Dragons are the dominant life form of Pyrrhia. Scavengers were once the dominant form of life, but dragons overthrew them in an event known as The Scorching. Dragons are highly intelligent, being capable of speech, tool-making, and other abilities that are normal in complex societies. Some even possess a form of magic, and when they do, they are known as animus dragons.
No dragons in the series have died of natural causes yet, but a few are known to have lived over a hundred years. According to Starflight, dragons live more than a hundred years before they die "peacefully in their sleep", at least, if they are not killed earlier. Tui T. Sutherland has stated that the average lifespan for dragons is roughly 150 years.
Biology and Anatomy
Dragons fall into one of seven general species, or tribes: RainWings, SandWings, SeaWings, NightWings, SkyWings, MudWings, and IceWings. They are capable of cross-breeding and producing hybrid dragons, but this does not occur often, as tribe rivalry is quite common. It has been confirmed that there are more dragon tribes on another continent first introduced by Clearsight.
They follow a hexapodal design, with six limbs, two of which have been modified for flight. The wings consist of membrane stretched in between the bones of the five digits, with a large claw on the third digit, and are attached at the top of the shoulder, with the forelegs attached at the bottom. They are about eighteen feet tall, up to their head, and twelve feet up to their shoulders, when full-grown. Dragon bones are nearly as hard as diamonds, so they are quite difficult to break. Which means that dragons are extremely strong as well, due to multiple dragons like Queen Ruby being able to easily snap other dragons' necks.
All dragons are equipped with large talons at the base of each foot, five on the forelegs and four on the rear legs, and all can fly, however, not all can breathe fire. These dragons compensate for that with some other ability, usually depending on their habitat. IceWings breath frostbreath instead of fire, SeaWings have gills and are capable of bio-lumnesence, and RainWings have camouflage and an acid-like venom. Most species are carnivorous, with omnivorous exceptions such as the RainWings. Most of the dragons have large, sharp teeth suited for their diet. RainWings, though, are mainly herbivores, subsisting only on fruits. Dragons can go for up to a month without eating.
They reproduce by making eggs, which usually hatch into young dragons called dragonets after a year of incubation, although, in the prologue for Moon Rising, Secretkeeper had said that she left MoonWatcher in the Rainforest when the two moons were full and that when the dragonet hatched, there were two full moons. So perhaps with Nightwings, it takes a time of moon cycles for the egg to hatch.
Each tribe has specialized structures and abilities that differentiate them from the other tribes. Most typical is some sort of exhalation, most commonly fire. SkyWings, NightWings, and SandWings can breathe fire at any given time, whereas MudWings can only breathe fire when they are warm enough. IceWings exhale a freezing breath, while RainWings can spit corrosive acid that only affects biological matter. SeaWings are the only tribe that cannot exhale anything that may be used as a weapon. The most commonly modified structures in dragons are either the wings, the claws, or the tail.
IceWings have modified claws to grip the ice, powerful frostbreath that has the ability to snap off limbs after contact, a resistance to below freezing temperatures so they can stay alive and comfortable in their habitat, and before Prince Arctic ran away with Foeslayer, IceWings used to have animus magic running through the royal family.
MudWings have nostrils located on the top of the snout to allow them to breathe while submerged in mud and water. In addition, they can hold their breath for up to an hour, they also have tough and armored scales for extra protection. However, occasionally, a blood red MudWing egg will hatch, giving the dragonet inside the ability to resist fire. This power is strengthened by being in the mud, which also strengthens MudWings in general. An example of a fire-proof MudWing would be Clay.
