Height: 17-20 ft.
Length: 47 ft. Recorded length estimated 49-59 ft.
Weight: 7.1 metric tons
Lifespan: 70+ years
Status: Critically Endangered
Species: C. hades
Nicknames: Cranie, Skullie, Ichigo or Hollow Dragon or Wyvern
The cranigor has always been the most respected and most feared of all of Argo's dragons. Its size and appearance alone is enough to deter even some of the mightiest of Archean soldiers and rival dragons alike. This dragon has never been successfully tamed, and very few individuals have the power to come to peaceful terms with it.
Some villages feared the cranie so much that they would offer fresh animal kills as sacrifices in an attempt to have it not raid their livestock and possibly claim any victims. Yet others are fascinated by this rarey seen animal, as it likes to lead a life of secrecy, and has the ability to sense death in another animal, beast or Archean alike. Some once considred it bad luck to hunt and kill it.
DESCRIPTION: The cranigor is the largest member of the family Cranigoridea, as well as the largest and most powerful of Argo's native dragon species. Both sexes are covered in thick, black scales throughout their entire bodies. Only their heads are completely white except for black patches around the eyes and snout, as well as taking the appearence of a skull pattern. Their lips are lined with black stripes resembling that of the stereotypical dentation of an animal skull. Their bodies also have black and white patterns that resemble that of a skeletal structure, including their wings and wing membranes. The purpose for this unique pattern is unknown. Males are easily sorted from the females by an orange feathered mane. Cranigors are the only species of dragon that lack irises and pupils in their eyes. The eyes are completely milky white, suggesting that they rely solely on scent and sound. Recent studies, however, prove that while their sense of smell is superior to that of other species, a cranigor's eyesight is not absent. This feature is also poorly understood. The cranigor's tongue, gums and inside of mouth and throat are a deep purple.
Unlike the size and ferocity of the adults, cranigor chicks rely of fits of hissing and screeching, often making mock charges at potential predators that would want to make a meal out of a chick. A single bite from a yearling can be fatal, as their saliva harbors deadly bacteria much like a komodo monitor lizard's does to large buffalo. Adults only breathe fire as a last resort. male dragons have large black spurs on their hindlegs their legs, used in combating males.
There are two distinctive variations that almost separate them geographically. Cranigors that are found deep in the forests, small grasslands, and the mountains of Tas and Gotas where vegetation is scarce due to the extremities of hot and cold weather conditions are more robust, while populations found further south of Tas where grasslands are more expansive tend to be slimmer and faster. Both variations occasionally cross paths and "interbreed", thus diversifying the genetic gene pool of the species as a whole.
While they are known to prey upon large animals such as the Iguadont species, their main prey item, cranigors seem to prefer feeding on carcasses or the kills of other predators. But when a cranie does hunt, it targets animals usually, young, old or sick. The element of surprise is always played out, as this species cannot run for much long distances. They usually bite around the throat, thus severing the artery of blood and oxygen supply. Cranigors are the only dragons to attack and kill an adult Braceritos, often repeatedly biting them around the legs and throat until the animal dies of shock and blood loss. As powerful as they are, cranies are still careful in avoiding injury to themselves that could be fatal. A meal of this size can sustain an ecosystem of predators for at least a year. Without Braceritos, cranigor numbers would fall in decline as they cannot solely rely on Iguadonts alone. A cranie's large, broad skull is perfect for crushing bones.
Cranies prefer to hunt alone, with the only exceptions being a mated pair or a family unit.
Cranies are usually solitary, and large males are seldom intolerate of even females in their territory except during the breeding season. Occasionally, young males of three or more adolsecents, usually around thirteen years of age, set off on their own claim a temporary territory until they set off on their own individual paths. Cranies are a truly wild animal, and are very rare to tame. Because of a super slow metabolism, they can go without food for up to a year.
Cranie's territories can overlap it's close cousin's territory, the Foldon. In extremely rare cases, males can interbreed with female foldons to produce fertile intergade offspring. Such crossings are called Folcrans. And during severe cases of cold drought, cranies will seek out refuge deep in dark caves and caverns and undergo a sort of hibernation that can last up anywhere from six months to over a year. Other than breeding season, hibernation is the only other time that female cranies from adolescents to 47 foot long adults will congregate together in such an energy saving deep sleep. Large, older males seek their own individual places unless they are small adolescent packs. Cranigors are one of the longest lived of all the Cranigorids, taking into account their unusually extended hibernation. The dragons, when hunting, never fly after their prey, but chase it on foot. Flight is expensive in terms of biology, and is only used mainly when in migration or evading trouble. Young dragons may fail the first few attempts. More expereinced family packs plan carefully coordinated huntings, the youngest members chasing their prey on a predetermined course to the direction of their den or chosen spot where the dominant pack member makes the final kill. Surprisingly, the large dragons do occasionally come into competition with not only dragons, but a couple of non-dragon species.
Some cranigors are known to fly to Meta and, rarely, Soa, during times of drought. But they never stay in one place very long.
REPRODUCTION: Cranigors are solitary dragons, and come together only to mate once every eight years during thick, foggy summer morningss. Breeding age is usually around eighteen years. The male's arena is a seemingly endless flat floor of ash and soot covered rocks. The male, in his attempt to win over a potential mate, presents the female with a freshly killed animal after she has responded to his mating call. A large meal can keep a receptive female even more receptive. Even though the male is larger, he is always cautious around an aggressive female, especially if he is to leave his mark on the next generation. After she has finished eating her fill, the male will then court the female by strutting left and right in front of the female, vigorously shaking his bright orange mane as he presents his throat, roaring in the process. If she accepts his jesture, she'll roar back, rearing her tail in the air, allowing the male to mate with her. This mating ritual will continue for three more days, as this helps deter rival males from intervening. Once the carcass is stripped of meat, the female will then gather debris and deposit a clutch of twelve eggs in this heep. At this time, the female will not leave the nest for four months while the male is gone on patrol of his territory for that amount of time. Despite his not being present at all times, males actually help rear their young. He usually identifies his chicks from others by scent. Those that he does not recognize are killed and eaten, thus increasing his genes to the next generation.
Upon hatching, the cranie chicks are already fiercely competative once the mother regurgitates food for them. Normally, only two to four chicks survive from a clutch of twelve. The young dragons are completely covered in white down-like feathers, and male chicks are recognized by orange around their throats that will one day soon sport a mane. When a male does encounter his chicks, the female will charge and hiss at him. Male carnivores are known to eat their own offspring sometimes. In order to observe closer, the male submissively presents his mane and distinctive call, signaling his mate that it is him. Mated pairs are affectionate to one another. The chicks constantly follow their parents around, learning and watching them hunt, how to track prey and water, and what predators to avoid. They'll even mimic their parents seeking out and eating precious Argonium. They will not have the ability to master fire until they have reached approximately sixteen years of age. Other predators, mainly other large dragon species, prey upon cranie babies. Young cranies are pushed out of the nest when they reach fourteen years, and sometimes the chicks can either stay together for another year, or find temporary same sex packs of their own. Teenage dragons are slender and faster than most adults, and can be killed by adults as individuals, as well as by other large dragons or large non-dragon species if given the chance. Cranies have one of the most longest forms of parental care than any other large species.
STATUS: The cranigor is an endangered species due to egg collecting and trophy hunting by alien hunters in the past millenia. Illegal poaching is also a common threat, and spells big business for interstellular black marketing who use dragon parts for medicinal purposes and food, or keep the entire dragon alive for exotic expo. They do not thrive well in captivity. Males are the most sought after prizes, and the largest males, known as bucks, fetch extreme prices.