Crashdrakes. These dragons are, for just about any intent or purpose, a cassowary, or in other words they are big, flightless, highly aggressive and yet herbivorous death birds. Seeing that dragons in Dracoriri are simply one world's equivalent of birds, AKA evolved dinosaurs, this should be perfectly feasible and even likely. There's just one problem: they live in pine forests.

Cassowaries live in jungle, that's tropical forest, not temperate or subtropical forest. This means that there won't be as much sun, warmth, or moisture and therefore that there will be less variety for Crashdrake to eat, ie. that their main food will be pine cones or nuts. Nutritious? Yeah, sure, but I'm not sure how well a cassowary could adapt to eating pine cones, strawberries, maybe pine needles and gooseberries, and Crashdrakes are for all intents and purposes cassowary.

So, in essence the trouble is:

  1. Crashdrakes will be competing with the animals who already live in pine forests and eat the plants there; and the forests in America-where these pines will be-have very little fruit but a lot of nuts

  2. Crashdrakes will have to live in a colder, drier climate and more rugged terrain than normal cassowaries are used to

So, is it possible for Crashdrake to live in pine forests, or am I going to have to move them elsewhere on Dracoriri, namely to the much warmer South?

And if you want to say 'but these are dragons that resemble cassowaries, not actual cassowaries, that's fair, but Crashdrake originate from tropical environments and eat fruit just like cassowary, the only real difference for the purposes of this question is that Crashdrake are more reptilian, with a more developed skull (think pachycephalosaur), long tails, some mild color-shifting ability (think anole) and have tough scales instead of fleshy pink underneath their feathers.

  • $\begingroup$ Aren't cassowary opportunistically omnivorous? $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Mar 8, 2022 at 22:18
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I don't know about cassowaries, but ostriches absolutely thrive all over Europe, up to the Polar Circle; but anyway, there are pine species native to equatorial (Pinus merkusii) and tropical (Pinus kesiya) areas. And aren't cassowaries known to eat acorns and palm seeds? Some pine species make seeds large enough to be harvested and eaten by humans, and we even cultivate them for their seeds. I don't see what's the big difference between eating acorns and eating pine nuts, provided the "pine forest" in question is a forest of Pinus pinea, Pinus cembra, or Pinus koraiensis. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Mar 8, 2022 at 22:54
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings: Apparently so, though I must admit I was not aware of this fact. I was aware that cassowary prefer fruit, and that deer will scavenge carrion. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Mar 8, 2022 at 23:55
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP: for my sake, the setting will be based more or less on North and South America, so I don't have to just make up a setting and can just alter and populate already existing areas for the story. In other words, these would be American pines, not sure if that changes anything.... $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Mar 8, 2022 at 23:57
  • $\begingroup$ Pinus is a northern hemisphere genus. Only one species lives south of the Equator (Pinus merkusii), and that only barely south of the Equator (at 1° latitude south). There is no such thing as a South American pine forest. On the other hand, the Caribbean pine Pinus caribaea lives in Central America and Cuba, so it is definitely tropical. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Mar 9, 2022 at 0:15

2 Answers 2


I don’t think there is a problem here

These animals from Dracoriri are not now and have never been cassowaries, and the former shares exactly two features with the latter: morphology and ancestral habitat. End of list.

In creating this problem there is no measure of time through which the crashdrake is allowed to adapt to the pine forest. As such, we shall assume the migration from tropical forest to pine forest has occurred over some number in the millions of years. The adaptation process on those timelines should be sufficient that the creature will not be in any shock over a change in climate or diet; the pine forest has exerted pressure on adaptation through the millennia which slowly have been selecting favored genetic variations. Simply put; as the ancestral dragon traveled North, it’s offspring either found it suitable and moved on, or not suitable and stayed in the tropics. In short, your crashdrake ancestors underwent a very typical process of allopatric speciation, leaving one variety comfortably eating foods available in the pine forest, and another which may have perished, if this story has all the facts.

I have to note how peculiar it is to evolve both scales and feathers on the same dermis. feathers are scales, after all. All this peculiarity does is open up the possibility for novel modes of adaptation this organism has found, and thus makes the migration even less of a challenge.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "How peculiar it is to evolve both scales and feathers on the same dermis": Most birds have both scales and feathers. (And so did maniraptoran dinosaurs in general.) Have you ever seen the feet of a chicken? Here is a close-up of the feet of a raptor. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Mar 9, 2022 at 1:17
  • $\begingroup$ I did and I know. $\endgroup$
    – Vogon Poet
    Mar 9, 2022 at 2:52
  • $\begingroup$ But what do they eat? $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Mar 9, 2022 at 11:07
  • $\begingroup$ foods available in the pine forest, as I said. Anything beyond that would be an opinion and not an answer. $\endgroup$
    – Vogon Poet
    Mar 9, 2022 at 13:36

This may be a little hand wavy, but suppose there was a plant that would have gone extinct if not for the Crashdrake coming into these pine forests?

What makes me think of this is the Osage Orange, a tree whose fruit is heavy, thick skinned, pulpy and generally inedible - mostly because it evolved alongside the Giant Sloth and other ice age megafauna. It no longer has any animals that eat its fruits and spread its seeds around, and has mostly survived due to its long lifespan and spread due to humans, who value the tree for its wood.

I don't think an Osage Orange specifically would work, since I don't think they grow in the same environments as pine forests, but a Crashdrake and/or cassowary could probably adapt to eat something thick and hardy. So, the idea of them occupying a similar niche after giant sloths and glyptodonts and so on go extinct makes some sense. A little research into ice age herbivores might help you find something, or (if you are willing to handwave) invent something that feels plausible.


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