So Thrombin and I (hopefully) finally finished...
Morphs [Oak Catalog #]
- Druddigon [# 621] Squalidosaurus fidelus
, more commonly known as Druddigon, is a three-toed, predominantly blue-scaled bipedal draconic creature with a hunched body with prominent red spikes running along its back and arms that typically stands 160 centimeters in height and weighs just under 140 kilograms as a mature adult. Unlike most other bipedal creatures of similar physiology, Druddigon have an unusually large arm length compared to the rest of its body. Druddigon often move little and often appear completely still, as though they were statues.
When they do move, they typically walk with a leisurely, shuffling gait, swinging their tail side-to-side. When cornered and hunting however, they can exhibit short bursts of speed through quadrupedal movement and by flapping their wings. Druddigon may appear a clumsy, lethargic and highly visible hunter with unwieldy limbs but it is in fact, like all dragons, an extremely able and versatile predator. The arms are well-adapted to climbing trees and rocks, which serves them well in reaching good ambush positions. A Druddigon's head is entirely covered by an extremely tough layer of scale, bone and hardened skin, which extends into a frill to protect the neck as well. The rest of the body is covered with rough scales, individuals from one particular subspecies possessing scales with a structure resemble that of a Sharpedo's scales. The belly, usually the softest part of a dragon’s body, is covered with a rock-hard, vaguely plate-like region of tan hide to protect the underside when climbing. Druddigon have small, thistle-shaped wings which are not capable of being used in true flight. Rather, the wings are usually used to absorb heat from the sun, to provide additional momentum when engaging in activities such as wing-assisted inclined running, and to control its trajectory when gliding from great heights. Their somewhat stubby tail provides a counterbalance when walking. Druddigon have large eyes which provide excellent, all-round vision even in low-light conditions.
In rare cases, individuals exhibiting a mutant phenotype with green scales, orange head scales and spikes, and a grayish region over their abdomens have been recorded, and are sought after within some training circles.
Druddigon are well-known for their extreme sensitivity to cold temperatures. At ambient temperatures as high as 283K, Druddigon's metabolic rate begins to slow to a level typically exhibited among hibernating Pokemon. The most striking changes occur in the scales, where thermal conductance decreases drastically as the temperature drops. The muscles holding the scales in place become rigid, tightly locking the insulating layer of scales in place at the expense of rendering the Pokemon immobile. Chromatically, the scales take on a discoloured and faded hue, giving Druddigon an appearance akin to a stone statue. The only significant heat exchange occurs in the orifices - the eyes are shut tight. In this manner, Druddigon can survive being placed in temperatures as low as 210K for months, emerging from this state completely unharmed. This mechanism acts as a fast-reacting protection against the cold, protecting Druddigon against often unpredictable weather patterns, however, it is not fast enough to block large, sudden drops in temperature (such as in the case of being struck by an Ice-Type move).
Druddigon are famous for being particularly fond of shiny objects, which is rather odd considering the difficulty of observing lustre in the dark areas where it frequents. Their nests are regularly seeked out and raided by both Trainers and archeologists hoping to obtain valuable finds. Raiding their nests is legal in most regions as long as the owner and/or eggs are absent. Three distinct morphs exist, one with a scale structure similar to that in Sharpedo, one with elemental sacs that produce powerful bursts of attacks that become too short to have any debilitating effects and another with "sweat" glands which are dormant among individuals from the other submorphs that secrete and integrate an acrid chemical into the Druddigon's attacks.
Druddigon are typically encountered living in caves, as their eyes are adapted to darkness and their hunched, well-armoured body is well-suited to cavernous environments. They are rarely ever seen, however, due to their typical lack of mobility and their generally shy temperament. Most sightings that occur within cave environments involve individuals darting across cavern floors, in pursuit of prey that managed to escape an ambush. Druddigon populations appear to be concentrated within Unova, the most stable currently known population consists of a colony that resides within Unova's Dragonspiral Tower and its immediate surroundings.
Druddigon are typically solitary, ambush predators, with individuals in populations in areas with low or otherwise stressed populations of prey creatures exhibiting a greater consumption of plant matter. They use their flexible, long arms and spiked feet to climb to higher, hard-to-spot positions such as in trees and on rocky cliffs, which hide their bright colours, although they sometimes hide in tall grass as well. When prey passes by, Druddigon jumps down onto its target, subdues it, and then kills it with a single bite to the neck. The wings and tail stabilize the body while gliding. They do not always succeed, however, and when they miss their target, a short chase usually ensures. Druddigon that reside near bodies of water have been frequently recorded fishing in low-light conditions and their long arms are particularly suited to grabbing Basculin and aquatic prey from the water.
