The Best Dragon (According to Science)

The Best Dragon (According to Science)


Hi, this is Julián from MinuteEarth. Dragons don’t exist – but if they did – which
would be pretty cool – they’d need to conform to Earth’s biological and physical rules. So we figured we’d make a fun video about
which of these famous fantasy dragons would have the best shot at being more than just
fantasy. To rank these dragons’ believability, we’ll
start with the most egregiously unnatural characteristics of dragons and move up from
there. Look, obviously dragons breathe fire, but
we looked into it and the only thing that even comes close to that in nature is the
bombardier beetle, which fires boiling hot liquid from its butt to burn its enemies – not
exactly fire breathing. So let’s just move on to limbs. Most Western depictions of dragons, like on
the Welsh flag, have four legs and two wings for a total of six limbs. But all bony creatures on Earth evolved from
a four-limbed fish whose body is the blueprint for every other bony creature … including
a hypothetical dragon, clearly a bony creature. This would make it very unlikely for a six-limbed
dragon to evolve on Earth. That’s why some fantasy writers, filmmakers,
and game designers have used real bats, birds, and pterosaurs as models for their four-limbed
dragons. So we’re placing all these six-limbed dragons
in the bottom tier, including the Smaug from the theatrical release of the first Hobbit
film. The Smaug from the second film, however, gets
to move on, since the filmmakers removed his front legs, not because they particularly
cared about Earth’s evolutionary history, but because they thought it would make for
a more expressive performance. A wingless four-legged dragon would be accurate
too, but without magical flight like Eastern depictions of dragons, that’s basically
just a lizard. So, let’s talk about wings: animals need
them in order to fly, which means they need big chest muscles to flap their wings, which
means they need a tall ridge on their specially modified sternums called a “keel” for
the muscles to attach to. A dragon without a keel couldn’t have the
muscles needed to power fast enough flight to keep its massive body in the air. That means it’s the end of the line for
these smooth-chested beauties. But a keel alone is not enough to fly; any
creature that wants to fly also needs the right combination of weight, wing size, and
flight speed. The more a creature weights, the bigger its
wings need to be or the faster it needs to fly to generate the necessary lift to keep
it afloat. For example, penguins, which do have a keel,
could actually fly despite their comically narrow wings, but they would have to go nearly
as fast as a commercial airliner and deal with ludicrous forces on their wings. The Quetzalcoatlus pterosaur, thought to be
the largest flying animal to have ever existed, had a 12 meter wingspan, which kept its 250
kilograms aloft at a reasonable 80 Km/h speed. Naturally, we painstakingly calculated the
weights and wing sizes of all our remaining dragon contenders and found they all had wings
too small for their weight, meaning they’d need to fly at ridiculously fast speeds in
order to sustain flight and the forces involved would destroy any flesh and bone based wings. Wait, so NOBODY wins? Well … among our remaining candidates, the
most realistic has to be the one with the biggest wings in relation to their weight. And the winner is: the Hungarian Horntail
from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It has four limbs, a keel to hold its muscles,
and the biggest wings in relation to its weight. Now, whether or not you could ride it … we
could get into that, but we don’t want this video to drag-on. Did someone just make a claw-some pun?! Hey Matt! What brings you over to MinuteEarth from the
Extra Credits side of the internet? Well Julián, you got me thinking… if the
existence of these fantastical beasts are scientifically improbable at best… then
how did tons of cultures around the world each come up with Dragons myths before every
having contact with one another? Good question! Say, you wouldn’t happen to… oh I don’t
know… have any idea where one could find a youtube video discussing that very topic
would you? You know, I just might! If you’re fired up about dragons like I
am, then come fly by the Extra Mythology campfire, where we’ll talk all about the Dragon myths
of various cultures, human psychology, dinosaurs, and even the politics of Dragons! Political dragons eh? Hope they can let “Bagons be Bagons”… Did we just become best friends?

100 Comments

  • MinuteEarth

    November 4, 2019

    We had a blast working with our friends at ExtraCredits! Go learn about the origin of dragons in their video, it's quite the fantastic tail : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rL8qSfXIo4M

    Reply
  • casey gray

    November 5, 2019

    i saw dragon videos, and i click them

    Reply
  • ThePacific

    November 5, 2019

    HTTYD fans are mad because you dont even know how dragon anatomy works :/
    i think the best realistic dragon is toothless because all scientific details are attached to it and you have to be a httyd fan to really know that info, so yeah thats not your fault to think toothless cant exist , its because you dont have the knowlegde (wich is ur fault 🙂

    Reply
  • Joshua DSilva

    November 5, 2019

    Can you do a Pokémon video? For the new Sword and Shield game?
    Maybe something like the best type according to Science?

