There isn’t a single kind of dragon. Instead, there are different kinds of dragons and dragon-like creatures from different cultures. However, what unites dragons and dragon-like creatures is that they have always been based on real animals.
For instance, the ancient Mesopotamians had stories about a number of dragons and dragon-like creatures, which were often cobbled together using components of various animals. This can be seen in the mushussu, which had a serpentine form mounted upon a pair of feline front legs and aquiline back talons. Likewise, this can be seen in the usumgallu, which has sometimes been described as a kind of lion-dragon demon.
Other cultures have used similar methods to come up with their dragons and dragon-like creatures. For example, dragon comes from the Greek drakon, which tends to mean a huge serpent with some kind of supernatural characteristic to it. However, while that might have been the most common form of what we would call Greek dragons, there were others such as the female drakaina, went went as far as to incorporate human components. Meanwhile, over in ancient China, the famous Records of the Grand Historian outright claims that the Chinese long was created by the Yellow Emperor by combining the totems of the tribes that he conquered. Something that has been used to explain why the Chinese people continue to be associated with the Chinese long to this very day.
In modern times, the use of real animals for dragons has taken on new importance. After all, cobbling components of various animals into a visual representation can be challenging enough on its own, cobbling components of various animals into a moving visual representation is that much more so. Still, while the process is challenging, real animals remain our best references for how fantastical creatures might move, which is why they continue to be used by movie studio after movie studio.
What Is the Light Fury?
For who haven’t heard, the Light Fury is a new dragon that will be making its debut in How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. Like its name suggests, she is related to Toothless, who is a Night Fury. However, it should be mentioned that the Light Fury is a member of a separate subspecies.
Visually-speaking, the Light Fury looks similar to Toothless but is very much not the same. However, her appearance has sparked some irritation on the Internet because a lot of the changes are pretty much exactly what one would expect when someone was creating a feminine version of Toothless, which is particularly noticeable because this hasn’t been an issue for the How to Train Your Dragon series in the past. For example, the Light Fury has much lighter coloring, as shown by the whites, the creams, and the pinks. Likewise, the Light Fury has a much softer and sleeker form that is missing a lot of the points that can be found on the Night Fury, which is an impression that is further enhanced by the fact that her scales are much less noticeable as well.
What Are the Animals that Inspired the Light Fury?
Regardless, it should come as no surprise to learn that the Light Fury was inspired by animals. However, while the Night Fury was inspired by the panther, the Light Fury was inspired by the snow leopard. In short, snow leopards are a species that can be found in the mountain ranges of Central Asia as well as South Asia. Their patterns provide them with excellent camouflage when moving about their natural habitats, particularly since they are one of the numerous species that prefer hunting under crepuscular conditions.
With that said, the Light Fury is also inspired by a Mexican salamander species called the Axolotl, which might be more familiar to some people under the name of the Mexican walking fish. This is because Axolotl are oddities in that they can reach adulthood without undergoing the process of metamorphosis, which is why they retain a very neotenic appearance. As for the influence of the Axolotl on the Light Fury, the resemblance should be clear to anyone who has ever gotten a good look at a picture of the pale, very rounded salamanders, which look like much-exaggerated versions of what the dragon might have looked like as a hatchling.