So, I want my dragon to be able to do stuff like open doors and whatnot. Using the wings is kind of awkward and takes up considerable space, and because of the coronavirus, the mouth is also a no-no; plus it wouldn't be able to do fine manipulation. So, I decided to go with the forelegs.

My Dragons are the classic hexapodal (six-limbed) creatures. The wings are placed behind the forelegs far enough to provide the required space for the full range of motion.

Normally use their forelegs for locomotion, holding onto things (like large prey), and not much else. Dragon legs just aren't really cut for combat, you know. Sure, they can still hurt you, especially when they "lean into" an attack, putting some of their body weight behind it.

Due to the thing about mass fraction (25% of the total body mass are the flight muscles) and because they're dead weight while flying, the forelimbs have to be light.

Given that, how would a foreleg and the forepaw have to work like to be able to do fine manipulation? Keep in mind, dragons are built for primarily quadrupedal locomotion, their wings (and thus, flight) are used only in combat, long-distance travel, and surveying (leisure flights count as surveying).

Note: Though I implied, dragons have paws; I never said they were digitigrade.

  • $\begingroup$ Short answer: with extreme difficulty, like using a screwdriver to drive a nail. $\endgroup$ Mar 22, 2020 at 22:51
  • $\begingroup$ Surely a virus that can't even pass from humans to dogs isn't going to upset a dragon any. Although biting the handles off doors when they mean to open them would probably get old. $\endgroup$
    – Cadence
    Mar 22, 2020 at 23:27
  • $\begingroup$ There are many animals which can use their hands (= the autopodia of their forelimbs) to manipulate objects. Raccoons, panda bears, hamsters, squirrels etc. I don't see why dragons would have any difficulty. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Mar 22, 2020 at 23:32
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "the mouth [...] wouldn't be able to do fine manipulation". Horses disagree. (So do Puppeteers, but they're probably sufficiently unlike your dragons to not really count.) That said, if they're plantigrade, then I don't see the problem. If they're digitigrade, that would be pretty much a duplicate of a question I asked that never got a satisfactory answer 😢. $\endgroup$
    – Matthew
    Mar 22, 2020 at 23:35

2 Answers 2


Possibly, a lot of people might view this question differently because everyone usually has a personalized view of how the average dragon should look, and so they might have different views on how the talons work. I believe they could hold things similar to the way we hold things, and even write the way we do! But I don't think that they have the structural capability to, for example, make a fist with their talons, and their claws would be very inconvenient for holding things such as paper.


But working with their limbs.

Do they have fingers then the can work on things like humans.

Do the have flexible paws, then consider lemurs.

Just a flat pad. How about they use levers to open those doors. Or even pressure plates. However you are going to have to explain how they built those things.

  • $\begingroup$ They could have asked/hired/enslaved a capable race to build it for them $\endgroup$ Mar 23, 2020 at 11:30

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