    Reply
  • JustSomeGuy_16

    November 5, 2019

    "Four-legged dragons" not being realistic enough to get high on a dragon tier list???
    wtf?
    Dragons are literally lizzards with 4 legs and 2(+) wings!
    Any "dragon" with less legs, like the two-legged version, would be called a WYVERN.

    That is like saying a manatee isn't a realistic manatee because it's not a fkn dolphin.

    Reply
  • zero X

    November 5, 2019

    Video: Hungarian huntail dragon is the winner

    Me: are this not counting? Basically same as Hungarian huntail dragon 😅

    https://youtu.be/k_vNkMEk8pc

    https://youtu.be/DTWfwoMk2pQ

    Reply
  • Rainbow Osprey

    November 5, 2019

    Ender Dragon has poison breath

    Reply
  • Michael Yu

    November 5, 2019

    2:24 Hatzegopteryx: allow me to introduce myself

    Reply
  • Shiran .I.

    November 5, 2019

    Wait, isn't it TierZoo schtick?

    Reply
  • Nathan Choe

    November 5, 2019

    I can't believe king ghidorah is not here (jk he would be too heavy) then again, he is an alien (most of the time)

    Reply
  • Noehoemoe

    November 5, 2019

    Flat chested dragons are put down a tier? WOW.

    Reply
  • falkorpipex

    November 5, 2019

    But "dragons" with 4 limbs are not dragons, they are called wyverns

    Reply
  • Alexandre J.

    November 5, 2019

    Meh. Toothless seemed quite aerodynamic for me though :/

    Reply
  • Pyra Darkstorm

    November 5, 2019

    I identify myself as a dragon.

    Reply
  • Donald Hobson

    November 5, 2019

    If your making dragons with your advanced genetics, having 4 legs isn't a problem. Evolution has to change animals one small tweak at a time. As extra tiny armlets aren't a survival advantage, we can't get extra limbs. Genetic modification can leap.

    Reply
  • gustavo sirqueira soares da silva

    November 5, 2019

    UhH cHaRiZaRd Is NoT a DrAgOn

    Reply
  • Kenji Shiratsuki

    November 5, 2019

    I love your puns. I wish I could come up with one to compliment you with, but a cold has been dragon me down recently.

    Reply
  • Ace Maxximus

    November 5, 2019

    Smaug was the coolest tho

    Reply
  • Clara L. Young

    November 5, 2019

    Is there any any way to calculate the speed, wing span, and weight ratio? I'm a fantasy writer and I could really use it… Just trying to make my books as realistic as possible😅

    Reply
  • Yuven

    November 5, 2019

    I think narrowing it down to 4 limbed dragons is a bit wrong. Dragons dont exist, we know that. But In a fantasy world, they do not have to evolve from a quadroped, thus making it not as improbable.

    As far as I know, there are no laws of nature stopping hexapods from existing

    Reply
  • Silver Star

    November 5, 2019

    1:00 Ah bloody hell man, that is just too damn funny somehow that you were able to sneak that in. Even if it is overplayed.

    Reply
  • Mr.Bubbles

    November 5, 2019

    How about the Dragonoid from Bakugan Battle Brawlers ??

    Reply
  • Kíra Tóth

    November 5, 2019

    Hungarian Horntail?!
    I don't know what kind of dragon is that, but its HUNGARIAN Horntail! I'm very suprised. And happy.

    (i am hungarian, so don't ask why i'm happy)

    Reply
  • The Azoitei Broz / Galaxy Entertainment

    November 5, 2019

    Nice kiwi reference

    Reply
  • Orbital Potato

    November 5, 2019

    Dragons are just flying dinosaurs

    Reply
  • Spartan

    November 5, 2019

    Oh no.. A crossover with Extra Communist…

    Reply
  • Dream Wolf

    November 5, 2019

    there is a 'fake-umentary' about finding dragons where they actually find some interesting ways to explain various things about dragons, scientifically.

