Welcome to my Metazoic site! This site discusses the existence of the creatures to come along after humans will be extinct. I first became interested in a world after man when I acquired my first copy of Dougal Dixon's After Man: A Zoology of the Future in 1992. However, I unwittingly created creatures that did not exist from the time I was about 8 years old. But it was after I obtained a copy of that book (now a collector's item) that I decided to take these same creatures I created as a child and make them more realistic in an evolutionary sense. Though it may be hard for a lot of us to grasp, humans will soon become extinct. One of the biggest factors of how this will happen is the current overpopulation rate. Which is why I don't contribute to the population. I created this world with little more than mammals fulfilling all ecological niches with the help of some friends. I even gave the era of the age after man a name, I called it the Metazoic, derived from the words for "After-era" (Meta, meaning after, and zoic meaning era). We are now in the Cenozoic era. To view all the animals I have created since I began this project, you can go to the "Meet the Mammals" section of this site. To discuss your own ideas about what you think will happen in the future world, and share your ideas with others, please feel free to leave a comment.
One more thing, some of you may find this site quite offensive, and you have a right to your own opinion. But please respect my right to have an opinion too. I'm not saying there is no GOD, I believe it was HIM who got the ball rolling. But I believe after that, evolution took over. There is so much more evidence of evolution than there is of creation. Even that going on right under our noses. Other than that, enjoy yourself and visit our many links.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Here There Be (Not) Dragons

(The cover of said book)

I am sick in bed today, and so I thought I would dust off a few of my speculative zoology tomes and read them. One of the books I picked out was Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons. Yes, despite what one might think, speculative biology isn't just about aliens, alternate timelines, and future beasts. Essentially, speculative biology encompasses a wide variety of topics, but all share one common thread; they attempt to document and explain the natural history of fantastic creatures through science (for the sake of this discussion, I lump in heavily defined magic in with science).

However, this was not the case with Dragonology. It is so irritating how much it screwed up. I only had to turn to the first page to see them screw it up. On the very first page, the book attempts to describe the evolution of dragons. Unfortunately, it does it incredibly poorly. For example, they claim that a "four-legged dragon with wings" can evolve through Darwin's hypothesis of animal evolution through genetic mutation. One problem. Darwin never stated anything about genetic mutation. In fact, the method of how traits are passed from parents to offspring dogged Darwin his entire career, and he never made sense of it, even upon his death. Hundreds of miles away, however, Gregor Mendel did do research on genetics and to an extent mutations, even though his work was never recognized until long, long after his and Darwin's death. Another problem on this page is how these dragons breathe fire. Rather than using flammable gas, as most dragon books do (in fact Dragonology goes out of its way to dismiss this), Dragonology states that dragons breathe fire through igniting their venom. Wait....what?

The next problems arise on the page documenting the distribution of dragons throughout the world. Not only do the authors of this book fail the history of science, they apparently failed taxonomy as well. First off, all the dragons have the genus name Draco. Every. Single. One. Of course, there is the slight problem that the genus name Draco is already occupied, by a small gliding lizard from Asia. Not only that, but the authors screw up the rules of subspecies as well. Take for example the subspecies of European dragons, D. occidentalis magnus and D. occidentalis martimus. Or the three or so species of "amphitheres", D. americanus mex, D. americanus tex, and D. americanus incognito. First off, the very definition of a subspecies states that one subspecies has to have the same subspecies as its species, that's the whole point of a subspecies, to further differentiate below the species level. Where are D. occidentalis occidentalis and D. americanus americanus? Secondly, while science does not frown upon using non-Latinic words in scientific names, it does demand they be "latinized". Thus, D. americanus tex and D. americanus mex should be D. americanus texanus and D. americanus mexicanus, under the rules of classification.

Other than its classification, there are other problems with D. occidentalis martimus, otherwise known as the frost dragon. First off, the book claims that the frost dragon attacks with a frost blast. What? How can the same venom that produces the fiery blast in most other species of dragons, suddenly turn to ice just because the animal lives in the Arctic. The other problem is that the range of the frost dragon is a Holarctic one, ranging across Greenland, North America, and Scandinavia. And yet the article says that the frost dragon says it eats leopard seals...which live on the other side of the world. This book also fails geography forever, apparently.

