No photograph available; artist did the best she could.

Atlantic Puffin Dragon (Draguffin)

Wyvernus Fraturcula

Size: 45-50 cm long (to base of tail)

Location: Coastal Newfoundland and Labrador (Canada), Greenland, Iceland; open waters of the North Atlantic (winter)

Feeding: fish, small birds

Breeding habits: unknown

Flames/Smoke: no

Venom: no

Description: The Atlantic Puffin Dragon (often called the “Draguffin”) is a small species of semi-aquatic dragon. It is one of the finest mimics in the dragon world, having the appearance of an Atlantic Puffin in the foreparts and feet. The beak-like snout conceals sharp teeth, and the bat-type wings are coloured to reflect the typical wing size and coloration of the puffin. The rear parts of the dragon and the extremities of the wings fade to blue, offering some camouflage against sea or, to a lesser extent, sky. It’s a convincing effect, but not perfect. In fact, the only reason this common species is not spotted more frequently is that most people simply aren’t looking for dragons, and tend to only see what they expect to see.

One might suppose that on land the Draguffin should be easier to see, as the length of the body places the distinctive orange feet some distance from the black portion of the body, and the wings take the function of front legs,a necessity due to the length of the body. In fact, they are almost never spotted on land, as it’s nearly impossible to pick out details in a crowd of black and white shapes (see also: zebra herds).

Note: In the past, some have classified the Puffin Dragon as a species of Cockatrice, but this is incorrect. The cockatrice is a a dragon with the head of a rooster; the Draguffin is a proper (if elongated) wyvern, with a face only resembling a bird’s head. It’s really not that hard, people.

Dragon-Watching Tips: The Atlantic Puffin Dragon is found exclusively among the large flocks of puffins that gather on Atlantic shores to breed in spring and summer, and follows them out to sea for the winter. When watching puffins in flight, be alert for signs of a darker shape trailing beside and behind; this could be the wings and tail of a Draguffin. Always wary of humans, they generally prefer to swim when boats are near, which makes the wings and tail nearly impossible to see. The Puffin Dragon mimics the floating posture of the puffin bird nearly perfectly, but can be identified by a thinner neck and longer black projections over the eyes than those on the birds. The Draguffin’s skin is scaled; it is nearly impossible to get close enough to see the texture, but sunlight may reveal the metallic sheen that distinguishes the dragon.

If you think you see a puffin attacking a Great Black-Backed Gull (the puffin’s most frequent predator), there’s a good chance it’s a Draguffin; many a gull that has approached a lone puffin looking for a snack has found itself instead staring into a dragon’s maw, the last thing they’re likely to see.

Thanks to Jae for suggesting the Draguffin as a compromise between showing you all a dragon and a puffin. Really, thanks… I totally needed help procrastinating this weekend. 😉

The Puffin Dragon isn’t part of my fictional world (yet), but I like it. I kind of want to put one somewhere.


About Kate Sparkes

Kate Sparkes was born in Hamilton, Ontario, but now resides in Newfoundland, where she tries not to talk too much about the dragons she sees in the fog. She lives with five cats, two dogs, and just the right amount of humans. USA Today bestselling author of the Bound Trilogy (mature YA Fantasy), Into Elurien, and Vines and Vices. Writing dark, decadent, and deadly Urban Fantasy as Tanith Frost. www.katesparkes.com www.tanithfrost.com View all posts by Kate Sparkes

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