THE DRAGONS OF PERN !
complied from wikipedia and
other sources, dragon growth and name
information from here.
∞ Mating Flights
∞ Hatching & Impressioning
∞ Growth Rate
∞ Dragon Names
The race was intentionally engineered to fight Thread after it first caught the human colonists on Pern unawares, with devastating results. Geneticist Kitti Ping Yung designed the dragons by manipulating the genetic code of the indigenous fire-lizards that had been acquired as pets by the colonists. The dragons were named after their resemblance to Western dragons from the legends of old Earth. Later genetic manipulation by Ping's granddaughter, Wind Blossom, also resulted in the watch-whers, ungainly, nocturnal creatures who bore a slight resemblance to dragons.
Dragons are described as carnivorous, oviparous, warm-blooded creatures. Like all of Pern's native large fauna, they have six limbs - four feet and two wings. Their blood, referred to as ichor, is copper-based and green in color. they have multifaceted eyes that change color depending on the dragon's mood. Their head and general body type is described by McCaffrey as being similar in shape to those of horses. On their heads they have small headknobs, similar to those of giraffes, and no visible ears. Unlike the dragons of Terran legend, they have a smooth hide rather than scales; the texture of their skin is described as being reminiscent of suede with a spicy, sweet scent when clean. They are described as having forked tail ends with a defecation opening between the forks. The dragons usually get from one place to another by going through a teleportation process known as 'going between'.
Kitti Ping designed the dragons to gradually increase in size with each generation until they reached pre-programmed final dimensions. The dragons of the first Hatchings were not much bigger than horses. By the Sixth Pass (1500 years later) they had reached their programmed size and remained at that size until a single isolated dragon population suffered severe inbreeding, resulting in much larger beasts. In the 9th Pass the largest Pernese dragon on record, Ramoth, hatched. According to the novel All the Weyrs of Pern these dragons were roughly three times the size of the largest first-generation dragons. Ramoth, at full length, was forty-five feet. In All the Weyrs of Pern, AIVAS, an artificial intelligence still in operation after all this time, notes that all of the primary Benden dragons, Ramoth, Mnementh and Canth, are notably larger than Kitti Ping's specified end-size of the dragon species. Newly hatched dragons are the size of very large dogs or small ponies, and reach their full size after eighteen months. Because young dragons grow so fast, their riders must regularly apply oil to their hides to prevent the skin from cracking or drying out.
Dragons, like their fire-lizard ancestors, can breathe fire by chewing a phosphine-bearing rock, called "firestone" in the novels, which reacts with an acid in a special "second stomach" organ. This forms a volatile gas that can be exhaled at will and ignites upon contact with air. The flame is used to burn Thread from the sky before it reaches the ground. However, the chewed firestone must be expelled from the body after it is used up, for the dragons cannot digest it.Limbs:
Blood - The blood of dragons is called ichor and it is green.
Bones - The bone structure of a dragon is based upon light, flexible plates rather than bones.
Ears - Dragons do not have ears. They hear through their sensitive head knobs atop their heads.
Excretia (Muck) - Dragons excrete through a sphincter in the fork of their tails.
Eyes - The eyes of dragons and firelizards are faceted and protected by three lids. The colors of the eyes serve as a guide to the emotional state of the dragon or firelizard and the speed at which the eyes 'whirl' (probably an optical illusion caused by minor distortions of the eye facets) is a measure of the intensity of the emotion. A following is a rough correspondance between eye color and emotional state:
vGenitalia - A dragon's genitalia is located at the juncture of the tail and body and is protected by pouchlike flaps of skin..
Muscles - The muscles of a dragon are silver-gray in appearance.
Skin - Dragons have a uniformly soft and hairless hide, not skin or scales.
Both Green and Gold dragons rise, both experiencing periodic mating urges. Green generally rise to mate as soon as they are mature, which can be after a Turn. A Gold however will rise much later after she has matured, sometimes when she is two Turns old, more often then not after this, sometimes a long time after her second Turn. The reasons for this are unclear. Each female dragon rises a different number of times each Turn, a Green usually rises about four times a Turn, even if they are not within a Pass. A Gold however may rise as little as once a Turn, though the more regular number is two. It ma be more during a Pass.
Before rising to mate, a female dragon will shows signs of being ready to mate, usually by colour change. In a Green, this can be days before, along with general personality changes, during which her rider can become irritable or show uncharacteristic behaviour. A Gold, however, may show almost no signs until the moment she rises. Throughout the day before a mating flight, a Gold can become strangely tired, sleeping for most of it, unable to be awoken before her flight. If there is no other way of noticing if a Gold will rise, sometimes her rider can be an indication, showing signs of high emotion, or 'proddiness'.
