i wonder if someone here who knows a bit more about the art history of dragons can help me out with this --
what irl animal are these fin/frill type things based on? it doesn't quite match any lizard frills or fins i've found, they're usually covered in scales and have much denser spines (see 4th image). are they just an artistic flourish that hundreds of fantasy artists have converged on?
dragon fin update: apparently i was tunnel-visioning on lizards. turns out fish can have pretty rad fins
fish are heckin cool, yo
fish are cool, cuz like. they're totally different from any of the land boys. anything amphibians onward has 4 legs or leg-derived things (wings), and bugs are cool but you kinda get the gist of em after the first hundred thousand
but fish! fish can diverge wildly from your standard animal cookie cutter. want 18 fins? have we got a fish for you. want a little glow in your life? got fish for daaaays. were you lookin for a little something completely divergent from most animalia entirely? got you covered fam
@chr Honestly there was probably one artist who did it back in the day in some influential work and everyone latched onto it as the new standard because that's the way fantasy works in a lot of ways...
@witchfynder_finder i was kinda hoping this wasnt it because it's a rad as hell design and i want to find some refs i could use without feeling like i'm plagiarizing (well, anyone other than evolution)
@chr Yeah, I feel it. I definitely don't think it's taken directly from lizards, tho. Like, I'm p sure I've seen Merfolk in MtG with similar spines and it worked just as well there. It might be a weird amalgam of a few different inspirations.
@chr Yeah, that's the one! I thought it might have been zebrafish but I couldn't remember if there was a membrane or just the spines.
Dragons are highly symbolic representations. I'm not sure if it helps but you could start over here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ouroboros or with any ancient mythology about dragons.
By the way the pictures you posted rather make me think about dinosaurs representations. It could be another clue...
Dragons are fascinating :)
@chr more than anything it reminds me of the dorsal fins of some fish https://etc.usf.edu/clipart/188300/188372/188372-ten-spines-on-the-fins-of-a-bony.htm
@witchfynder_finder i'd tell you to search tentacle dragons but you're liable to find some uhhhhh risquier stuff than you might be prepared for :P
@chr Those deep-sea fangly fish give me the jibbilies, but I do like more traditional fishes and also fish-adjacent frens like cephalopods and urchins and whatnot.
@chr it's because fish should be subdivided similarly to how we subdivide land animals into birds/reptiles/mammals/insects/etc
they have lots of variety, but we just call them all.... fish
@lizardsquid yeah there's just a shitton of morphological diversity that you barely ever see outside of an aquarium, it's incredible
@chr I've always imagined that imagery of dragons is a result of early discoveries of dinosaur skeletons by our ancestors. Not sure what scientific research says on this topic though, if there is any.
@chr My guess (guesses) would be a combo some visual echo/tie in for the wings, and/or a take on the classic crests/spikes dragons have had down their necks/backs forever, OR an "organic" take on flight stuff like the tailfin/rudder on planes.
@Keltoi i think it's a combo of all of these with some heavy inspiration from fish fins (see my reply to that post)