Dragons are fantastic creatures of our imaginations, so they do not follow many of the rigid laws of natural science. They breathe unlimited amounts of fire, can endure extreme heat and they can fly despite their massive size. But perhaps the most unrealistic feature of dragons is the fact that they have an unnatural number of limbs.
All vertebrate animals on Earth follow a simple rule: they are four-legged creatures, also called tetrapods. The limbs may have devolved away such as in whales and snakes, but they remain as vestigial structures or still encoded for in the genes. Birds and bats have adapted their upper limbs into wings to fly, but the total number of limbs is still four.
How many limbs does a dragon have? They have four legs that they stand on, but also two large membranous wings like a bat. This means that they have a total of six limbs. The only other animals that share this trait are insects and other mythical creatures such as the centaur and pegasus.
To be a vertebrate with six limbs, a dragon must have evolved from an ancestor separate to Tetrapodomorpha, an ancient fish-like creature with four limbs that is the common ancestor to all four-legged beasts. Alternatively, the wings may not be true “limbs” and be similar to flying lizards that evolved to have a rib jut out with a membrane attached to act as a glider.
Dracula is a fantasy/horror novel written by Bram Stoker in 1897. It is written as a series of letters, diary entries and other log entries, telling the battle between the vampire Count Dracula and Professor Van Helsing (with the help of some other people). It is one of the most well-known horror fictions in history and defined the modern image of vampires. Although it seems unlikely, the blood-sucking, immortal, creepy vampire that is Count Dracula is (loosely) based on an actual person.
Vlad III Dracula of Wallachia was a Romanian prince who led his army to fight against the invading Ottoman Empire during the 15th century, which was expanding its reach throughout Europe at the time. He was also referred to as Vlad the Impaler due to his incredibly cruel punishment of prisoners and enemies. He would kill the victims by stabbing their bodies with spears, typically through the anus up to the mouth. He would then have the bodies hanging as a warning to others. The victims would die a slow and painful death as they were drained of blood.
Another interesting fact is that Vlad III was an expert in guerilla warfare and would frequently hide his army in trees and strike the enemy at nighttime. This earned him a legend that he was bat-like – hanging from trees and only attacking at night to drain people of their blood. It is likely that Stoker took this legend and incorporated it into his novel, making Count Dracula able to transform into a large bat.
It is fascinating to see how someone who is portrayed as a noble hero in Romania and Slavic countries is remembered as an archetypal monster in modern times. This serves to remind us that no matter what good deed we may do, the world will only focus on a certain aspect and define you by that characteristic. The world is stubborn, critical and narrow-minded. Ergo, it is a waste of time trying to convince the world that you are a certain kind of person. As long as you know what kind of person you truly are and accept it, you will be able to live a happy life.
The most famous characteristics of a bat is its behaviour of hanging upside down. This strange behaviour actually greatly benefits a bat’s survival. Because a bat’s wing is structurally different to a bird’s, it cannot generate enough flight to lift a bat off the ground directly. Therefore, bats leap off a high location to fly, so hanging from a high place allows them to fly off at any given moment. Also, living in a high place provides protection from predators.
A bat’s anatomy has heavily adapted to accommodate this behaviour. Thanks to its unique anatomical structure, a bat expends no energy while hanging. This is because they have talons that are designed to clench naturally when pulled by gravity, as the tendons tense. Thus, when hanging upside down, a bat can rest peacefully, and can even sleep in that posture as it requires no muscle action (all muscles relax in REM sleep).
As it is the norm to live upside down, a bat does everything in that manner. As stated above, a bat sleeps upside down, eats upside down, mate upside down, and even stay like that after death. There is only one time a bat stands upright: when it excretes waste. Even behaviour cannot overcome the power of gravity.