    Special gut flora that produces flammable hydrogen gas, which is pumped into a specialized set of air bladders, an instinctive craving for raw platinum and rear teeth designed to act like two pieces of flint striking.

    The hydrogen, lighter than air, would also reduce the wing span requirements, and less dense bone structure (possibly hollow like a bird) would also help with weight.

    My own personal feeling in regards to the 6 limb issue…

    Well, ive got an uncle who makes about 6k a year selling the mutant 5-8 limbed calves this one cow of his has…shes never had a normal calve…they ALWAYS have too many legs. (of course they are also stillborn, but thats not the point) Lizards…have an extremely high rate of 'too damn many of things'. two heads, 5 or more limbs…hell, snakes are born all the time with legs….So it is reasonable, to think that given the right circumstances, a species with six limbs could develop, and even specialize one set of those limbs into wings…

    That and, even if there was one in the fossil record…i mean shit, they had the bones from like, a dozen dinosaurs mixed into a single specimen, for decades, before realizing it…

    Reply
  • Abyaz Karim

    November 5, 2019

    What about my guy, Alolan Eggxecutor.

    Reply
  • tomato shi

    November 5, 2019

    a typical chinese dragon has 5 legs,you hear it right,not 4or6 but 5legs…in chinese myth,strange creature has odd number legs,like the golden raven,the symbol creature for the sun(also the symbol of japan,you can find the creature in japanese national football team uniform)has 3 legs

    Reply
  • Stormgem Thunder

    November 5, 2019

    6-limbed dragons in my story are cousins with the drake. True, it is 4 limbed but it has very tiny wings (and even be mistaken for spines) so…

    Reply
  • Eracnet Plays

    November 5, 2019

    First Rebecca doesn’t animate mouths and then Maaz doesn’t animate eyes, and now we have a a channel that doesn’t animate both

    Reply
  • Jukebox

    November 5, 2019

    Charizard is not a dragon type

    Reply
  • Abalooga Smuffy

    November 5, 2019

    What about the dragons from that christian bale film with matthew mcchonagay or however you spell it

    Reply
  • Kate Sturgeon

    November 5, 2019

    🙁 i ♥️ noivern 😭

    Reply
  • Isslem Omri

    November 5, 2019

    Why u didnt put leviathan in there?

    Reply
  • Isslem Omri

    November 5, 2019

    Ugh first noivern dont fly much he's a winged thing that wont fly often he dont even need it…..why is ga a dragon typed on ur mind?hmmm?why?

    Reply
  • Unicorn Gamer

    November 5, 2019

    I get it we’ll make the dragon drag and if it can be reallllllll and it doesn’t breath fire relly😬where does it live!!!!🤯

    Reply
  • Nova Knight

    November 5, 2019

    What about Komodo Dragons?

    Reply
  • Atruval

    November 5, 2019

    Got a minute? Get some extra credit! 😀 Nice colab 😛

    Reply
  • Luredreier

    November 5, 2019

    0:34
    The bombardier beetle manages that by combining chemicals inside their body before shooting them out.
    Imagining that combination happening outside the body with a exothermic reaction instead isn't that far fetched.

    1:31
    Extra fingers is common even on humans.

    And it doesn't take that much genetic change to create an extra limb.
    Something like that could evolve through a freak accident of evolution.

    Reply
  • ricochet

    November 5, 2019

    Mmm naaah I'm voting for Drogon from GOT.

    Reply
  • Tanki The T-34-85

    November 5, 2019

    2:00 Kiwi!

    Reply
  • thekingofcardboard

    November 5, 2019

    Remember that movie "Reign of Fire"?
    No? That's fine it was terrible. The only reason i remember it is It had a dragon that fit all this criteria, and was fairly realistic. It was 4 limbed, had a keel, and wings roughly the size of an average size parking lot.

    Reply
  • monimoni0147

    November 5, 2019

    But the four limbed ones are not called dragons, they're actually wyverns.

    Reply
  • PoTato Head PokéMario

    November 5, 2019

    Matt, I hate you, it's not extra credits without Daniel

    Reply
  • Aly Homewood

    November 5, 2019

    Hold on…
    So the only way dragons could exist on this Earth would be if they were Wyverns…
    My whole life has been a lie…

    Reply
  • Suicide to Recovery

    November 5, 2019

    Ludicrous speed, GO!