There are also numerous problems with the amphitheres. First off, the book states that prehistoric amphitheres killed their prey by using their powerful talons. So...why did the talons vanish from the amphithere's body. To put this in perspective, that would be like saying that an anteater's claws and long tongue, the very means by which it makes its living, would suddenly vanish. It makes no sense. But all that seems miniscule by their claims regarding Archaeopteryx and the phoenix. According to the book, Archaeopteryx is a species of primitive phoenix, a group that represent transitional forms between venomous reptiles and dragons. WHAT! So...birds share a common ancestor with dragons...who both evolved from toxicoferans (the "venomous reptile" clade, which includes monitor lizards, gila monsters, snakes, and iguanas. Yes, really.) Apparently, this person hasn't picked up a single paleontology book in their lives. I mean, even when the bird-dinosaur theory wasn't popular, scientists still knew birds were related to archosaurs in some way.

Finally, we come to the marsupial dragon. WHAT! So, let me get this straight, just because an animal lives in Australia, it automatically makes it a marsupial? So that explains all those pouched crocodiles, monitor lizards, and birds running around in Australia, then. And what about the Australian dragon-like creatures in aboriginal mythology. The bunyip, people, the bunyip! And the thing hops. Like a kangaroo.

Of course, for every poorly done speculative biology book, there is a good one on the same subject. If one wants to read an actually good book on the subject of "dragon natural history", I would reccomend Dragons and Unicorns: A Natural History by Paul and Karin Johnsgard.

Edit - Upon further rereading of the book, I discovered that it states that frost dragons make annual migrations to and from each pole. This...sort of explains how leopard seals can figure into a frost dragon's diet, but it doesn't explain how a creature can survive for half the year by feeding on the apex predator of an environment (it just doesn't work). Nor does it explain why they breathe ice.


Timgal said...

Wow! That book is incredibly silly! "Ignites it's venom"?? I don't think venom is flammable.

Anyway, sorry to hear you don't feel good. Hope you get better.

Metalraptor said...

They fail biology forever.

Anonymous said...

Well, to be fair, the book was meant to look as if it was written in the 1890s. I think the author was well aware of at least some of his "mistakes."

Metalraptor said...

I realize that the author was trying to write this book as if it had been written in the 1890's, like when he says that there are marsupial dragons both in Patagonia and Australia, suggesting the "preposterous notion" that the continents were both connected (continental drift wasn't really accepted until the 1960's), and so I let that slide. In fact, I thought that added to the book in a way.

However, this does not excuse some of the other mistakes such as attributing the idea of genetic mutation to Darwin (mutation didn't even enter the scientific lexicon until at least 1900, when Mendel's work was rediscovered), and the general lack of imagination and creativity which went into the marsupial dragon. An Australian animal is not going to develop into a kangaroo-like animal just because it lives in Australia. Nor will it develop a pouch just because it lives in Australia.

Nor does it excuse the theory the book "suggests" that birds and dragons share a common ancestor among the toxicoferan lizards and other squamates. Even when Archaeopteryx was known, no one doubted it was an archosaur of some kind. The question was more of what kind of archosaur was it? A crocodilian cousin? A dinosaur cousin? A "thecodont"?

Anonymous said...

Certainly the sickness caused that all of you completely lost your senses. "Dragonology" is a fantasy book created just for fun - for children and those adults who want to entertain themselves. It only PRETENDS to be a scientic work and every little intelligent reader knows it from the very first page. The book is full of spells and magic items. Could it be taken as a real peace of natural history? Writing a serious critical note about a funny book of fantasy is really ridiculous.
Greeting from Poland!

Timgal said...

Well dude, I'm sorry, but if someone is going to discuss anything that ends with the word "ology", there should be some scientific basis to their theories. Remember Animal Planet's program about dragons? Surely that was fantasy, but there were some plausible theories mixed in.
Greetings from the USA.

Knucker said...

I think this is a great book and you can't just go on one persons opinion. I respect your opinion, but, if it was so screwed, then why has it sold so many books and why are there so many books of Dragonology? And, how is it strange that it ignites it's venom. It is possible.

el Squibbonator said...

Last time I checked, Also, the book says they do it by secreting flint and iron out of glands in their mouths and rubbing them together to create a spark! Wouldn't electrical organs like an electric eel's work be more likely?

Anonymous said...

Venom is usually made up of some form of proteins. Proteins are not a very flammable substance. They may denature, but they do not combust easily.

The electrical organs idea actually seems a bit more plausible than the flint and iron idea. Neither idea is particularly far-fetched, but one would have to wonder in the latter case how inorganic minerals became deposited in the mouth in large quantities.