The Best Dragon (According to Science)

Hi, this is Julián from MinuteEarth. Dragons don’t exist – but if they did – which
would be pretty cool – they’d need to conform to Earth’s biological and physical rules. So we figured we’d make a fun video about
which of these famous fantasy dragons would have the best shot at being more than just
fantasy. To rank these dragons’ believability, we’ll
start with the most egregiously unnatural characteristics of dragons and move up from
there. Look, obviously dragons breathe fire, but
we looked into it and the only thing that even comes close to that in nature is the
bombardier beetle, which fires boiling hot liquid from its butt to burn its enemies – not
exactly fire breathing. So let’s just move on to limbs. Most Western depictions of dragons, like on
the Welsh flag, have four legs and two wings for a total of six limbs. But all bony creatures on Earth evolved from
a four-limbed fish whose body is the blueprint for every other bony creature … including
a hypothetical dragon, clearly a bony creature. This would make it very unlikely for a six-limbed
dragon to evolve on Earth. That’s why some fantasy writers, filmmakers,
and game designers have used real bats, birds, and pterosaurs as models for their four-limbed
dragons. So we’re placing all these six-limbed dragons
in the bottom tier, including the Smaug from the theatrical release of the first Hobbit
film. The Smaug from the second film, however, gets
to move on, since the filmmakers removed his front legs, not because they particularly
cared about Earth’s evolutionary history, but because they thought it would make for
a more expressive performance. A wingless four-legged dragon would be accurate
too, but without magical flight like Eastern depictions of dragons, that’s basically
just a lizard. So, let’s talk about wings: animals need
them in order to fly, which means they need big chest muscles to flap their wings, which
means they need a tall ridge on their specially modified sternums called a “keel” for
the muscles to attach to. A dragon without a keel couldn’t have the
muscles needed to power fast enough flight to keep its massive body in the air. That means it’s the end of the line for
these smooth-chested beauties. But a keel alone is not enough to fly; any
creature that wants to fly also needs the right combination of weight, wing size, and
flight speed. The more a creature weights, the bigger its
wings need to be or the faster it needs to fly to generate the necessary lift to keep
it afloat. For example, penguins, which do have a keel,
could actually fly despite their comically narrow wings, but they would have to go nearly
as fast as a commercial airliner and deal with ludicrous forces on their wings. The Quetzalcoatlus pterosaur, thought to be
the largest flying animal to have ever existed, had a 12 meter wingspan, which kept its 250
kilograms aloft at a reasonable 80 Km/h speed. Naturally, we painstakingly calculated the
weights and wing sizes of all our remaining dragon contenders and found they all had wings
too small for their weight, meaning they’d need to fly at ridiculously fast speeds in
order to sustain flight and the forces involved would destroy any flesh and bone based wings. Wait, so NOBODY wins? Well … among our remaining candidates, the
most realistic has to be the one with the biggest wings in relation to their weight. And the winner is: the Hungarian Horntail
from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It has four limbs, a keel to hold its muscles,
and the biggest wings in relation to its weight. Now, whether or not you could ride it … we
could get into that, but we don’t want this video to drag-on. Did someone just make a claw-some pun?! Hey Matt! What brings you over to MinuteEarth from the
Extra Credits side of the internet? Well Julián, you got me thinking… if the
existence of these fantastical beasts are scientifically improbable at best… then
how did tons of cultures around the world each come up with Dragons myths before every
having contact with one another? Good question! Say, you wouldn’t happen to… oh I don’t
know… have any idea where one could find a youtube video discussing that very topic
would you? You know, I just might! If you’re fired up about dragons like I
am, then come fly by the Extra Mythology campfire, where we’ll talk all about the Dragon myths
of various cultures, human psychology, dinosaurs, and even the politics of Dragons! Political dragons eh? Hope they can let “Bagons be Bagons”… Did we just become best friends?


  1. MinuteEarth

    November 4, 2019 at 5:46 pm

    We had a blast working with our friends at ExtraCredits! Go learn about the origin of dragons in their video, it's quite the fantastic tail :

  2. Umbra Wolf

    November 9, 2019 at 1:09 am

    Don’t all dragons have four legs and two wings, while it’s wyverns who have the bat like body?

