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Anatomica Draconis by KatePfeilschiefter Anatomica Draconis by KatePfeilschiefter
Anatomy of the Western Dragon 2.0 (for a BIO class) My pride and joy.
This time heavily inspired by Todd Lockwood's DND Dragon Anatomy Painting

I'll probably work on this more in the future, but for now I'm done with it.
This design is based around the idea that a dragon is not a reptile, rather it belongs to a unique scientific class of hexapodal homeothermic creatures, perhaps possessing dolphin/elephant level intelligence in the higher species.

(Download for a larger view)

Some of this may be quoting John Conway's pterosaur research: The Pulmonary SASS (Subcutaneous air sac system) are a complex system of air sacs located beneath the skin that act as bellows for the lungs as well as to pneumatisize bones -filling them with air, meaning the bones can be bigger without being heavier or weaker. To be specific, they have post-cranial skeletal and soft-tissue pneumaticity; meaning there are hexagonal (honeycomb structured) spaces and pneumatic foramina filled with air within the bone and some tissue. The pneumatisation in the wings perhaps being fueled by the SASS. The air sacs may have have played a structural role in holding wing shape and posture, as they do in some birds. This feature aids in the oxygenation of the muscles, and unidirectional flow of oxygen in the lungs. Their large lungs, coupled with their efficiency of exacting oxygen from the air serve to support their size and powerful flight muscles. The SASS would also allow the animal to control the mechanical properties of the wing, perhaps even allowing the inflation to be used in display as it does in some birds.
Also from pterosaurs- the top layer of the wing is the actinofibrils, which help give shape and support to the wing.

About necks ((Knut Schmidt-Nielsen's “How animals work”, page 49 (1972))-
Long necks developed in dragons as well as in some birds and pterosaurs to allow ease of breath. Most dragons had long to mid-length wings for efficient flight and powerful downward thrust, but low wing beat frequency. And as wing-beat frequency determines respiratory frequency, this calls for bigger longer breaths, so a longer trachea and therefore longer neck is required to breath deeply without hyperventilating in flight. This creates the right dead space to tidal volume proportion to create the correct mixture of dead space air and fresh air upon inhalation and co2 concentration. Smaller dragons with shorter wings, higher wing beat frequency and shorter breath do not require this, and so have shorter necks. Long necks also come in handy for creatures with stiff backs/Vertebrae, they develop a long neck in order to get a better look around. Flying creatures are always very stiff, as too much flexibility in flight creates drag and makes it harder to support weight. This is observable in birds, who all have long necks. Even the small song birds necks are secretly proportionally long, their length is just hidden beneath feathers. When it comes to the larger birds, like herons and vultures, the necks are even longer.

About Spines/Spikes: I see a lot of anatomical dragon sheets in which the spikes are made of bone, aka extremely long spinous processes. This could work for terrestrial creatures, but for flying animals its additional and unessential weight. The spikey bones have the potential to provide a very easy way for the animal to injure itself and more specifically its spine. Not to mention greatly reducing flexibility, (though this doesn't matter too much as a flying creature would be stiff backed to begin with). Spikes found on reptiles today are made of flesh and scale, a good example being the Thorny Devil. This lizard when calm can be very soft, but is able to make its spikes rigid and sharp when threatened. This is the kind of spike I'd imagine a dragon utilizing.

Tail muscles --
The most important muscle in the tail for dragons as well as dinosaurs and crocodiles is the Caudofemoralis. As this illustration shows only the surface musculature, the caudofemoralis which is a deep muscle doesn't show up much. But it's one of the largest muscles in the dragons body, as it affects the abduction of the hindlegs. The bigger the caudofemoralis, the faster the dragon/dino. Birds whose main source of locomotion is flying, and don't spend as much time moving on the ground as dragons do have short tails and small caudofemoralis.

Update: 3/9/12
Cleaned up some of the skeletal drawing and increased the length of the spinous processes, as well as the cervical vertebrae on which the forearm scapula rest.
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Mea-Mina Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2018
If you ever asked yourself how a hexapod works - here is the answer along with a scientific explanation.
Super-B done!
eclipse2014 Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2018  Student General Artist
This is great, especially because I personally love drawing dragons. So this will be great reference material for muscle anatomy! It also looks great on a technical level too!
GabrielDAndersen Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2017
totally awesome! 
Timespinner2 Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Sorry if i'm being a bother, but i'm really interested in learning anatomy but i have no clue where to start, and you seem pretty experienced so you seem like a good person to ask. Do you have any tips for learning the anatomy of humans and animals?? Or how did you first start off learning this stuff?
KatePfeilschiefter Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2017  Professional Digital Artist
Hey, no bother at all. I didn't start out with a concrete plan. The best advice is always to draw from life and from reference as much as possible, pick up some anatomy books and practice identifying and drawing muscles from both people and animals. 
Timespinner2 Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
thank you so much <3<3
PDG-art Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2017  Student Traditional Artist
Love it :)
Seraphin93 Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2017

I am doing a presentation about dragons in school. May I show this picture when i am describing how western dragons look like?

KatePfeilschiefter Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2017  Professional Digital Artist
Sure, as long as you credit my name in the sources portion that's fine by me.
Seraphin93 Featured By Owner Jan 13, 2017
Thx :D
hannahelizabethh Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2016  Student General Artist
Cool & awesome :D
VenomQuill Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
Oooh! That's so amazing! I've been thinking about the anatomy of not only dragons but of all creatures. You knwo, how and why they work, how and why they evolved or devolved, and how and why the move and act certain ways. I personally think that if we get a good enough understanding of the life on Earth and how everything arranged itself, then maybe we could start to understand how alien life works. Perhaps since we haven't seen any, how alien life MIGHT work. Or you could also find ways to create fictional beasts in such a realistic way that they could be-or perhaps were-living entities.