Unlike most Dragons, Druddigon are generally passive and apathetic to their surroundings when not disturbed. Still, they often react badly to persistent attempts to violate their personal space. Young children may become fascinated with their stillness and bright colours and may try to prod it or otherwise annoy it to get it to move. This should be avoided completely as Druddigon posseses the ability to use a range of biting, clawing, and tackling techniques that are capable of inflicting severe injuries.
Druddigon are typically not known to chase down harassing entities, however, if attacked by a Druddigon, it is generally advisable to back away from it quickly. It should be noted that if a Druddigon is repeatedly pestered, it may become annoyed enough to unleash a furious, all-out rage at the offender. Trainers handling Druddigon with exceptionally rough skin should exercise care when touching it; special training gauntlets are highly recommended as softer hand protection is easily damaged by the scales. Even Druddigon with smoother skin are not especially huggable due to the numerous larger spikes protruding from its body. If a Druddigon is present or near its nest, it is best not to disturb the nest. Attempting to steal the trinklets it is so fond of collecting or any eggs present will trigger a violent rage where it will use everything in its arsenal to attack the thief, chasing him down until the stolen items are retrieved.
The Druddigon at the Dragonspiral Tower are very territorial and signs have been erected near the vicinity's entrances warning potential trespassers of their unusual attachment and defensiveness towards the tower. While still rather passive and nonviolent when not disturbed, Druddigon at Dragonspiral Tower are much more eager to chase down offenders and regularly attack en masse. Party sizes in these group attacks typically range from 10-20 Druddigon, though mobs with up to 150 individuals have been reported, and assaults by hordes of 40-60 dragons have been recorded with relative frequency. They show incredible offensive coordination that is unmatched among wild Pokemon. The first dragons that reach the victims attempt to tire out and cripple them, stalling for time until more arrive. A single especially strong dragon attempts to draw attacks to itself while the rest bite and slash at the unwary target. This mobbing technique is typically referred to as "tanking." As they attack, they constantly emit howls and roars that raise the aggressiveness of their fellow dragons. As more dragons arrive, the mob steadily becomes more violent, directly attacking the target rather than employing more complex techniques, culminating in a chaotic, frenzied melee. Escaping from the mob is difficult and defeating it though battle is almost impossible for a single Trainer. For this reason, they are much more dangerous than other wild Druddigon, and, for that matter, most other wild Pokemon, and should not be underestimated or offended under any circumstances. Unfortunately, these Druddigon are also less hesitant to engage in hostile behavior and are known to attack apparently due to loud, destructive or chaotic human activity in their habitat, even if they were not directly attacked themselves.
It is recommended to read up and follow the regulations, warnings and entry procedures pertinent to the Dragonspiral Tower and obtain permission to enter the area before actually attempting to enter it, which has a long history of deaths and serious injuries have occurring due to hostile encounters between humans and Druddigon. Although such incidents are now sparse due to the lack of industrial activity in the area and skilled Rangers patrolling the area, they still occur periodically.
Druddigon in the wild reach sexual maturity very quickly, in about two years. However, a Druddigon may not mate until it is about eight to ten years of age. Druddigon do not have a specific mating period. Male Druddigon wrestle over a desirable female with the winner usually being the older dragon, who will be bigger and stronger. Peculiarly, this practice appears to typically follow with a battle between the female and the victorious male, with the vast majority of observed female Druddigon only accepting suitors capable of defeating her in battle as mates.
Individuals from colony in Dragonspiral Tower generally exhibit a very different mating behaviour. They do have a mating period in early spring, which occurs every two to three years depending on available food supply and the colony's population. Nurses and their charges do not engage in mating. There is no ritualised fighting involved and it appears that the colony members decide on their mate in an entirely arbitrary fashion. It should be noted that during these mating periods, small numbers of female Druddigon will sojourn to sites near Twist Mountains to engage in courtship and mate with Druddigon from outside their colony before returning with any eggs.
In captivity, Druddigon have been demonstrated to be capable of breeding with a range of other creatures. Despite this, the practice of interspecies courtship and breeding in wild settings appears to be virtually non-existent.