  3. Sierra D

    November 9, 2019 at 1:14 am

    I see Charizard, I click

    p.s, Charizard is not a dragon though XD

  4. Elemental Bahamut

    November 9, 2019 at 1:16 am

    Sad wyvern noises*

  5. John Wayne

    November 9, 2019 at 1:19 am

    -"The Best Dragon(According to SCIENCE)"
    -Not a single Flying Wyvern or even a flying Bird Wyvern from Monster Hunter but rather TWO pokemons

    Cries in Khezu

  6. Peter Ligon

    November 9, 2019 at 1:21 am

    MinuteEarth: "We'll automatically rule out dragons that breathe fire because that's not physically possible"
    Also MinuteEarth: "The winner for most real dragon is a fire-breathing one"

  7. Paolo Baker

    November 9, 2019 at 1:24 am

    Sees Toothless: clicked immediately

  8. Kendra Hein

    November 9, 2019 at 1:25 am

    I think that while what you said about the four legs could be true, what if they evolved from a completely different evolutionary line that wasn’t known about, or what if they are from a different world/dimension where things evolved differently than they did here on earth?

  9. Tsuki no Otaku

    November 9, 2019 at 1:33 am

    "We don't want to get this video to drag on."

    This video isn't even 5 minutes long…

  10. That Weirdo Named Amber

    November 9, 2019 at 1:36 am

    I am sorry sir but you forgot the most purple dragon of them all

    *I’m talking Spike of course 😤

  11. Atlanta The Dragon

    November 9, 2019 at 1:59 am

    Sorry but I’m the most realistic dragon because I exist

  12. 1st Captain Raldoron

    November 9, 2019 at 2:02 am

    If it has four limbs it’s not a dragon. It’s a wyvern.

  13. Hoodii

    November 9, 2019 at 2:17 am

    If it only has 2 legs and not 4 it's not a Dragon, it's a Wyvern

  14. jacky muffles

    November 9, 2019 at 2:18 am

    Loved it.

  15. Jax YT

    November 9, 2019 at 2:20 am

    Smaug isn’t from earth, he’s from Arda, specifically the continent of middle earth. I’m pretty sure evolution works differently there.

  16. Arcilion Venuture Samagoar Gumich

    November 9, 2019 at 2:20 am

    Don't forget, Add name Legend Spyro in the list of dragon. He's have ability elemental Power and elemental breath like Ice, electric and Earth.

  17. Esteban Singh

    November 9, 2019 at 2:22 am

    Like dinosaurs, real dragons would be birds, not reptiles. Most dragons are depicted as clever as a creature can get, and birds outsmart reptiles anytime. So their wings could be batlike, but since they would be feathery a bird wing would make more sense

  18. JL HT

    November 9, 2019 at 2:26 am

    My vote is for Trogdor the Burninator

  19. KawallaBair

    November 9, 2019 at 2:27 am

    Bottom tier wins, since all the dragons with 4 limbs get excluded on technicalities (They're all wyverns)

  20. Maverick Pierce

    November 9, 2019 at 2:30 am

    I would want a dragonite

  21. Tristen Elkins

    November 9, 2019 at 2:40 am

    There is a documentary of how dragons could exist also let me believe man

  22. JAcOB DAILEγ

    November 9, 2019 at 2:42 am

    But how do you know that if dragons existed physics would be different?

  23. fauz rizky

    November 9, 2019 at 2:42 am

    so a penguin with jetpack

  24. Helios

    November 9, 2019 at 2:43 am

    There's one problem with this whole graph only wyverns have a set of wings and a pair of legs, a dragon is more like the one on the Welsh flag

  25. AgentMico Petpaqua

    November 9, 2019 at 2:46 am

    Come on we all know that thoru is the best dragon

  26. 佐藤永顕

    November 9, 2019 at 2:47 am

    OK… looks like Wyverns are the most practical.

  27. Marylane Inigo

    November 9, 2019 at 2:48 am

    What about Ghidora

  28. Cosmic Gam3r

    November 9, 2019 at 2:49 am

    Jim to Dwight:


  29. rockkiller124

    November 9, 2019 at 2:52 am

    But what about elder dragons from MH franchise

  30. CraniumAmbiguity

    November 9, 2019 at 2:54 am

    This kinda bugs me. In terms of name classification what differentiates a dragon and a wyvern is that a dragon has 4 leggs while the wyvern has 2 legs and uses it's wings like frontal legs. So early on you eliminated all dragons because the wouldn't have evolved from a certain fish.

