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

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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

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@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.

@witchfynder_finder hmm, fish are an interesting angle. gonna look into that direction...

@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: 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 :)

@Shutsumon yeah i thought fish like a minute after i posted that and there's some good shit 👌

@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.

@witchfynder_finder the ocean is a chill place with lots of friends to hang out with there!!!!

@witchfynder_finder @chr I love the deep sea fishies ~ (mostly, some are creepy)

@chr More sci-fi artists etc need to look underwater for inspiration for alien life tbh

@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 @chr

Everything's a fish! You and I are fish! Cats are fish!

We're all fish!!! :D

@A_Staccato_Semibreve @lizardsquid @chr I mean, bony fish and tetrapods (land vertebrates) are more closely related than bony fish are to cartilaginous fish. So by cladistics, you, and I, and cats are technically fish (or else, sharks are not fish).

@A_Staccato_Semibreve @lizardsquid @chr It's kind of like, either birds are reptiles, or there's no such thing as reptiles. (I lean towards sharks are not fish and there's no such thing as reptiles, but hey.)

@lizardsquid yeah there's just a shitton of morphological diversity that you barely ever see outside of an aquarium, it's incredible

@lizardsquid @chr IIRC the field biology has given up on fish as a classification; What is or isn't called a fish is so hopelessly haphazard that you couldn't really give it meaning in the tree of life without pretty much every animal in those other categories being a fish as well.

@chr a skeleton made entirely of cartilage? Get over here

@chr what about cephalopods, molluscs, corals, sponges and crustaceans of several orders?

@troubleMoney @Efi i'm lumping them under the umbrella term of "fish" although strictly speaking "sea creatures" might be a more inclusive term

@chr want to camouflage yourself as a chunk of seaweed? and also be a dragon?

we’ve got seadragons for that too!

@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)

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