Monday, 4 June 2012

Research: Dactyls

For my ‘Serafin’ story I wanted to include a flying animal, one that embodied the tropes of other fantasy flying animals such as the dragon and the griffin.

I drew my greatest inspiration from the dragon in ‘The Neverending Story’, Falcor, I wanted something that would convey a friendliness and, I don’t know if it just me or something that is common amongst other people as well, I find that animals with fur come across as more friendly than those with scales.

Perhaps this is because we are mammals ourselves and so have an affinity with other mammals more than with amphibians or lizards, or something to do with the more common pets being cats and dogs and so we therefore have a stronger connection with these animals.

Either way I knew that my flying dragon was going to have fur. I also wanted there to be the possibility of fire-breathers, however I have linked this up with the idea that in Serafin’s world only certain people have control over the elements and so it is with the dactyls, only certain ones are able to breathe fire.

Now as for the name, this is interesting as many people would assume I simply took the last section of the word pterodactyl. Now in one aspect this does work, as there is an unconscious connection to the flying reptiles of the past; however if we break down the word pterodactyl it means ‘winged-fingers’; the part ‘ptero’ means wings and the part ‘dactyl’ actually means fingers.

My beasts do reflect this aspect in that they have great long talons, however the connection lies with the ancient dactyls of Greek mythology. There were said to lived in a great mountain and invented the art of metalworking as well as having a strong connection with healing. I wanted these beasts to have that history and connection to the earth and more specifically to a volcano. They were animals of the volcano and that is why many of them have the ability to breathe fire.

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