  31. Sherrie Ou

    November 9, 2019 at 2:55 am

    Wait how about wings of fire?!

  32. Aiden Neally

    November 9, 2019 at 2:58 am

    It looks like everyone in the comments section is an expert in the taxonomy of a mythical creature calling all these 4 limbed dragons wyverns, when that's stupid because that definition only really applies to D and D and not every fantasy world out there.

  33. Bruce Vial

    November 9, 2019 at 3:05 am

    7 externals appendages, 4 legs, 2 wings and a tail

  34. Mohit Shetty

    November 9, 2019 at 3:06 am

    Komodo dragon

  35. Christopher Longsworth

    November 9, 2019 at 3:09 am

    it is actually biologically possible for an organism to breathe fire. it needs to store methane produced by digestion in a chamber and then swallow a rock and keep it near its throat, when it is squeezed a spark is produced which could be used to ignit the methane as it shoots it out of its mouth.

  36. The Ultimate

    November 9, 2019 at 3:16 am

    So could Ghidorah (from Godzilla king of the monsters) be real?

  37. ємρту нυѕк

    November 9, 2019 at 3:17 am

    I don't pride myself on my mythical creatures knowledge but I just can't help but point out the fact that you called the Hungarian Horntail a dragon despite the fact that a dragon has four legs and two wings, the Horntail on the other hand is a wyvern (two legs and two wing/wing arms). If your looking for realistic dragons or wyverns, you should check out a series called Monster Hunter because the folks over at Capcom and the Monster Hunter team make some wicked and believable designs for their creatures.

    Side note: Stay away from extra credits, those guys aren't as factual as they would appear to be.

  38. first-off finally

    November 9, 2019 at 3:17 am

    What about wings of fire, can we get a part two?

  39. Graham Russel

    November 9, 2019 at 3:19 am

    Aye typhoomerang

  40. Thomas Layman

    November 9, 2019 at 3:21 am

    Ok so how big do the wings need to be if it were, say, 20ish feet long? Do you have an equation you can share?

  41. Levent HERO

    November 9, 2019 at 3:22 am

    The most unrealistic dragon I have ever Seen IS borrelsword dragon from yu gi oh

  42. Zackary Smith

    November 9, 2019 at 3:22 am

    Toothless and the Ender Dragon got put in last because it just "had extra limbs", you take that back before I remove some of yours. THEY ARE PURE CREATURES AND THEY DIDN'T DESERVE THIS

  43. Balyeet

    November 9, 2019 at 3:26 am

    Rydon would check all these boxes would he not

  44. Daniel Palma

    November 9, 2019 at 3:29 am

    They forgot Ridley from Nintendo's Metroid

  45. Frost Wolf

    November 9, 2019 at 3:32 am

    Hold on all the six limped dragons are actual dragons the rest are wyverns

  46. Gem Girl

    November 9, 2019 at 3:33 am

    What about the dragon with the massive wings that spins around to take off from the HTTYD TV series. I forgot the name.

  47. CoolFighter

    November 9, 2019 at 3:36 am

    where is drogon, viserion, and rhaegal???

  48. COOLER 59

    November 9, 2019 at 3:39 am

    What! Blue eyes white dragon isn’t here? That dragon is a icon, are you high? How could you forget that one 👎🏻

  49. Mne

    November 9, 2019 at 3:42 am

    There you are, calculating the wing spans of your flying lizards, when all of a sudden: You're a dragon.

  50. Sylvester The Cat

    November 9, 2019 at 3:44 am

    what about komodo dragons

  51. BudgieGryphon

    November 9, 2019 at 3:47 am

    A little disappointed that dragons from WoF weren’t on the list, but there are 10 species so that’s understandable.
    (They happen to have keels and large wings, so they’re fairly realistic. Also not all of them breathe fire, so I guess RainWings are the most realistic?)

  52. Katsunai Tse-kun

    November 9, 2019 at 3:47 am

    So the best possible dragons aren't even dragons??
    Wyverns for the win.

