Another type of lizard that’s been styled as a “dragon” are the Sungazers of South Africa. The largest species is Smaug giganteus, named after Tolkein’s famous dragon from The Hobbit. These grow between 7 and 8 inches in length, so they aren’t terribly big compared to other lizards, especially in the Monitor family, but their spiny-all-over bodies give them a distinct, dragon-like appearance.
Sungazers live in dry grasslands, where they dig burrows protected by rocks at the surface. They are mostly insectivores but will take small animals if the opportunity presents itself. Like all lizards, they are cold blooded and must move into the sun to warm up in the mornings. This “sungazing” behavior led to their common name. They are also known as Girdled Lizards, as oulvolk (old folks) in Afrikaans, mbedla by Zulu speakers and pathakalle in the Sotho language.
At one time, Sungazers’ striking appearance made them widespread and popular in American pet shops. Unfortunately, their numbers have fallen due to habitat loss and excessive capture for the pet trade. Sungazers are long lived, up to 20 years in captivity, but they breed infrequently and lay few eggs. Because they live in colonies, an entire group can be wiped out by pet-hunters or development. Thus Sungazers are a threatened species, no longer legally available. If you see a Sungazer in a pet shop, it either was illegally caught or it is something else being mislabeled as a Sungazer.
Posted in Dragon Folklore | Tagged Deby Fredericks, dragons, Lucy D. Ford, Real-Life Dragons, Sungazers | 2 Comments »
My husband was clearing some things away in order to move a dresser, and look what he found!
It’s very nicely engraved glass, and neither of us has any memory of how we got it. His sister’s name is on the envelope, so perhaps she brought it back from one of her deployments.
At any rate, I went and got a frame the next day, so his “moon dragon” is now proudly displayed in a window near his computer.
Posted in Books & Movies | Tagged Deby Fredericks, dragon art, Dragon Encounters, dragons, Lucy D. Ford | 1 Comment »
During the last week of school for 2015, I walked into the room where I was subbing and what did I see? Tyler D., hard at work.
Tyler was a freshman at North Central High School. He said that he drew this picture on the whiteboard during class about two weeks ago. He kept touching it up and it stayed there until the last day.
This kid has a lot of talent. I hope he’ll keep growing as an artist.
Posted in Books & Movies | Tagged Deby Fredericks, dragon art, Dragon Encounters, dragons, Lucy D. Ford | 3 Comments »
This book, published by Tor in 2013, is the starter of a promising series that combines classic fantasy with a steampunk-inspired setting. The main character, Isabella, is born with keen scientific interests. Her special love for learning about dragons propels the story. Alas for Isabella, her Victorian styled homeland disapproves of women having such interests. The first few chapters detail how her very conventional mother kept throwing away her experiments.
Isabella internalized these negative messages, frequently referring to herself as an “ink nose,” yet she couldn’t let go of her passion for science. While living at home, she enlisted one of her brothers to borrow books from the family library and pass them to her. In her “season” of searching for a husband, she started with a list of men who might be open-minded enough to let her read from their libraries, too.
This character is very telling for modern girls and women who are interested in science but continually receive negative feedback. Yet Isabella also infuriated me in the way the author turned her unconventional drive for knowledge into a very conventional, stupidly reckless “female curiosity.” She made a great deal of noise about being practical, yet continually got into dangerous situations without any sort of planning or escape route. Her poor husband, Jacob, was left scrambling to figure out where she went. I was disappointed in Brennan for falling back on a stereotype that’s just as damaging as the one she was trying to refute.
But… the dragons! There are several varieties, including the charming Sparklings found in Isabella’s garden and hedges. This book revolves mostly around larger, more dangerous Rock-Wyrms that Isabella wangles her way into a field expedition to study. Rock-Wyrms that have mysteriously begun to attack humans all around the study region. One of the most important discoveries their expedition makes is that Rock-Wyrms bury their dead. This behavior raises the possibility that dragons aren’t just savage beasts, but possess some degree of intelligence.
Despite my complaints, I enjoyed this book and plan to follow the series as it unfolds.
Posted in Books & Movies | Tagged Deby Fredericks, dragons, fantasy, fantasy fiction, Lady Trent Series, Lucy D. Ford, Marie Brennan, Natural History of Dragons, YA fantasy | 1 Comment »