This week, we'll be looking at theories for a request from Soulofthefoxy
: the Changewing! This dragon is probably my favorite Mystery Class dragon, so I had a lot of fun looking stuff up for it.
Interestingly, this is the only dragon I can think of where the social structure of their groups is basically confirmed. DreamWorks states they have a social structure like lion prides, which means we have group of females protected by a single male or a pair of males, with whom the females mate. We also know where the nest and how the pack protects their eggs. And we know what they eat, how they hunt, and where they live. So for this one, I'm mostly just looking at anatomy and geography. Still, I think I found some pretty interesting stuff. I got to delve into antennae, magic acid, and chromatophores! ...You'll see what those all are down below. Hope you enjoy!Theory 1: Changewing's blind spot is underneath the horns on its cheeks.
So the Changewing has these odd horns stick out of either side of its face, and the way their positions, I'm pretty sure they make some pretty obvious blind spots for the Changewing.
Theory 2: The Changewing's feelers help them feel out something's texture, and their leaf-like appendages can aid in camouflage.
So Changewings have these...I guess antenna is what most of the fandom calls them? Some call them tendrils? I like the term "feelers" because, even though it sounds less cool than the other two but "antenna" refers to arthropods and "tendrils" refers to plants, while "feelers" are a nice blanket term (though they do kind of look like tendrils, but I digress). But anyway...what are they for? The Changewing has a Venom stat of 0, so they can't be stingers or anything like that, so...what?
I do think they work a little bit like an arthropod's antennae in that they sense the world around them, and I think they'd be the most useful for feeling texture. Changewings not only change the color of their skin to match their surroundings but also their texture. Perhaps these feelers help them get a more accurate "feel" (ha) for the texture of whatever they're blending into.
But if that's the case, why do these feelers have leaf-like appendages on them? Perhaps, being a forest dragon, these make a Changewing seem more like its forest. Now they don't really need to have added camouflage like this when they can literally change their scales at will, but we get the impression from the show that they are generally in their default form and have to actively camouflage themselves. This means they sleep
in their default form. Therefore maybe it's beneficial to them to continuing having some camouflage even when they're not actively trying to do so. On top of that, these leaf-like sprouts on the antenna may simply help the Changewing appear to be more like the environment it's blending into.
Theory 3: Changewing acid is magic acid or something chemically similar.
Now I didn't actually come up with this theory but instead found it on the Wikia, and after researching it further, I think there's something to this theory. First, no, magic acid isn't literally "magic." "Magic acid" is the common the term for the chemical FSO3
. It is a type of "superacid" and is an extremely dangerous substance. As pointed out on the Wikia - and I did check on this and it appears to be accurate - magic acid is green in color, melts through just about anything you can think of, and produces a toxic black smoke, just like Changewing acid. Items it can melt/burn include glass, plastic, rock, metal, and living tissue. When first created, scientists were so amazed at its ability to completely dissolve a paraffin wax candle before their eyes that they thought it was a magic trick, hence the name. Basically this is an acid that can melt you The Arch of the Covenant
-style...not pretty. Now this acid does react violently to water and Changewing acid doesn't, so it's not a perfect line-up, but Changewing acid is still pretty darn similar, making me believe that, even if Changewing acid isn't exactly magic acid, it may be something chemically similar. (Actually, given that, magic acid sounds like it's slightly scarier than Changewing acid. Sometimes fact really is more frightening than fiction.)Theory 4: Changewings have chromatophores, pigmented organs, in their scales. These chromatophores are triggered to change to camouflage through heat.
Changewings can change the color and texture of their skin to match their surroundings to the point where they are practically invisible, but...how? Well, the only animal that has this ability to nearly the same degree is one of the Internet's favorite invertebrates, the cuttlefish. The cuttlefish achieves this superpower because its integument (skin or body covering) contains chromatophores, pigmented organs composed of an iridophore, a reflector made up of a number of thin films, and a leucophore, which scatters light. The cuttlefish shifts its color and pattern by expanding its chromatophores and manipulating the iridophore and leucophore. The full mysteries of the cuttlefish's great camouflage are still being studied, but that's a short version of what we do know as of now. I basically think Changewings have their ability by the same or at least similar mechanisms, having their own form of chromatophores in their skins.
But do you want to know the best part about all of this? Cuttlefish are actually colorblind. Go figure.
But that's not the end of the story. nathanviking actually messaged me with his own idea of how the Changewings trigger this camouflage ability: heat. Nathan's evidence comes from two things: the Dragons: Race to the Edge episode "A Gruff Separation" and the Light Fury's own camouflaging abilities.
In "A Gruff Separation," the Thorston twins each acquire shed Changewing skins that they then later ues as invisibility cloaks. The skins are visible when lying on the ground or just being held, but their camouflage abilities turn on again when one of the twins drapes themselves in one, even though the skins are no longer attached to the Changewing. It also is able to camouflage a rock the skin is placed over. Nathan suggests this may be the Changewing skins responding to heat. When draping a rock that has been sitting in the sun, it is responding to that heat, and when draped over a person, it is responding to the person's body heat.