  53. Gray Christian

    November 9, 2019 at 3:48 am

    I'm no expert on dragons, but I'm pretty sure the dragons that made it into the top category are actually wyverns.

  54. MatthewTheTNT

    November 9, 2019 at 3:48 am

    Wings of fire…

  55. David Fatman

    November 9, 2019 at 3:50 am

    Noivern actually isn’t smooth chested

  56. Akshay Chandrashekaran

    November 9, 2019 at 3:52 am

    When minuteearth becomes

  57. David Fatman

    November 9, 2019 at 3:53 am

    Which bird Pokémon can actually fly

  58. ImJustA Human

    November 9, 2019 at 3:54 am

    The most realistic dragon is…

    a wyvern. Thats what they said

  59. Its _Skullsy

    November 9, 2019 at 3:55 am


  60. TheMadLeprechaun

    November 9, 2019 at 4:03 am

    In actuality, dinosaurs used to be called dragons.

  61. The Bandana Bandit

    November 9, 2019 at 4:19 am

    Absolutely true, great video.😊

  62. Tuah Darmawan

    November 9, 2019 at 4:20 am

    You forgot king ghidorah

  63. wretched17

    November 9, 2019 at 4:21 am

    what aboot the dragons from reign of fire?

  64. Kay Thwe Khin

    November 9, 2019 at 4:22 am

    Wrong. The best dragon is Alolan Exeggutor

  65. Landon Delong

    November 9, 2019 at 4:23 am

    wait a minute i just noticed, the wings on the hungarian are just horrible in wing size and would probably need intense speed that it could not reach to fly. Also smaug has wings that in the desolation of smaug are almost two times his body and could easily carry him throught he air. But i do agree with the rest its just the hungarian and smaug that got me all riled up.

  66. Andrew Clark

    November 9, 2019 at 4:23 am

    Did you do the dragon from the mockumentary from A Fantasy Made Real?

  67. Zack ORiely

    November 9, 2019 at 4:26 am

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha best pun ever omg

  68. The guy who likes hotdog with sauce

    November 9, 2019 at 4:29 am

    Is King Ghidorah a dragon? Because i am really confused of it if is a alien or dragon (like example;a hydra is three-headed monster like ghidorah but they also called ghidorah alien)

  69. coolu-ya-cu games

    November 9, 2019 at 4:31 am

    No monster Hunter dragons ….

  70. HeyImJP

    November 9, 2019 at 4:35 am

    0:25 Charizard IS NOT A DRAGON TYPE! It only picks up a dragon type when it undergoes Mega-X evolution – which only lasts as long as a battle does. My inner nerd is bothered by that.

  71. Ren Senju

    November 9, 2019 at 4:38 am

    Screw you
    Dragon it's Real >:v

  72. Bob Bobber

    November 9, 2019 at 4:39 am

    Except some of those dragons come from other worlds which didn't have necessarily evolved the same way.
    So the 4 limbs thins is not that relevant in my opinion.
    Anyways, nice job for that video.

  73. mlatu315

    November 9, 2019 at 4:41 am

    I came into this video hoping to hear how science views the flight of dragons dragons. I was disappointed

  74. Aveoki

    November 9, 2019 at 4:42 am

    Wait till they find out monster hunter exsists

  75. transfactory

    November 9, 2019 at 4:44 am

    Who is saying dragons never evolved from insects and more importantly who said charizard is a dragon