    Reply
  • Mossy Code

    November 5, 2019

    Tohru is still the best dragon

    Reply
  • Valledorthedragon

    November 5, 2019

    I find it curious how Toothless was knocked out first round cos if I remember right he actually does have the right wing to weight ratio to be able to fly

    Reply
  • Super Syed

    November 5, 2019

    1:30
    Shenron

    Reply
  • Super Syed

    November 5, 2019

    3:15
    😂😂

    Reply
  • Teoman Kamadan

    November 5, 2019

    Small, light

    Paper Dragon best Dragon

    F

    Reply
  • Tooupi

    November 5, 2019

    "we could get into that but we don't want this video to Drag-on" insta like xd

    Reply
  • Kazoo

    November 5, 2019

    A 4 limbed dragon is a wyvern you normie

    Reply
  • Nathan Fowlkes

    November 5, 2019

    Noivern is a giant bat.

    Reply
  • Christian Müller

    November 5, 2019

    Just like Nintendo did for 8 years, MinuteEarth completely forgot about Metroid.

    Reply
  • Ruby Newman

    November 5, 2019

    Bitch whats Charizard doing here? He ain't a dragon!

    Reply
  • Bored Insomniac

    November 5, 2019

    Actually, aside from the evolutionary point of having 4 legs (or a keel) the dragons from How to Train Your Dragon could conceivably fly, including the Red Death or Gronckle. Designers took a course in aerodynamics to try and make the dragons more realistic.

    Reply
  • Skuiggly

    November 5, 2019

    i was literally just thinking about how the wingspans of dragons probably cant carry those massive dragons

    Reply
  • ToothlesstheDragon

    November 5, 2019

    disaapionted dragon noises

    Reply
  • Justin Bordoff

    November 5, 2019

    So the best dragon according to science is a wyvern.

    Reply
  • Ben Caron

    November 5, 2019

    nice 4 min video with 3 min of adverts

    Reply
  • Blitznstitch2

    November 5, 2019

    Oh my gosh…that means angels would have wing arms…not arms and a set of wings

    Reply
  • gianni bude

    November 5, 2019

    Did you take also the dragon of reign of fire. That one look to me always very posible

    Reply
  • Robyn Wyrick

    November 5, 2019

    Sure, but would it be possible to bioengineer a dragon?
    The answer is probably "not yet". But if it humanity and advanced society survives for the next couple hundred years, we are definitely going to have dragons. We will learn how to design super-light weight bones, and stronger skin. Also, the fire breathing is every bit as plausible as electricity; we already have examples of those in eels. Dragons are coming.

    Reply
  • Eliza Tilsizoglou

    November 5, 2019

    What about toothless? From "how to train your dragon"

    Reply
  • Philip H.

    November 5, 2019

    I think you have confused dragons and wyverns. Or are you saying the only dragons which could exist are wyverns? 🤔

    Reply
  • Reydriel

    November 5, 2019

    I am perplexed by the lack of consideration for dragon maids as best dragons.

    Reply
  • Marxiplier

    November 5, 2019

    MinuteEarth: No dragon is scientifically possible

    King Ghidorah: Laughs in ET

    Reply
  • Libeck

    November 5, 2019

    Charizard is not a dragon!

    Reply
  • Coco Wei

    November 5, 2019

    Yes my boi Harry never disappoints me

    Reply
  • Maxwell Bamba

    November 5, 2019

    There is no Wings of fire dragons. 🙁

    Reply
  • Hust91

    November 5, 2019

    On one hand, fun topic, on the other, why start with the biologically unlikely but not impossible options like having six limbs (few dragons even lay claim to having evolved on earth – maybe there are other six-limbed creatures in those worlds?), or flame breath (unseen on earth but not strictly impossible, especially if intentionally designed by an intelligent being like the case of the Warcraft dragons)?

    I'd propose a re-ordering of the pyramid, with downright physics-violating capabilities like flight despite immense weight with no explanation at the bottom, followed by physics-violating capabilities that have an explicit and internally consistent method (science would of course adapt to the rules of physics in another universe rather than try to apply the rules of earth – observation-hypothesis-falsification is nearly always viable).

    After that I'd put physically possible but extremely unlikely features such as flame breath and six-limbed dragons on earth, and the second to final tier would be populated with biologically plausible but historically unlikely features such as six limbs, but descended from somewhere other than earth's evolutionary mechanism (other worlds and creatures designed by an intelligent actor). Here we might find the flying lizards from Avatar, or the Zerg Mutalisks, if they had bigger wingspans.

