Graduation Year


Graduation Month


Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

School or Department

Biological Sciences, Division of



Faculty Mentor

Kylla Benes


dragons, mythical creatures, biology, evolutionary biology, evolution, creative writing, fantasy, natural history, the history of life

Subject Categories

Animal Sciences | Biology | Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology | Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Evolution | Ornithology | Other Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Zoology


Dragons have been depicted in human art as early as 4500 BCE. For centuries, these fantasy creatures have inspired countless folk and fantasy tales, as well as appearing in the art of different cultures around the world. Now there are thousands of different depictions of these huge, flying, fire-breathing lizards, but are any of them possible? In this study, I reference peer-reviewed scientific articles, phylogenetic analysis, and paleoart studies to create biologically-sound dragons. Basing the dragon lineage on a real branch of webbed-winged scansoriopterygids—an extinct family of climbing and gliding maniraptoran dinosaurs—I explored the possible wing-structure, fire-breathing abilities, and effects of adaptive radiation on these hypothetical dragons. My research, compiled in an illustrated and easy to read book, will be both entertaining and educational. Catching the attention of readers with the idea of scientifically correct dragons, I will then take them on an enlightening journey through evolutionary biology concepts like homology, convergent evolution, and alternate evolution. It is important to educate the public on basic biology so that they better understand the scientific (or unscientific) research they are shown on media, helping to bridge the communication gap between scientists and the public.

Honors College Research Project


GLI Capstone Project




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