  76. Fred Wulf

    November 9, 2019 at 4:45 am

    Mushu probably the most real then. Tiny flightless fire breather

  77. Bionic Dragon

    November 9, 2019 at 4:54 am

    Dragons DO exist. I have my own dragon story. The first time I saw the dragon, I was about 5 years old, the dragon was pitch black, about three feet long with a long neck and large head that is probably filled mostly with brains, and he had the cutest golden-yellow eyes ever. I’d say that his eyes were about the size of tennis balls with large pupils. Clearly a nocturnal animal. He appeared from behind a shed in my back yard. I feel a strange connection to him. It’s impossible to explain what it felt like, but I felt quite a bit of fear, which was strange because I was not acting fearful at all. It was as if I was feeling the dragon’s emotions as well as mine. I feel paralyzed. I take one step and he just turns around runs away so fast that I could not even see what happened, but he made a noise similar to jumping into a pile of raked leaves in the fall. But this happened in summer, and there were almost no leaves on the ground, so that noise was probably from his tail whipping around and dragging along the ground as he turned and ran. Since I was only 5 years old, I had no idea what a dragon was, so I thought that he was a Black Racer snake. Fast forward a few years and I’m playing Mario Cart in my living room when the motion sensor light turns on, and when the light turns off, I see a silhouette of the very same dragon standing right in front of my door. And when I looked at him, I felt that same connection that I did when I first saw him. He was now around 5 feet long. The way that my front door is set up, is there is a walkway leading from the driveway to the door and the garage wall to the right and a fence on the left. So, since I did not see the dragon when the motion sensor light activated means that he jumped over the fence and his tail triggered the motion sensor. I sat in my chair just staring at him, then, about 30 seconds later, I feel the connection end as the dragon disappears, probably jumping over the fence again. I still had no idea what a dragon was, so I thought he was an alien from outer space. A few years later and I am now just about to start 6th grade in a few weeks. I just got home from a family Disney World trip. It was late at night, and we just pulled up to the gate and my mom got out of the car to open it. I also got out because I didn’t want to be sitting down for any longer, and I feel the connection. I look to my left and I see the dragon, now about 30 feet long, standing in the middle of the road (my house is on a dirt road and is a different house than the one the one that the first two sightings happened in) the same thing happened as with the previous sightings. But, this time I was able to see much more of him since I was standing less than 6 feet away from him. I first noticed his two legs, they are very powerful looking with large talon-like feet. I then noticed his wings. And they are HUGE! I could not see how big they really were because of how dark it was outside and because he had his wings were folded up. Like many European dragons, he used his wings as legs, and due to his large wingspan, this made him stand in an upright, regal-looking position. I was also able to see a little bit of what his head looked like. His head stayed mostly the same except for two large horns that pointed straight back and angled upwards by about 10 degrees. I feel the connection end and I suddenly start waking to my house. It was as if the dragon told me to leave. After this sighting, I decided to name the dragon “Shadow.” I was not the only one to see Shadow. My neighbor saw him two. I talked to him about it the next day, and he described seeing the same thing that I did. Then, when I was in 8th grade, it was about 2:00 too 3:00pm on a Saturday, and I was in my mom’s car. Then I feel the connection and I look out the window and I see a dragon appear emerge from behind a low-altitude cloud, flying and a speed of over 100 miles per hour. This dragon was not Shadow, despite looking exactly like him. Then, Shadow emerges from behind the same cloud and I could finally get a good look at his wings. His wings were MUCH bigger than I thought they were. Each wing was bigger than his length from nose to tail. The wings were shaped similarly to a swift’s wings, which are built for speed without sacrificing agility. So, how did I know which dragon was Shadow? It was because of the connection. I was able to tell which dragon was establishing a connection with my, and that one was Shadow. So, who was the other dragon? I’ll get to that soon. Fast forward to the beginning of 2019. It was winter break. I am riding my bike up and down the dirt road that my house is on and a stop at the canal at the end. I walk over the edge and I hear something jump. I look to my left and I see a white animal, about 3 feet long jump into the water, making a big splash and just disappearing. Instantly, I realized the situation. The other dragon was a female, which I had named “Umbra,” and the white creature was a baby dragon which is will either name “Luna” or “Sol” depending on if it’s male or female. A few months later, I was helping my neighbor clean up after Hurricane Dorian messed up his yard, and I asked him if he has seen Shadow recently. He said yes. He was helping his dad prepare for hurricane Dorian by taking fallen branches out to the street when he saw Shadow, and a small, white dragon with pinkish-red eyes standing right next to him. Shadow then said telepathically “Come with me.” Then he flew way with the baby following him. I knew that he was capable of doing this since I saw him after my Disney World visit. I felt like he was trying to say something to me, but I can’t remember what he was saying. So, telepathic communication is MUCH crazier than how it is depicted in movies. It’s not like you’re hearing someone speaking. Here’s a good way to imagine it. Think of a sentence and say it in your mind. That is more what it is like. But there is still more. Not too long ago, I was watching a TV show about aliens where some people were interviewing a retired US army soldier who claims to have communicated telepathically with an alien. He said that the US army had s division of medics who are trained to speak telepathically. The reason for this is, many of the patients have been hit with shrapnel, or have multiple bullet wounds are in too much pain to be able to talk. However there is a downside to speaking telepathically. You feel whatever the other person is feeling along with what you are feeling. So, in the case of the medics they are also trained to deal with the unbearable pain of their patients. As for me, it instantly answered my question about what I was feeling whenever I saw Shadow. I was feeling his feelings, which explains the fear I felt in the first sighting. I am still searching for Shadow. When I find him, I’ll make a video about it and you can see Shadow, Umbra, and their albino baby. And I might even get a 360 degree camera and attach it to Shadow, so you can experience what it’s like to ride a dragon