    The final tier would consist essentially of creatures that could evolve on earth and would probably just be lizards.

    Then again, maybe you initially did it in this order only to immediately discover that not a single one of the "dragon-like" critters in fiction passed the flying requirement?

    Reply
  • Bojan Skoric

    November 5, 2019

    And no dragons from animated movie "The Flight of Dragons" (1982) and book from where idea of "scientific" based dragon originated?

    Reply
  • Luigi Cotocea

    November 5, 2019

    Toothless is number 1 list

    Reply
  • zidaryn

    November 5, 2019

    On the subject of "fire breathing" why don't you guys check out the movie "Reign Of Fire." The dragons in that movie spray two different substances from glands in their mouths, and when they combine you get fire. (Same sort of idea as that beetle)

    Reply
  • Magi V

    November 5, 2019

    What about Lindworms and Drakes like Glaurung and Fafnir? You know, the flightless ones breathing poison? I feel like out of all of these, they are probably the most realistic ones.

    Reply
  • Antonio Ovalle

    November 5, 2019

    2 legs and winds is not a dragon but a wivern

    Reply
  • Attila Adrián Balázs

    November 5, 2019

    Hungarian 🇭🇺 yay

    Reply
  • Andy Pang

    November 5, 2019

    Me: but charizard isn’t a dragon type

    Reply
  • holeysh

    November 5, 2019

    One thing you didn't answer is what the dragon would have to be like to be able to fly reasonably. In 'A Wizard of Earthsea' by Ursula Le Guin, end of chapter 5 'The Dragon of Pendor' she describes dragon 'beating his wings that spanned the whole width of the ruined town' its a small town, but would that be enough?

    Reply
  • Mr. Rando

    November 5, 2019

    something something wyverns

    Reply
  • Scott Morgan

    November 5, 2019

    Spiders don't need wings to fly and dragonflies have six legs & four wings!

    Reply
  • Anna Fischer

    November 5, 2019

    How would hollow bones and small air sacs throughout the body ala birds, dinosaurs, and some prehistoric reptiles affect weight calculations? Were these included in your calculations to start with, and if so, how large would wings have to be if these were factored out?

    Reply
  • Tinor

    November 5, 2019

    AWSOME !

    Reply
  • Kevin Addams

    November 5, 2019

    Mixing Science and Fantasy????
    NEAT!!!! I love it!

    Reply
  • Ananya Sahoo

    November 5, 2019

    Did you make this video just to make the "Drag-on" joke? 😂

    Reply
  • Nico D. Sun

    November 5, 2019

    Now I want to see someone throwing a penguin out of an airplane to see if they use their flippers for flying.

    Reply
  • The Science Kitty

    November 5, 2019

    Aww man

    Reply
  • LM_Zamora

    November 5, 2019

    what about tha Discovery chanel video about dragons?

    Reply
  • Chase Rodgers

    November 5, 2019

    What about the Fell Beasts that the Nazgul ride in Lord of the Rings. Most realistic for sure. No fire, 4 limbs, long wings!

    Reply
  • Yamanu Hem.Netjer

    November 5, 2019

    How cute 😀

    Reply
  • DiabloDBS

    November 5, 2019

    How exactly did you calculate the mass of the dragons? Or is their mass actually mentioned in the corresponding lore?

    Reply
  • adam holt

    November 5, 2019

    And they were left with only wyverns after that limb part. Dragons by definition have 6 limbs and wyverns 4.

    Reply
  • BookofJamess

    November 5, 2019

    Let’s get some huge winged dragons in media now I guess

    Reply
  • Urizel Dark knight

    November 5, 2019

    Its not "Dragon" without arms its "Wyvern".
    Dislike

    Reply
  • Bradknightable

    November 5, 2019

    "Don't want it to drag on" me not paying attention glares at my phone

    Reply
  • Dragon Gaming

    November 5, 2019

    – –
    ^

    Reply
  • durgun

    November 5, 2019

    There was an amazing opportunity for a pun at the end, because one of the four forces of flight is drag. 🙁

    Reply
  • BRYAN VELASQUEZ

    November 5, 2019

    Wait a minute where’s ghidora

    Reply

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