There is hardly anyone who can match Daenerys Targaryen and her fire-breathing dragons.
Dragons have the last built-in defense: they can breathe fire, beating their enemies into charred shells.
But although historical and modern literature is rich in the history of the dragon (we are looking at you, "Game of Thrones"), there is no reliable physical evidence that these legendary creatures exist. That said, are there living beings who can breathe fire like the mythical dragon?
The short answer is no, but there are some surprisingly creative animals that can shed harmful gases, toxins and sticky substances from their bodies. And there are even clever raptors that spread the fire so they can smoke tasty prey. [Top 10 Beasts and Dragons: How Reality Made Myth]
The main reason why animals that breathe fire do not exist? Well, a flame could cause an unpleasant boo.
"There are no real animals that are flame resistant or immune to fire," said Rachel Keeffe, a PhD student studying reptiles and amphibians at the University of Florida, in a statement. "There are animals that can withstand super high temperatures like oceanic vents: certain worms can live in these really unhealthy environments, but that's not fire."
This fact could disappoint Daenerys Targaryen, the so-called Mother of the Dragons of HBO's "Game of Thrones", as well as her children who breathe with fire, Drogon, Viserion and Rhaegal, but there are still many dragon-like animals. Take, for example, the cobra that spits, a group that includes several species of cobra that spew blinding venom from their fangs when they are threatened. Afrotropical scorpions in the genus. Parabutus It can spray highly toxic poison to threatening intruders.
And, while it's not as scorched as Drogon's fire blast, the gecko Estrofo You can shoot a sticky smell from the tail to scare off predators.
"It's not toxic or anything, it's just a little rude," said Keeffe, who co-authored and illustrated the next book "The Anthropology of Dragons: A Global Perspective."
Other beasts with defenses that come out of their derrières include skunks and bombardier beetles (Pheropsophus jessoensis), that throw a toxic chemical badtail when they are threatened. The farts of these beetles are so powerful that they can incite the toads that have eaten them to vomit their last meal. That is exactly what the beetle wants; It can be covered with mucus from the stomach of the toad, but sometimes these beetles can survive the test.
However, when it comes to fighting with fire, the Australian raptors take first prize. Three species of these predatory birds Down Down – black kites (Milvus migrans), whistling comets (Haliastur sphenurus) and the brown hawks (Falco berigora) – it is known that they are lurking for forest fires and then suddenly snatch herbs or branches with their claws. Then, the birds use the fire to light new flames in other places, which in turn smoke to the mammals and the prey of insects that they can eat.
As for the real animals that breathe fire, it seems that they are confined to our imagination. Just keep in mind that this elephant that breathes smoke is not a kind of dragon hybrid. Rather, it is likely that he ate some pieces of wood charcoal from the forest floor and then flew the ash while chewing, Varun Goswami, an elephant biologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society in India, said in a statement. .
Originally published in Living science.