  78. Kevin Meng

    November 9, 2019 at 4:54 am

    Game of thrones dragons have Valyrian steel wings!

  79. Stegotyranno 420

    November 9, 2019 at 4:55 am

    Dinosaurs and pterosaurs:are we a joke to you

  80. Shahriar Noyon

    November 9, 2019 at 4:55 am

    A dragon has 4 legs a wyvern has 2 so the hobbit in the last zone is a wyvern

  81. Xoh Official

    November 9, 2019 at 4:58 am

    How dare u forget blue eyes white dragon

  82. Protoman StarForce

    November 9, 2019 at 4:59 am

    Extra Credit has lost some of its lusters since the older days.

  83. Airil The_gacha_Devil

    November 9, 2019 at 4:59 am

    Lego Ninjago dragon?

  84. Spinomania

    November 9, 2019 at 5:01 am

    You know, I'm surprised they didn't put in rathalos or rathian here

  85. Nathish Vel

    November 9, 2019 at 5:06 am

    The title of best dragon was a plot twist! Even as a Harry Potter fan! Didn't even think it was in consideration. Anyway fun fact: the fire-causing liquid spitting was only in the movie; in the book it was regular fire breathing.

  86. Jay

    November 9, 2019 at 5:08 am

    The dragons from Reign of Fire are not happy to be left off this list: Two glands in the mouth expel hypergolic chemicals, four-limbed, a keel, massive wings.

  87. ChronXuki

    November 9, 2019 at 5:10 am

    Ewww Sonic trailer as Ad

  88. outer saiyan

    November 9, 2019 at 5:11 am

    Poor charizard, man tried to be a dragon in a different kind of way and failed instantly

  89. Liam Wilson

    November 9, 2019 at 5:14 am

    I don’t understand why people are saying Charizard isn’t a dragon? If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck, it’s a duck (same applies with dragons). Just bc it’s type isn’t dragon doesn’t not make it a dragon. Yanmega and Alolan exegutor are not dragons but have the type.

  90. Alejandro Lizama

    November 9, 2019 at 5:14 am

    The most realistic dragons to me are those from the Monster Hunter Franchise

  91. Hunter Ryan

    November 9, 2019 at 5:20 am

    Just a side note:
    If it has four legs and two wings it's a dragon.
    If it has two legs and two wings it's a wyvern.

  92. I’m bewozer

    November 9, 2019 at 5:20 am

    Where’s my boi Rathalos? I’m disappointed

  93. nxedgt

    November 9, 2019 at 5:26 am

    Almost every thing in monster hunter kinda applies to this video. The amount of six limbed dragons in the game. Just boi

  94. Jabo01

    November 9, 2019 at 5:33 am

    Yeah, that’s a wyvern, not a dragon

  95. Jacob French

    November 9, 2019 at 5:33 am

    Charizard is not a dragon. It's a fire-type not a dragon-type. It LOOKS like a dragon but it isn't.

  96. Caden Berry

    November 9, 2019 at 5:33 am

    Wheres my rathalos

  97. Mar2d2 *

    November 9, 2019 at 5:35 am

    why no alduin?

  98. Theonlyrebel

    November 9, 2019 at 5:36 am

    Not to bash this video but 4 limbed "dragons" aren't dragons at all but actually wyverns dragons have 4 and wings wyvern have 2 and wings

  99. Sir Benzington

    November 9, 2019 at 5:36 am

    How dare you not include deathwing

  100. Dejvi Rroku

    November 9, 2019 at 5:36 am

    What about king Ghidorah from the movie Godzilla king of the monsters

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