One of the biggest issues I come across when doing research for things (usually a combination of world-building and just-for–fun) is that all of the interesting scholarly papers – the ones that have actual data, usually – are not publicly accessible in full.
For example, Assessing dinosaur growth patterns: a microscopic revolution by Gregory M. Erickson, which is the top result I got in my search for dinosaur growth rates. Bah.
On the plus side, J has university account access to a bunch of things, like JSTOR, and I also learned through him of arXiv.org which is basically an unofficial online publication place where scientists can upload their papers even while still undergoing review. Which I had actually forgotten about until I started complaining about the paper above! Unfortunately, I think arXiv is mostly physics papers, while what I’m doing right now is biology. …Paleobiology?
OH BOY! This PDF one has a GRAPH! I need more data, though. Deinosuchus is pretty similar to a crocodile so it makes sense it’d have a similar curve – but the Maiasaura has a much more rapid initial growth. But why, is the question. Is it related to its physical structure? To being herbivorous? Something else entirely?
I’ll need to check if I can access this paper on JSTOR with J’s account, later.
….oh, forget that, I just hit the jackpot. Yesss. I think I’m going to tweak my growth curve based on this new data. Or maybe not… I think the initial growth rate should, probably, be steeper, but at the same time, I really like having the sizes sort of spread out. Maybe I’ll put more of a kink in it or something; it can level out faster after reproductive maturity. Hmm. So many thoughts. SO MANY DECISIONS.
On a tangential note, I just discovered that the reason snakes shed a layer off of their eyes as well is because they actually have a scale over their eye instead of an eyelid. Like a contact lens, except… not really.
OH MAN I JUST HAD THE BEST IDEA, okay so see one of the characteristics of my dragons is that they are super colorful (“but aren’t they invisible” yes shut up I’m talking) and you know that there is like this tradition of dragons as being treasure-hoarders, forming beds of gold and gems and suchlike, right?
So, what if – what if – that came from draconic nesting areas having a tendency to collect piles of shed scales? All of these beautiful gem-toned shiny objects in piles that you don’t really get to see up close because OH HELLO THERE IS A GIANT SCARY CREATURE GRINNING ITS FANGS AT ME RUN AWAYYYYY. There may even be a sort of semi-instinctive cultural impetus behind it, like tribal identifiers. Family lines would probably tend to have certain color patterns, so like if it’s mostly blue-greens it could be the Smith family tribe, and if it’s mostly golds then it could be the Jensen family tribe, and so on.
DID YOU KNOW: it is ridiculously difficult to find pictures of shed scales on the internet? I have yet to find any. (tangent: maybe they also use skeletal remains of prior prey in den decoration, that’d be kind of neat. Too bad they don’t have hands, or I bet they’d have a lot of craft-y stuff.)
I wonder how long a fully adult dragon can go without eating, without any major effects on its health… I don’t even know what to research for that. Ooh do you think they have messengers, I bet they have messengers, THAT EXPLAINS MY LAST DILEMMA okay we are good. Still wondering about the eating thing, though.
I wonder if they have colored eggs; I suspect not. I could make them have colored eggs, but I don’t think [spoilers redacted] so I don’t really have a sufficiently plausible excuse to hand-wave it.