As a female goes to rise, her instincts are more prominent, and her rider must control her more then usual. If she goes to eat, then she must be forced to blod her kill, because a full dragon may not reach the height needed in flight before she crashes to the ground. The males in tune to her rising will also blood their kills, usually before she has even awoken. Greens are unlikely to blood their kills, or even go to eat, as they do not require the energy a Gold would need to reach enough height to ensue a long mating and a large clutch. As with males, they are unlikely to blood their kills if it is a Green, though smaller beasts may do so.
A Gold is incredibly territorial, not willing to let 'her' males be taken by another female. All other Golds in the Weyr should be removed, since a rising Gold could trigure another Gold to rise as well. If the removed Gold is close to mating, a select number of males should be taken with her. If two Golds were to rise at the same time, both would fight to the death to keep hold of 'their' chasers, and even if a Green was to rise at the same time, they are likely to chase one off. Greens do not generally show such territorial behaviour, and do not mind another rising at the same time as them, though some may make the other leave to a different section of air.
During a flight, the males chasing are forced to compete for the females attention, staying close to her throughout her flight in an attempt to catch her. If the female bloods, they usually finish before her, mainly because they have watched the female for signs of beginning to rise, and have finished before her. A male will seek to out manoeuvre all the other males, getting as close to the female to show off and gain their affections so they are allowed to catch her. A traditional flight would entail that the 'last male standing' as it were would simply catch the female, outflying all the others in a show of strength and stamina.
During a Gold flight it is advised that there be a Dragonhealer on hand, since males can get aggressive during flights. There are too many Greens for a Dragonhealer to be around for each of their flights, and since their flight are generally more relaxed, it is not needed, but it is advised.
It isn't uncommon for there to be a few dead eggs in a clutch, generally thought to be a bad omen, but is of no concern for either the mother or her rider. Usually, a clytching female is gravid for eight to ten sevendays, or roughly 2 months, before she clutches her eggs. The eggs then spend five sevendays hardening on the sands of the Hatching Ground before hatching.
HATCHING & IMPRESSION
Riders have often described the moment of Impression to be the greatest and most fullfilling moment of their lives. Many will grow wistful as they think of it. One thing is for certain, it is a beautiful and amazing time for any rider or candidate.
Once the eggs have begun to hatch, or show signs of hatching, the candidates living at the Weyr are instantly sent to the sands. All candidates are required to wear a cerimonial wite robe, roughly reaching their knees (any higher and it is too small, leaving the candidate open to burns if they land on the sand), however, eceptions can be made. If there are not enough candidates from the Searches that have taken place snce the clutch has been laid, then searchriders will go and find some more from the surrounding Holds and drop them off at the sands. No dragon but the dam and possibly the sire is present on the sands at this time, without express permission from the dam. Usualy candidates stand in two groups at opposite ends of the sands: one side for the girls, one for the boys. As the eggs hatch, dragonets will go through the candidates on offer, often trampling those in the way. A hatchling wil only speak to it's bonded during it's hatching, and will more often then not name a candidate (now weyrling) by their rider name. If they do not, then it is up to the rider to choose a rider name during the feast and before lessons.
During a hatching it is not uncommon for there to be a few 'dud' eggs, or even for a few dragonets to go between. During a Pass, these events are less common despite the larger number of eggs, as there is normally more candidates on offer from the surrounding Holds and the needs for more dragons makes a clutching dragons produce more fertilised eggs. The larger and stronger the sire, the more normal eggs there are, as well as more eggs in general, stronger hatchlings and larger hatchlings.
A feast is held after the hatching, and the families of the new riders, as well as important Hold figures and Weyrfolk, are all invited. More often then not, the Weyrleaders will both make speeches, as will the Weyrling Master or Candidate Master, though it is optional for all parties.
At birth, most dragons are approximately the same size. There's no way to tell what dragon is in what shell simply by looking at the size of the eggs, although gold eggs are usually larger and more, well, golden than the others. When they first hatch, they can be picked up, but only awkwardly. This state doesn't last long, and pretty soon they must move under their own power, because they grown too large for their lifemates to carry them. They grow quickly in their first two months, tripling or even quadrupling their size. They must be kept well oiled, or their delicate hides will crack and become damaged.
Dragon take anywhere from around one and a half to two turns to reach their full, adult size. They grow quickly, and are able to start learning to fly around six months, when they've reached about half their adult size. The greens reach sexual maturity before they reach their full adult growth, and rise to mate for the first time around 1 turn of age. Golds mature much later, at two turns of age. The browns fall right in the middle, at 1 1/2 turn. Blues mature before browns, but after greens, while bronzes mature after browns, but before golds.
Dragons are not just pets, and in fact are sentient creatures in their own right. When a rider Impresses a dragon, that dragon will tell his or her rider their name. This name will always end in -th. Out of respect, no firelizard or wher will ever have a name ending in -th. (Whers have names ending in -sk)