Are dragons wings too small/little?

I look at dragon art and I notice that the wings of dragon are pretty small for such a large creature.
Shouldn't the wings have more surface volume? I know it is all fantasy and such, but it just seems to defy the laws of physics.
It kind of reminds me of an Amnizu, although I don't know if they can actually fly.

Shouldn't the wings of dragons be larger, plus extend down into their tails for more muscle and attachment to the body for longer wings?
 

dave2008

Hero
I look at dragon art and I notice that the wings of dragon are pretty small for such a large creature.
Shouldn't the wings have more surface volume? I know it is all fantasy and such, but it just seems to defy the laws of physics.
It kind of reminds me of an Amnizu, although I don't know if they can actually fly.

Shouldn't the wings of dragons be larger, plus extend down into their tails for more muscle and attachment to the body for longer wings?
Yes and no. Dragon wings are to small to make them actual fliers; however, they can't realistic be big enough (and strong enough) to actually enable a creature that size to fly. The largest flying creatures of all time maybe weighed 500 lbs. An adult dragon is probably a least 10,000 lbs. Therefore an adult dragon (about 15 feet long + neck + tail) would need a wingspan of approximately 700 feet to have the same weight to wing surface area. That is all kinds of impossible and would just look bad.

Thankfully there is an easy solution.
 

LuisCarlos17f

Adventurer
And beholders shouldn't can float in the air, nor the floating islands from Pandora (James Cameron's avatar).

Really winged creatures as dragons, pegasus or gryphons can fly against natural laws because there are midichlorians within their cells who allow an anti-gravity effect like the carvorite minerals.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
The largest flying animals were pterosaurs. The largest ones we know of had a wingspan of a small plane and when on the ground were probably about as tall as a giraffe. The wings in proportion to their overall body length wasn't really all that large, but they were almost all wing and they had hollow bones. In addition, there's no way a flying creature could have forelimbs like a dragon - there's no place for the muscle to attach.

But dragons? Magic. After all we are talking about a creature that breaths fire. Oh, and just because I've always found pterosaurs fascinating I've included a couple of images

440px-Quetzscale1.png

image-20160630-30649-1eanay4.jpg
 

jasper

Rotten DM
And beholders shouldn't can float in the air, nor the floating islands from Pandora (James Cameron's avatar).

Really winged creatures as dragons, pegasus or gryphons can fly against natural laws because there are midichlorians within their cells who allow an anti-gravity effect like the carvorite minerals.
Here is quarter. That booth over there has excellence peep show. Said the robot to Luis.
 

dave2008

Hero
The largest flying animals were pterosaurs. The largest ones we know of had a wingspan of a small plane and when on the ground were probably about as tall as a giraffe. The wings in proportion to their overall body length wasn't really all that large, but they were almost all wing and they had hollow bones. In addition, there's no way a flying creature could have forelimbs like a dragon - there's no place for the muscle to attach.

But dragons? Magic. After all we are talking about a creature that breaths fire. Oh, and just because I've always found pterosaurs fascinating I've included a couple of images

View attachment 115446
View attachment 115447
Keep in mind that a giraffe weights about 1,800 lbs and Quetzalcoatlus weighed (we think) between 450-550 lbs. Flying dragons they were not! If the Quetzal wieghed as much as a giraffe it would need a lot larger wings!
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Keep in mind that a giraffe weights about 1,800 lbs and Quetzalcoatlus weighed (we think) between 450-550 lbs. Flying dragons they were not! If the Quetzal wieghed as much as a giraffe it would need a lot larger wings!
Who says dragons don't have hollow bones filled with hydrogen? Or internal air sacks filled with the stuff that they can breath out and ignite?

They still probably wouldn't have forelimbs because the muscle attachments wouldn't work. But there's no reason to believe they weigh as much as a giraffe.
 

dave2008

Hero
Who says dragons don't have hollow bones filled with hydrogen? Or internal air sacks filled with the stuff that they can breath out and ignite?

