# How to explain fire-breathing feathery dragon extreme mating behavior?

I'm going to borrow many ideas from birds to keep my dragon airborne, porous bones and feathers to keep it light while spewing balls of flame to create warm air currents at high altitudes. The problem is that during mating season the males will have to fly in a tight circle around each other at a very low altitude constantly burping fire hoping to attract the female. The fertile females quickly shed all the feathers and lie with their back against the ground and growl. Once a male has been enticed by a female it will swoop down and carry the female and perform one of the dangerous mating ritual the world has ever seen; copulation whilst handicapped in the sky. (I shall not describe the ritual in details but it's beyond even your wildest imagination! Just kidding...)

The females, by now completely bare, take a dip into a swamp infested with "giant hook worms" or badly mutated leeches with claws, the ideas is to glue the couple tightly while they engage in a heated exercises mid air. Bite wounds quickly heal and the secretion, which is actually a kind of mild neuro toxic, prevents blood clots and also works the heart muscles. The increased blood flow allows the laden dragon to stay in the air longer. However, there's a mystery that still puzzles researchers (especially me and probably Darwin too) The mystery is why did the dragons choose to perform sexual intercourse at heights? I mean come on with the extra weight and fire thingy evolution can get too excited in a deadly way. By the way I already named this mating ritual, it's called Red Summer Rain!

• porous bones - how large are these dragons? Porous bones may not be able to support them – Zxyrra Dec 21 '16 at 7:33
• giant hook worms I'm not sure this is the most realistic way to keep the pair together - the female could keep her feathers (there's no reason to lose them if you mate in the air) or the male could be strong enough to hold her – Zxyrra Dec 21 '16 at 7:35
• @Zxyrra: the dragon may appear intimidating with all the bright red and yellow feathers but actually they are very skinny, about the worm I would suggest you to leave them alone they bite... hard! – user6760 Dec 21 '16 at 7:40
• I need to bleach my brain after this question... – Xandar The Zenon Dec 21 '16 at 16:59
• Read The Pern Series by Anne McCaffrey. Her dragons mate in the air. – WRX Dec 21 '16 at 18:39

## Reasons to mate in the air (answering the question)

### 1) Safer than ever

Mating in the air reduces the vulnerability that ground-mating involves. Less predators can reach flying dragons, so they can get done what they need with as much time as they need, and with more accuracy.

After copulation, the dragons may dive violently, forcing semen / fluids to go into the right places. Compare this to humans, who experience frequent infertility because, predisposed conditions aside, it can be difficult for our fluids to reach the right places.

### 3) The ultimate in mating rituals

Hundreds of species in the animal kingdom use mating rituals, which can include elaborate dances, to choose partners. Bigger, better rituals prove to females that males are fit to reproduce, so it can be argued that grandiose dances are best for survival.

If the male dragons with complex, elaborate, grand dances survive to reproduce, and some genetic factor or learned behavior dictates what these dances will contain, then dances will evolve to be bigger and better over generations.

Eventually, they may utilize the dragons' ability to produce fire, which is visually stimulating and proves the ability to hunt and defend oneself, and flight, which proves fitness to survive, and is also more visually stimulating than ground-based dances because it allows free movement.

Soon (in the evolutionary sense), elaborate twists and coils, rapid spirals, and stunning patterns with jets of flame in between will dominate the breeding grounds, pressuring even more eccentric behaviors to develop.

## Other feedback

• Females don't need to lose their feathers. It means the males have to do more work, making them heavier... which requires stronger bones .. which makes them even heavier ... etc.
• Fire likely won't work to hold these dragons up. While you are right that warm air currents may be effective, (1) wormlike dragons will not have the appendages needed to ride these currents, and (2) they will spend more energy producing fire than they would by flapping wings otherwise. Consider instead traditional designs - or having "gliders" instead.
• "Badly mutated leeches" are hard to come by. If only one swamp provides the leeches necessary to copulate effectively, then either dragons must return to that swamp to breed (which is difficult and hard to work with, though possible) or they must evolve to not need them.

The system could have evolved in order to prevent any large rise in the dragon population. This much effort involved in mating means that dragons probably do not mate regularly this system could resolve to pacifically create such a situation, perhaps in response to lack of resources needed to maintain a large Dragon population.