In their native cavernous environment, Druddigon typically lead a semi-solitary existence, with individuals exhibiting few grouping behaviors beyond behaviors associated with mating or caring for offspring. Females typically care for their young for between 12-16 months after hatching, and will drive off any straggling offspring that attempt to remain around her den for extended amounts of time beyond this period. After leaving their mother's den, Druddigon typically group themselves into loose groups of 2-3, typically consisting of siblings or acquaintances, which typically dissolve by the time a Druddigon has fully matured in its 36th month alive.
One facet of Druddigon behavior of interest to biologists is the significant behavioral divergence exhibited by members of a colony of about 5000 individuals living in and around the vicinity of Unova's Dragonspiral Tower. Unlike most other Druddigon (and indeed, most other draconic creatures) the population at the Dragonspiral Tower consists of a single eusocial colony as opposed to a collection of semi-solitary individuals. Druddigon are as a result the only known species of draconic creatures to exhibit a large-scale social structure. There are indications that the colony was domesticated by those who built the Tower and used as guardians along with Golett and Golurk, as evidenced in the frescoes and murals etched on the Tower’s interiors. Individuals within Dragonspiral Tower's colony also exhibit strong sentinel tendencies towards the tower and its surroundings, with many aspects of the anomalous behaviour exhibited by individuals from this colony directed towards the protection of the tower. It has been argued by some researchers that these tendencies evidence that the social behaviour of the Druddigon at the Dragonspiral Tower is not natural, but was rather engendered by humans. However, as there are currently no known human groups that have maintained over the entire colony and as the colony has maintained the same behavioural traits without human intervention since it was first recorded hundreds of years ago, the colony is now widely considered to be naturally social.
The social structure and behavior of the colony at the Dragonspiral Tower is well-documented thanks to extensive research done by a number of Pokemon researchers, most prominently in a behavioral study conducted by Professor Juniper et al. The colony exercises division of labour and possesses a highly developed social hierarchy. Mature adults form a large part of the colony and are responsible for the hunting of food and the maintenance of the colony’s burrow networks. As with all draconic Pokémon, Druddigon generally grow more powerful with age. This has important implications for an eusocial colony. There is a general pecking order topped by the eldest members of the colony, although individual experience and membership within caste-like structures also influence the hierarchy of Dragonspiral Tower's Druddigon.
Both mature and immature adults can often be found stowed away inconspicuously among the rubble in the vast outer and inner regions of the Tower, interior tower architecture such as mezzanines, atria and alcoves. During all seasons aside from winter, Druddigon can also be observed along Dragonspiral Tower's moat and among the trees and grass in the surrounding forest, acting as apparent sentinels and often standing completely still save for the occasional movement of the head.
While passive at first, they react strongly by mobbing to human interference among and around the ruins, especially chaotic and/or noisy activity such as excavation, construction, logging, Trainer battles and interestingly, excessive capture of the Golett and Mienfoo cohabiting the area. The Druddigon appear to be much more sensitive if the activities are in closer proximity to the Tower. When an individual decides to open hostilities, it first immobilizes the foes with a menacing glare, then lets out a signal roar to call for reinforcements, regardless of the actual numerical strength of its opposition. Other Druddigon in the immediate area then come out of their sentinel positions and descend upon the hapless target(s) en masse. The area has a long history of timber and construction companies hoping to exploit the virgin forests, careless archeological teams attempting to excavate the ruins, as well as tourism agencies wishing to conduct tours have all been constantly and violently harassed by the colony. For this reason, the forest is now a protected area and the Tower itself is off-limits to most people. Interestingly, younger Druddigon in the fringe parts of the forest may occasionally challenge Trainers to a single battle without calling for help and appear to be more willing to be captured if defeated, much like other wild Pokemon. There appears to be a positive correlation between an individual's age and the degree of apathy that he/she exhibits towards human activity in the forest around Dragonspiral Tower. The oldest and most powerful members of the colony, which reside in the deeper regions of the Tower appear to be extremely hesitant to move from their positions and typically do not directly engage humans.