They still probably wouldn't have forelimbs because the muscle attachments wouldn't work. But there's no reason to believe they weigh as much as a giraffe.
There are lots of things you can do to make dragons "work," but most, if not all, of them would make them pretty ineffectual as "dragons" in the D&D and fantasy context. If you want your dragons to be blimps, then technically you could make them fly. The pterosaur, as I mentioned is about 1/3 the weight of the giraffe and about 1/3 the durability of the giraffe as well. The idea of a "real" dragon picking a fight with anything (and being able to fly) is fairly laughable. Similarly, the idea of a six-limb creature is impossible from our world, but such biology could spring up somewhere else. That is no more unlikely, than gas-filled bones and sacs for breathing fire and flight really.
 

Ralif Redhammer

Adventurer
That's more or less the route Peter Dickinson went with "The Flight of Dragons." He puts an awful lot of thought into the matter. It's fun reading and a nicely-illustrated book, though.

But to answer the original question, generally speaking, yes, dragons' wings are too small. But D&D world physics just can't be operating under the same laws. Or maybe they were at one point, but over time wizards have mucked around with them and who knows what's going on now.

If you want your dragons to be blimps, then technically you could make them fly.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
There are lots of things you can do to make dragons "work," but most, if not all, of them would make them pretty ineffectual as "dragons" in the D&D and fantasy context. If you want your dragons to be blimps, then technically you could make them fly. The pterosaur, as I mentioned is about 1/3 the weight of the giraffe and about 1/3 the durability of the giraffe as well. The idea of a "real" dragon picking a fight with anything (and being able to fly) is fairly laughable. Similarly, the idea of a six-limb creature is impossible from our world, but such biology could spring up somewhere else. That is no more unlikely, than gas-filled bones and sacs for breathing fire and flight really.
Bah. Don't discount the most powerful magic of all, "plot armor". Dragons are cool therefore they have tons o' plot armor.

As far as how durable, I have no clue. But most theropod dinosaurs had hollow bones. I'd still rather not meet a T-Rex in a dark alley*.

Ultimately the only way you can justify many monsters in D&D is "magic", but that doesn't mean it's not interesting to compare them to the closest real world analogies we have.

*How do you know you've pissed off a DM?
When you get ambushed by a T-Rex that was hiding behind a bush!
 

tetrasodium

Explorer
I look at dragon art and I notice that the wings of dragon are pretty small for such a large creature.
Shouldn't the wings have more surface volume? I know it is all fantasy and such, but it just seems to defy the laws of physics.
It kind of reminds me of an Amnizu, although I don't know if they can actually fly.

Shouldn't the wings of dragons be larger, plus extend down into their tails for more muscle and attachment to the body for longer wings?
and everyone knows a real star trek type transporter would dematerialize red then black rather than the federation/romulan/klingon gold/green/red.... it's a magic creature, wings soul look appropriate for the art style & any emotions being put across in the artwork :D
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Shouldn't the wings have more surface volume? I know it is all fantasy and such, but it just seems to defy the laws of physics.
Surface area.

If a dragon has bone material strength similar to real animals, and muscle power similar to real world aniimal muscle... that creature cannot fly at all. You need bone akin to carbon fiber, aluminum, or steel, and muscles akin to machines to get a body that large to fly - which is how you get 747s.

So, yes, they defy the laws of physics. Once you are defying the laws of physics, exactly how big the wings are does not really matter, they may be depicted at whatever size looks good to the artist.

The largest flying animal ever was probably Quetzalcoatlus northopi. It was as tall as a giraffe, had a wingspan of something like 40 feet, but weighed in at only about 550 lbs. This is probably as heavy as a flying animal can get, given normal animal physiology and our atmosphere.

Shouldn't the wings of dragons be larger, plus extend down into their tails for more muscle and attachment to the body for longer wings?
The major reason to have a skeleton is to gain mechanical advantage by applying muscle power to bones. As typically depicted, the driving force is applied to the bones at the leading edge of the wing, up at the shoulder. Assuming something like normal animal anatomy, there's no useful way for muscles at the tail to be applied to the flapping motion.
 

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