Status- Extinct on Argo; Rare on Earth
The Merdag is truly at home in the seas and freashwater lakes of Argo, or at least it was. This is a dragon of extreme secrecy. Part of the reason is because they avoid contact with santient beings at all times. They were an invasive species, and were cruely hunted down to extinction. They now exist only on Earth.
Merdags over thrity-eight feet long from head to tail on average. The most aquatic of all of Argo's dragons, Merdags are related to it's land brother, the Dilong. Both species once shared an aquatic ancestor millions of years ago. Around a certain point in its time frame, one member of this family branched away from the sea and onto dry land. Both the Merdag and the Dilong have similar-shaped heads and almost slick bodies, a telltale sign that both species are the closest to each other than any other dragons. However, the Merdag's ancestors wings became vestigal, and in time, they have completely been bred out in order to live a more aquatic life, reverting from a six-limbed dragon now back to a four-limbed dragon. Every once in a blue moon when a Merdag egg hatches, one offspring will retain those same little wings. To those who have seen these tiny winged Merdags, it reminds them of how long ago that all dragons, even foreign species, shared the same forebearer of all species living today. Dilongs have kept their wings, not for flight, but for gliding.
The coloration of the Merdag is specifically designed to camoflauge itself from predators and prey. It's entire top half of the body is blue, while the lower half is almost white and pale. This coloration is similar to that of Earth's Great White Shark, in that if prey views the animal from below, they would see the dragon's belly blend in with the light's reflection shining down. And if viewed from above, they would see nothing but blue sea. And as for the green stripes and patters on their bodies, they are to outline stocks of floating seaweed in which most prey are fooled into attempting to hide among it.
While both sexes are roughly the same size, males are usually bigger than the females, and the most decorative. Males also have bigger horns, and a dewlap that is intended to attract mates and intimidate rivals. Males and females both have spines that run across their cheeks. The double horns of theirs also serve a great importance- echolocation. Like some whales and other cetaceans, they use a type of sonar that helps them locate objects in teh darkest of waters. When hunting for fish or other aquatic life, they use this sonar as a weapon to briefly stun their victims befroe eating them. Merdags rarely kill on land, but have been known to scavange for carrion.
When calling for a mate, the male Merdag uses his dewlap to help resignate a sweet sounding pitch that is a cross between a roar and a whale's mating call. The female, like some other dragons, are selective, and will mate only with the largest male. When confronted, two males battle it out in a display of deepest and fastest swimmers. The male that triumphs earns the right to mate. When they pair off, the male surfaces and makes a rumbling sound with his body by vibrating it vigorously, showing that his is fit and healthy enough to rear the females' offspring. And just like crocodilians, the female is submerged underwater as teh male mounts her into submission. This ritual can last for as long as five hours. The male then leads his mate into an excevated cave, surface or underwater and air pocketed. there, the female lays a clutch of 8-12 eggs, and uncubates them by curling her body around them to maintain the proper heating temperatures, although she can ignite a small flame over the eggs to help the process, as the eggs have heat-resistant properties to prevent them from melting. Incubation last up three months.
Upon hatching, the young are vulnerable to predators, and not even the father can get close to the chicks without the mother's clearance. Only does he submissively show his throat and call can he be permitted to see his offspring. The young stay with their parents until they reach nine years of age. Once they leave, the parents also seperate. Merdags do not pair for life.
Merdags, like all dragons, need a metal deposit in their territories to help ignite their fires. These dragons only use fire when in trouble or confronted by an adversary.