Sunday, February 21, 2010

Dragon of the Month: North American Wyvern

North American Wyvern
Wyvernus morcaudus

Size: 30'
Wingspan: 30'
Recognition: Bipedal body, with long barbed tail and broad wings. Bright wingspots (male)
Habitat: Alpine mountain North America
Classification: Draco/Aerodraciforme/Wyvernidae
/Wyvernus/W. morcaudus

The most dangerous species of the Wyvern family of dragons, the North American wyvern has become synonymous with danger. First recorded in 1805 in what is now Yellowstone National Park by the Lewis and Clark expedition. The animal has quickly become both hated and admired for its ferocity. Making its natural habitat in the North American Rocky Mountains stretching from Utah up into Canada, the NA wyvern is the largest predator in its environment hunting bison, elk, and caribou as it is available. The NA wyvern may live in packs of up to a dozen individuals hunting in teams, bringing down several prey at a time. The male wyvern is the primary hunter bringing kill back to the lair for females and hatchlings to feed. In the fall rutting season, the male wyvern's unmistakable wing spots grow more vibrant and are used in complex displays to attract females.
Scientists believe that the North American wyvern is a direct cousin of the extinct European wyvern, much depicted in medieval and gothic paintings. It is argued by some dragon-biologists that with the rise of humans in Europe throughout the middle ages and into the Renaissance, that the much-hunted wyvern migrated to North America. Abundant and larger game in America aloud the wyverns of the Rockies to grow to almost double their European counterparts size, becoming the largest member of the wyvern family.
The North American wyvern was hunted extensively throughout the 19th century during the expansion of the frontier. In 1913 Glacier National Park in Montana was designated the first protected habitat of the North American Wyvern, followed afterward by Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain National Parks. Illegal poaching by ranchers, as well as the decimation of the bison population (their primary food source), brought the NA wyvern to the brink of extinction. In 1965 the World Wildlife Organization placed the wyvern on the endangered species list. In 1998 the population of the wyvern had grown back to such a point that today the animal is legally hunted in certain places. There are over 100 reported wyvern attacks every year by hunters, hikers and ranchers throughout the Rocky Mountain States. Despite the dangers the North American wyvern is one of the most powerful and beloved animals in America and every year millions of people flock to National parks hoping to catch a glimpse of this magnificent animal.

Historical Imagery of the Wyvern....

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  1. I don't fully agree with your opinion that North American wyverns are directly descended from European ones. I prefer the theory that both were descended from the prehistoric Ice Age wyvern Wyvernus titanis, now extinct (though some claim there are still specimens in darkest Africa). Were the american wyvern to be descended from Europeans that recently, it would be a mere subspecies of the european. Shame the European went extinct. I blame the dragonslaying craze of medieval times.

    All the best, The Thinker

    1. I'll bet Wyvernus titanis hunted woolly mammoths, huh?