure why you made a question out of this since you already reference cats. Although the reference is kind of iffy.

Cats have a lot more tendon than bone, which allows them to squeeze through and in tiny places but also to turn first one half of their body for a large degree and then let the rest follow in order to always land on their feet. Your dragons are too heavy for such a build and would have far more bone to support their own weight.

That said, the actual landing part will be similar to how a cat does it: For some reason this video ticks me off but it shows most of what I said

It stretches it's legs at the end of it's journey both to slow it's rotation but also to maximize the time it can decellerate. It also arches it's back to spread out the amount of time it takes to stop it's back and through that the amount of force the joints and paws have to take every second. The head is extended downwards in the air, then thrown upwards just as the paws hit the ground. This reduces the speed with which the head moves downwards compared to the rest of the body, then when the body stops moving downwards the remaining velocity of the head can safely be absorbed by letting it drop again.

Much nicer to look at example


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