I love Marie's Brennan's books and am delighted to announce that one of my entries won her Design Your Own Dragon competition. The 'Mrtyahaiman mew' a dragon whose behaviour was partly based upon the New Zealand Kea (insert obligatory wikipedia entry here) will be mentioned in the next book in her series, the Natural History of Dragons!
A small drake measuring no more than thirty centimetres at the shoulder, this species is called the 'noisy trickster' by locals, as well as epithets not appropriate to repeat. Although they meet all other criteria, mews do not have any special property to their breath and are thus classified as draconic cousins rather than true drakes. Their name derives from their distinctive call which resembles the mew of a cat.
Mews are typically black with bronze tones to their scales, although brown and even albino specimens have been noted. Flocks of up to thirty individuals have been sighted but they are most often seen in groups of three or four. They are intelligent and resourceful creatures and are often attracted to human settlements, where they pillage shiny objects and scavenge through rubbish pits and middens. This behaviour has sometimes led to them becoming unpopular with humans.
Mews love fatty foods and have been known to land on the back of sheep to pick out pieces of flesh. There are legends of mews stampeding flocks of sheep or goats over cliffs to feast upon the remains, though this has never been reliably documented.
A gathering of mews is called a festival.
You could enter the competition three times-so I did. These are the other entries I submitted who didn't make it into the book.
Eiversch sea-drake (inspired by the New Zealand fiords and the nocturnal kakapo)
This striking dragon inhabits the steep forested fiords of far northern Eiverheim. Slate-grey in colour, with white belly and ventral wing membrane, the hill-drake is notable for its unusual mating behaviour. Males and females live separately except during the mating season, when the male climbs to the top of a mountain and builds a curved structure which resembles a small amphitheatre from loose stones. Once the structure has been completed the male drake positions himself in the centre of the amphitheatre and emits a loud booming roar to attract a female. Mature males can be easily distinguished by their throat-pouch and exceptionally large ruff, both used to amplify the call. Their mating cries can be heard for several kilometres downwind.
It is said that in times long past sailors visiting the fiords would often be kept awake by the constant roaring of the beasts, which alas are now quite rare. They feed mainly on fish and sea-mammals such as seals or small whales and are most accomplished hunters; the sight of a full grown male hill-drake swooping across the mirrored waters of the fiords to seize a porpoise in its claws is not easily forgotten.
Mrtyahaiman shadow-serpent, or Lesser Penumbra. (inspired by the Stewart Island kiwi)
A draconic cousin, this nocturnal species is small in size, measuring less than a metre in length from nose to tail. Despite this, its bones are the densest of any dragon and even small specimens can weigh upwards of a hundred kilos.
The shadow-serpent's short, squat form, with vestigial wings, a long muzzle and very short tail, is perfectly adapted to foraging through the dense forests of the Mrtyahaima lowlands. Their colouration is dark brown, though they are variably silver-grey on head and wings. This pigment is not natural to the serpent, and is thought to originate from dust-bathing. They breathe large quantities of dense smoke which assists concealment while hunting for nocturnal rodents, insects, and small birds. Like many nocturnal creatures, they have small eyes, an excellent sense of smell and superior hearing. Rarely seen, they are extremely difficult to capture due to their keen senses.
The Lesser Penumbra has the largest egg to body ratio of any dragon.