The definition of a dragon depends on who you're asking. We are so used to the fire-breathing, bat-winged, avaricious antagonists of Europe and the long, lank wise men of Asia that we don't often consider the dragons of the Americas. On the top of the popularity list is the feathered serpent of Mexico, the category in which you'd find the Wise Bringer of the Wind, Quetzalcoatl.

In this post, the feathered serpent is a hundred-foot-long python or anaconda with the thorax of a swan (the heaviest flying bird) and the wings of an eagle. That leaves us some problems, as follow:

  • How does it position its wings during slithering?
  • With no hind limbs, how would it take off for flight? (Let's disregard cliffs and other highlands and see how it'd do that in lowland rainforests, the sort of habitat central Mexico, the location of the Aztecs, is.)
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Whats wrong with folding its wings while slithering, and what's wrong with climbing a tree and dropping off a branch in order to start flying? Alternatively, depending on how high up the wings are on the body, why couldn't it coil itself like a snake, and stick its "head" section up straight and flap its wings in a hummingbird fashion? $\endgroup$
    – Aify
    Jun 19, 2016 at 4:48

2 Answers 2


It may slither while standing like a naja, just like a naga (which is different from a naja) would.

As for flying, search for videos of flying snakes. Yes, those exist. The difference being that Queatzalcoatl would be able to sustain flight for much longer and could even go up. Might need a really large tree to start flying, though.

Alternatively, some birds don't need to jump nor run to start flying, and even if Quetz (I just have to give him a nickname) needs to build speed, there are snakes that can be fast and that can jump.

Making Quetz fly becomes more believable if you drop the 100ft figure and allow him to be small. Maybe his size was exagerated by natives or colonizers?

The smaller Quetz gets, the more easily he'll fly. But then again, a swarm of 1" flying , humming snakes may be scarier than a single huge one... Serious now, maybe they only fly during infancy, to escape predators. Once they get big enough, they don't need wings to fly anymore. So maybe they keep those for sexual selection (it's important for mating displays) or to stabilize themselves.


The most common depictions of the feathered serpent are of a snake (rattlesnake, usually) with a feathered crest around its head. While feathers are sometimes shown covering more of the body than only a crest, wings are generally not included.

Similar to most (wingless) oriental depictions of dragons, any flight ability would a supernatural ability.

  • $\begingroup$ I could be wrong here. But seeing as this doesn't really answer the question, wouldn't it be more appropriate as a comment? $\endgroup$ Jun 20, 2016 at 8:02

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