AGH! I wished I was in a biology class. <3 Too bad my major isn't geared for it. Haha
Lady-woods Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
THIS.IS.FREAKING.AWESOME!!!!! :la: :la: :la: :la: :la: 
The dragon lover and biologist in me are having a massive nerdgasm!!!!!!! :love: 
KatePfeilschiefter Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
That is the intended effect 
Chiletrek Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2016
 The quality of this pic can only be matched by university-level biology books. You did an amazing work :) .
RaptorArts Featured By Owner Oct 27, 2015  Professional Artisan Crafter
Wow this needs to be in a book! Beautiful work! 
Taerynax-the-Dragon Featured By Owner Oct 27, 2015
This looks Well thought out and simply amazing!
ArkansasDragon Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2015  Hobbyist
Hey, I was just wondering if I could use some of your beautifully crafted resources for a book I'm going to write on a site. I swear I will give you complete credit and my unending gratitude, so please?
KatePfeilschiefter Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
If you're just referencing them and link to the original material then sure!
FalloutFoxDraws Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Favorited. I can see a lot of thought was put into this. Very well done!
MantaAbyssus Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2014  Student General Artist
I think by far, your take on the dragon's skeletal and muscular systems is one of the most plausible. Also, it's a helpful reference for sculpting dragons too (currently working on one right now). :D
Primeraboo Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2014
You should read the novel "A Natural History of Dragons" that picture reminds me very much of it.
KatePfeilschiefter Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
I have! That's one of the oldest held books on my shelf. And thanks!
Achilles5574 Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
Oh my I LOVE your work. I've always wondered, how do you draw these things. By hand? On the computer? With which program? I am trying to do things like this too but it kinda fails :P
KatePfeilschiefter Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you! All of my digital painting (including this) is done in photoshop using a wacom tablet. Practice makes perfect, practice is all you need
Mistreena Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow, so cool! I'm favouriting this so I can reference it later for drawings and writings about dragons :D Thank you!
Goshiki-Ryuu Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2014  Hobbyist
it was a really big help HugThank you!
used it for this:
Dragon-Anatomy based on the Naomi Novik-Novels by Artifexia42
KatePfeilschiefter Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
You're welcome, and great work on that sheet!
Goshiki-Ryuu Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2014  Hobbyist
Thanks! Giggle 
AndornArakh Featured By Owner Apr 16, 2014
I love peculative biology, especially dragons!
Have you read the flight of dragons by wayne anderson? In it the wings evolved from the ribs and the dragon gained flight through hydrogen bladders in their body.
KatePfeilschiefter Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
I haven't read the books but I'm aware of the idea through the Flight of Dragons movie. It doesn't hold much merit unfortunately, as you could never get enough hydrogen into a creature like a dragon to offset it's weight, and ribs would be unable to flap, useful for only gliding. I do like the idea of hydrogen sacs, but they wouldn't work as the primary factor getting the creature into the air. Unless it was some kind of zeppelin shaped jellyfish-like animal.
Falken02 Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2014
this is fucking Amazing!!
selftaughtartist1 Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2014  Professional General Artist
awesome! i have been looking up anatomy references for dragons and this is by far the best i have seen! 

i sketched some of the parts for practice here: selftaughtartist1.deviantart.c… (i credited you of course) 
KatePfeilschiefter Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you, and thanks for crediting me. If you want real anatomical sources to study from though I'd recommend the creatures I looked at to create this, birds for instance and big cats. Their anatomy influenced the majority of this sheet.
selftaughtartist1 Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2014  Professional General Artist
i'll do that!  thanks of the advice  :) 
Speciesunkn0wn Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2013
frankly, i prefer the other one because it has them standing rather than in flight, showing how their necks connect to their heads when standing on all fours. :/ maybe combine the two drawings?
KatePfeilschiefter Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Their necks wouldn't connect any differently. Do you mean the posture of the neck?
Speciesunkn0wn Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2013
*shrugs* i guess. :/ it's just that one way it looks like it connects more like a bird looking up and the other more like a human.

Snufbat Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
This is great! 
TheTechnoDragon77 Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2013
Wow amazing 0_o!
SolarLugia Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Hooray~ That is an amazing biology project! It's so awesome!
RavingShark Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
This is epic and greatly detailed! Ive always wanted an explanation for the dragon having six limbs.
Zheridur Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2013
bona pictura
visne creare systematem nervosum respiratorium et cardiovascularem?
DreariestNeedlepoint Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
This is EXTREMELY helpful! I'll be eternally grateful that you made this!
Valkeus Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
You know your stuff and it really shows! This is one of the most believable dragon designs I've ever seen.
KatePfeilschiefter Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
s-mores Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2013
This is the best theory I've seen yet! (And I've seen many attempts.) I'm by no means an expert in any way, but I can usually find a few implausibilities in each one, but this looks flawless
TheFireGnome Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2012
This is amazing!
Ragnarok6664 Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Sweet :clap:
CryoftheBeast Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2012   Traditional Artist
I used this one a lot for my most recent pic. [link] And im trying different perspectives too.

I was wondering if i could get your input on it.
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Submitted on
December 4, 2011
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