Unlike typical Druddigon, the elder members of Dragonspiral Tower's colony and some younger males appear to raise the colony's young, rather than their parents. These Druddigon are known as "nurses" and do not appear to participate in breeding. Observations of interactions among individuals from the colony suggest that these nurses occupy a fairly high position in the colony’s overall hierarchy. The Dragonspiral Tower's colony appears to engage in mass breeding in the forest surrounding the tower every two or three years in spring, with some activity continuing on into mid-summer. After breeding, the parent Druddigon deposit the eggs in the designated nest area, where the nurse Druddigon incubate and guard them. When the young hatch, they are fed and taken care of by the nurses, with a single nurse exclusively attending to certain groups of individuals.
Soon after the young hatch, the nurses mark the already jagged crown of all the newly-hatched dragons via a combination of markings made by heat, claw impressions, and excising small portions of the spikes on hatchlings' heads typically referred to as a "crown". Each Druddigon has a uniquely-made crown which serves as a marking of individuality, while maintaining cohesion to an overall pattern that serves as an indicator of an individual's appointed role, with over 20 distinct patterns recorded. Druddigon in the colony can recall the markings of all of the colony’s members that they have encountered and the older, more powerful ones often hold their heads up high to display their crown and establish their dominance over weaker or lower individuals. When they are able to walk, the young attach themselves to the nurse that took care of them, although they will sometimes wander far from their nurse.
Over the course of about three months, the nurse teaches his/her charges how to hunt, climb and coordinate with the rest of the colony. Unlike their out-of-colony counterparts, parent Druddigon in and around Dragonspiral Tower rarely directly interact with their young. The role of the nurse is crucial in maintaining the social structure of the colony. Young Druddigon from around Dragonspiral Tower which have been captured within the first month of their lives show markedly different behavior from those in the colony, such an unwillingness to cooperate and interact with the other Druddigon, although they sometimes still gravitate towards the Dragonspiral Tower. When captive young individuals native to Dragonspiral Tower's colony are released back into their habitat, some individuals seamlessly integrate back into the colony under the wings of their nurses while others do not return to the colony, seeking out caves in nearby Twist Mountain and preferring to live a solitary lifestyle.
The rest of the elderly dragons are concentrated near or on the middle floors of the Tower. They do not appear to be responsible for the young, nor do they actively engage threats called by other Druddigon. In fact, they rarely interact with the other individuals of the colony, which are concentrated on the lower floors.
These oldest members of the colony have been observed to interact with the other two species inhabiting the Tower – Golett/Golurk and Mienfoo/Mienshao. They communicate with the former through sound, with the ghosts emitting staccato speech-like patterns and the Druddigon grunting and growling. Concerning Mienfoo, both parties typically do not make any audible or visible signals but rather appear to communicate through what is believed to be a telepathic process. These Mienfoo feed the colony's elder dragons (rather than the hunter dragons) and keep them active throughout winter by slowly releasing energy deep within their bodies while near them, while assuming hunting and defensive duties on behalf of the colony around Dragonspiral Tower's periphery that are rendered impossible to carry out due to these creatures' poor tolerance for cold temperatures. In return, the colony provides training with its younger individuals and protects the Mienfoo from would-be attackers and human interference. Dragonspiral Tower's Druddigon colony also appears to maintain a relationship with a small population of Dratini/Dragonair/Dragonite that reside within the tower's moat and its immediate surroundings, although this relationship appears to be much less intimate and more tenuous than the relationship the colony possesses with the local Golett and Mienfoo populations.
In Human Society
The very statuesque nature of Druddigon has long been a popular motif in creative architecture. In the Middle Ages, statues of Druddigon were a common inspiration for gargoyles or waterspouts. The statues were also believed to scare off evil spirits and demons, although in some places, Druddigon was also used as a symbol of evil due to its somewhat grotesque features. In Unova especially, the image of the silent, still sentinels of Dragonspiral Tower have made its way into much of Unovian popular culture and in media set in more historical times, Druddigon are a favourite of guards and watchmen. Archaeological evidence pointing to the reason for Druddigon's domestication by ancient people to their guardian-like nature has strengthened this notion even further.
There is a famous annual spring festival in Icirrus City marking the end of the overwintering period of the Druddigon in Dragonspiral Tower, where they come out from their seclusion inside the tower to populate the forest again. Twin Druddigon statues are a staple architecture figure in many building entrances, with their bases traditionally engraved with blessings or had plaques commemorating important events. The statues are so popular that they have even spread to a few buildings in Kanto and Sinnoh, where other, more impressive inspirations such as Dragonite are more commonplace.
edited 19th May '11 11:53:45 PM by TracerBullet