We also see a similar mechanism in the Light Fury. The Light Fury can't actually change the color and texture of its scales to match its surroundings the way a Changewing can, but it can make its scales reflective and mirror-like, which gives it a similar appearance of invisibility against the sky or dense foliage. But the Light Fury can only make its scales mirror-like by super-heating its scales, hence why it triggers this ability by shooting an explosive fireball and then flying through it. If heating up the Light Fury's scales is the trick for changing them, why can't the same be true for the Changewing, just on a less drastic scale?
So if Nathan's theory is true, that means the Changewing controls its body temperature consciously to a certain extent, and it heats itself up to camouflage and cools itself down to reappear. This heating up of its body causes its chromatophores to shift and change.
To provide my own additions to Nathan's theory, this may also explain why Changewings don't like cold compared to many other dragons. We never see or hear of Changewings in cold environments; in fact, Changewing Island is one of the most southern isles in the Barbaric Archipelago, and Melting Wing and Springwing, two Changewings from Dragons: Rise of Berk, are said specifically to not emerge until the weather warms up in the spring. We also see that Changewings migrate seasonally, heading south in the winter and north in the summer, just like many real-life bird species that try to avoid cold winter weather. It may be that Changewings have a hard time camouflaging in cold weather. We know they are capable of blending in with snow, as shown by the Frost Skin in School of Dragons and the fact that they can be found at the Shivering Shores, but it may take more energy to generate the heat necessary for the camouflage when the environment outside is chilly. Since it may be exhausting for them to use this ability continuously in cold weather, that would explain why they need migrate to climates where they can camouflage while still conserving their energy.
Theory 5: It takes a lot out of a Changewing to breathe blue fire. Little-known fact: according to Hiccup's map in How to Train Your Dragon 2, Changewing's can breathe blue fire. It is also shown breathing fire at Bork the Bold in Book of Dragons and in one of the Dragons: Riders of Berk comics, so this is not too inconsistent. But while this little bit of info probably just steams from mistakes, this isn't actually the first time we've heard about a normally non-fire-breathing dragon being able to breathe blue fire. The Thunderdrum is supposed to be able to do this, but doing so apparently takes a lot out of the dragon and makes it extremely vulnerable. I think the Changewing is probably the same way. It can shoot blue fire, but this move takes a lot out of it, so why bother with that when you can shoot acid that eats through everything?
Theory 6: Changewings breed once a year.
Other dragons we've seen breed do, so I assume Changewings do.
Theory 7: Changewings grow up very quickly.
Other dragons we've seen grow up do, so I assume Changewings do.
Theory 8: The Changewing communicates with a lot of visual signals.
Changewings are said to mimic a lot of what they see, and they are said to change colors uncontrollably when they're very emotional. So visual signals are clearly something they're in-tune to and can tell you something about them. For this reason, I think these pack dragons communicate a lot through visual signals.
Theory 9: Changewings live on the small island next to Scauldron Island. If you look at Hiccup's map, a Changewing is drawn next to a small island that's near Scauldron Island. A line is drawn between the Changewing and this island. So I think Changewings can be found on this island.
Theory 10: Changewings only live on the Shivering Shores during the warm part of the year.
According to Dragons: Rise of Berk
, Changewings can be found at the Shivering Shores. But this is a very cold location, and Changewings are shown to migrators. So I think it's safe to say that the Shivering Shores is only a summer territory for Changewings; they all leave during the colder half of the year.Theory 11: The Shivering Shores is kept cold by the lack of East Atlantic Current bringing warm water to it.
I already explained this theory on my Flightmare theories post and it wasn't short, so rather than type that out again, I'll just link it you here
.Theory 12: The Clover Coast is an island covered in clover, even close to the beaches.
The Clover Coast is a temporary searchable location in Dragons: Rise of Berk
where Night Terrors and Changewings can be found. I covered this theory in my Night Terror theories post, so I'll just link that here
Theory 13: A Triple Stryke named Scoulder lives on Changewing Island.
This headcanon is one I mentioned in my Triple Stryke theories post, which you can see here.
Fun Fact #1:
Did you guys know that Hiccup has actually (somewhat) trained a female Changewing named Phantom? She features in the Dragons: Riders of Berk
comic "The Legend of Ragnarok."Fun Fact #2:
While hypnotized by Phantom, Hiccup actually kissed Tuffnut. ...I just really felt it was important that everyone knows that because there is not enough fan content about it. XDFun Fact #3:
Phantom also hypnotizes Hiccup to nearly walk off a cliff. ...Phantom is fun. XD
Fun Fact #4: The story in the DreamWorks Press: Dragons mobile game, which currently only has Book One Flight of the Returnwing, is told in second person and features the reader as a mysterious stranger shipwrecked near Berk with no memories of their past and a dragon egg in their possession. After being rescued by Hiccup and Toothless, we learn the egg is a Changewing egg, and the reader/stranger bonds with the baby dragon. (And they never finished the story, what the heck?! In fact, the fact that this story was never finished is why I made my latest OCs, Stray and his Changewing Faith, last month, who basically have the backstory of Flight of the Returnwing...because I was just so dang miffed that we never found out what happened next.)
And that's everything I have on Changewings! As always, feel free to say whether you agree, disagree, or have anything to add.
Next week, we'll be doing a request from SingingRedfox
: the Windstriker!