NightWings were thought to have telepathy, as well as precognition, or the ability to predict future events. However, no NightWing has had these abilities in over a century (other than Moonwatcher), explaining why Starflight has no powers in the original series. It is later revealed by Darkstalker that these NightWing powers are activated by at least one of the three moons being full and able to shine on an egg. One full moon gives the powers of either precognition or telepathy. Two full moons give both. Three full moons are thought to give powerful telepathy and precognition, but this has not been proven. The NightWings have not hatched their eggs under the moonlight (besides Moonwatcher's and possibly Fatespeaker's) for around 2000 years, which may be because of the fact that they never wanted to have another Darkstalker. NightWings also have bacteria in their saliva to help kill prey, similar to a komodo dragon. They have created a veil of mystery around themselves, and not much else is known about their abilities, but it is thought they are slightly resistant to lava and fire, as shown when Vengeance didn't die immediately from the lava he was submerged in. Like the SeaWings and ancient IceWings, some NightWings have animus powers.
RainWings possess prehensile tails, similar to a chameleon's, used for navigating the forest. It was fairly recently discovered that they can also exhale a deadly venom from their fangs which they rarely use. Most noticeably, they have the ability to change the color of their scales to help them camouflage, however, it can also express their mood.
SandWings possess a venomous barb on their tail that is lethal to other life forms, they also have the ability to exhale fire. Also, back in Darkstalker's time, there was one animus SandWing named Jerboa, which proves that the Sandwings may have previously had animus blood.
SeaWings are the most well equipped underwater, having gills, along with the ability to see in the dark to help them navigate their watery home. They have powerful webbed claws and tails to help them swim noticeably better then the other tribes, They also use bio-luminescence to attract mates and to communicate while underwater by using a language called Aquatic. SeaWings also have animus blood running through the royal family, some animus dragons including, Princess Orca, Anenome, and Turtle.
SkyWings have large, almost overdeveloped wings, making them the best fliers among the dragons, they also have the ability to exhale fire. Sometimes, when SkyWings hatch in twin eggs, one of the twin dragonets absorb all of their twins fire, so that they have abnormally hot fire and can burn anything on touch, whereas their twin becomes weak and loses all of their fire ability. An example of this ability would be Peril.
Dragons have a complex, matriarchal society where each tribe is ruled by a hereditary queen. Each tribe differs in its traditions and values of life due to habitat and physiology. They are advanced enough to have speech and writing - all dragons appear to speak the same language. The SeaWings use their bio-luminescent stripes to communicate with a separate language called Aquatic (only used because speaking underwater would be difficult, if not impossible).
Additionally, they have kingdoms, armor and handheld weapons, so technologically and socially they are about Middle Ages level (with the possible exception of the NightWings, as they are very scientific). SeaWings and IceWings usually pair off in lifelong partnerships, and the nuclear family is extremely important.
It has been shown that MudWings and RainWings do not appear to care about their offspring (aristocratic IceWings appear only to care if their dragonets are at the top of their rankings). NightWings are plausible, and SkyWings and SeaWings care for their offspring deeply, as shown with Avalanche and Flame, Queen Ruby and Prince Cliff, Nautilus and Squid, and Queen Coral and her daughters.
It is stated in the books multiple times that dragons have a system of body language. Peril notes in Escaping Peril that there "appeared to be some kind of code" about the way Turtle and Qibli greeted each other in Possibility. Earlier in the book, Turtle lifts one of his wings to shush Peril. During Ruby's visit to Jade Mountain, Clay stands up and spreads his wings to catch the attention of her soldiers so that they can land.. It is mentioned that nudging another dragon's wing, or twining together their tails, is a sign of affection, showing that they're both in the same tribe; a family in a way.
Before the dragons had queens, the scavengers ruled Pyrrhia, and were the top of the food chain. Eventually, the dragons rebelled and established tribes and queens, so dragons could get help when they needed it, as shown with Osprey. This was known to the dragons as the Scorching.
Although there are many wars in Pyrrhia's history, such as the war between the NightWings and the IceWings, the most recent war was the War of the SandWing succession. This was caused by Queen Oasis of the SandWings being killed by a scavenger (or possibly two), and all three of her daughters (Blaze, Blister, and Burn) trying to claim the throne for themselves. This sparked a tribal war among the dragon tribes, since each of the princesses tried to get alliances with the other tribes in order to defeat their sisters.
After the war is ended by the Dragonets of Destiny, the tribes are now at an uneasy peace, though hostilities and tensions are still high.