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To the Mythical World

Monday, 27 April 2015

Sea Serpents

Sea Serpents (Sea Dragon)
The Sea Serpent is one of the oldest mythical animals of all time. Their are many forms of the sea serpent including the Loch Ness Monster and the Leviathan.

Classic Sea Serpent:
The sea serpent is most commonly depicted as a snake-like creature with a powerful head, but instead of moving side to side like a snake, the classic sea serpent moves up and down.
This snake-like body design can work, the sea snake lives its life entirely in the ocean and has no fins. Snakes can glide through the water and a sea serpent with a similar adaptation would do the same. But these sea serpents are also known to rap around ships and whales. This may be how the classic sea serpent kills its prey. Like a boa constrictor the classic sea serpent may rap its body around its prey and squeeze. If it's a whale the sea serpent may just drag the whale under water until it drowned. Then, using its dinosaur-like teeth, shredded its prey into bite sized chunks.
The leviathan is another thing all together. The organelle leviathan is a snake-like animal with wings and a bump where the hind legs used to be.
The leviathan is also depicted with large bumps along the back (called Scutes) these may be used as a defense against predators when the leviathan is young and small, but the scutes could also be used as a advertizement for attracting mates. A male may have red pigment in his scutes advertizing that he is a healthy, strong male that will be suitable for having strong young that are more likely to survive. Pigment may also be on the wings, that would also advertize to females. The females would be more dull in colour because they are the ones that pick their mates. The leviathan has no visible back legs (what's left can only be seen in the skeleton), instead the leviathans front legs/wings got longer and stronger for better propulsion through the water. The tail moves side to side, and stabilizes the animal. The leviathans ancestor is the Wyvern which is a dragon whose front legs are the wings and don't have extra limbs.

Water breather:
The water breather is a unique type of sea serpent in that it "breathes" water. It does this by filling its former flight bladder with water and then spitting it out at the surface. This behavior may be a form of communication with other water breathers telling them that the water breather is healthy and strong.
 It could also be for attracting mates, the female of the species would be attracted to the male with the biggest water spout. A strange thing is that the water breather's front legs are vary small for a creature as big as it is. This may be because the water breather is trading its limbs for a more streamlined shape (turning more snake-like). But the small limbs may be used for steering the animal and the tail would propel the animal through the water.

The plesiosaur-like sea serpent is the most resent type of sea serpent to date. The plesiosaur sea serpent is most commonly known as Nessie, Champ or the Ogopogo which are all lake monsters.
The plesiosaur has abandoned the snake-like body design that the other sea serpents have adopted. Instead the plesiosaur adopted the barrel body shape with a long neck and tail. The front and back flippers are modified front and back legs. The bones in the front and back legs still have all the arm and leg bones in it. The front flippers are bigger and are used for propelling the animal through the water while the hind flippers are used for steering. The plesiosaur-like sea serpents are unique in that some species have adapted to living in fresh water like the water found in lake Loch Ness and lake Okanagan. These two plesiosaurs are smaller then their ocean relatives due to being mostly found in lakes and rivers.

Body Structure:
(Click to enlarge)
Flight Bladder:
The flight bladder of the sea serpent is no longer used for breathing fire and making it possible for flight. In most sea serpents the flight bladder has turned into a swim bladder used for buoyancy. In the Water Breather class though the flight bladder is not only a swim bladder but also serves as a communication devise, the water breather sucks up water and directs it to the flight bladder. When the sea serpent swims to the surface he breathes out and a spout of water comes out of its mouth. The false palate at the back of the throat prevents water from entering the lungs.

The wings on most sea serpents have disappeared, only visible in the skeleton. The leviathan though has strengthened its wings and uses them to literately fly through the water.

 Scutes are the boney bumps along the back of crocodiles and some sea serpents. These are mainly used for defense against predators like orcas and sharks. But when the sea serpent gets too big for orcas and sharks to prey on the scutes turn into a display for attracting mates. On some sea serpents the scutes even change into a bright colour to signal that the male is healthy, strong, and mature. Other sea serpents battle with them to attract mates and defend territory. They swim head on at top speeds then turn sideways (so there backs face each other) and they scrape against each others scutes and if the challenger doesn't back down they turn around and repeat the maneuver.

Closeable Ears:
The ears on all sea serpents have evolved to be closable so that water doesn't get into the ear canal. The ears look similar to those  on crocodiles.


Eggs And Parental Care:
Unlike their land, dwelling cousins, dragons, both the male and female sea serpents take care of the eggs and young. Unlike other ocean dwelling reptiles though, the sea serpent doesn't give birth to live young. Instead the eggs have a vary rough surface which traps air to form a life sustaining air bubble around the egg. The parents take turns gulping in air at the surface and gently blowing it onto the eggs while the other parent guards against predators and possibly other sea serpents. The eggs are kept warm by the air bubble that surrounds it. The air is warmed in the parents flight bladder to a
temperature between 31-33
ยบ C. Like their relatives the dragons, sea serpents have a temperature sensing tongue, they use this to make sure that the eggs stay within a certain temperature range.

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