A Serious Conversation with a Scientist About How the Dragons on 'Game of Thrones' Fuck

Probably best to consider it a non-canonical conversation.

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17 May 2016, 2:00am

Game of Thrones promo photo via HBO

The makers of Game of Thrones love sex and nudity, and season six, with its (mild spoiler alert) full-frontal of Daenerys Targaryen on fire, was just further proof of that fact. Some of the sex and nudity is #problematic, and a lot of it is fun for everyone. HBO and author George R. R. Martin have spared no detail about who's enjoying a little incest, who's gay or bisexual, whose genitals can deliver demons into the world, and whose genitals have been removed altogether. So it's weird that the show has dragons, and has never bothered to show us how they bone.

If you read the books, you'll know Martin hasn't avoided the topic altogether. But frustratingly, all the dragon sex information Martin has provided so far has been filtered through the highly fallible historians he has invented, which cloaks all mention of dragon mating habits in contradictions and myth. Characters have claimed that dragons are neither male nor female—meaning hermaphroditic. But others have claimed otherwise.

Since the books were no help, I turned to a different source altogether: science. Dragons are seemingly reptiles, and much of what happens in Game of Thrones is rooted in Earth physics, so I decided to run all of this mythology past Sarah Werning, an evolutionary biologist at Des Moines University who helped me with my many questions about dinosaur sex about a year ago. She filled me in on how Martin's dragons most likely fill each other in.

VICE: In your scientific opinion, do the dragons from Game of Thrones definitely fuck each other to reproduce?
Sarah Werning: So... All reptiles are internal fertilizers, which means they've got to get the sperm inside the females to hook up with the eggs. We definitely know that would be the case for dragons, because they've got a hard shell—of scales—on the outside of the eggs.

What does that mean their dicks are like?
Most reptiles have either a penis or a hemipenis which is like a two-prong deal. We talked about that. Snakes have a two-headed penis, and lizards have that.

What about the shape?
The shapes of the penises? I guess if you think the dragons are more like a lizard, maybe they would have [a hemipenis], and if you thought they're more like a crocodile they would probably just have one.

Crocodile penises are really pretty amazing.
Right? The ejector penis.

Does that make sense for these dragons though?
A lot of these lizard hemipenises—the ones that have the two-prong penis—they've got all sorts of crazy spikes all over the outside. That would also be consistent.

Judging from this image of Drogon [above], where would the genitals be?
Given the placement of the hip bones, and the way the legs are coming together, and the fact that most reptiles have their cloaca [a multipurpose hole for excretion and reproduction] kind of right at the base of the tail, probably that's where I would place it.

Where that big bulge is?
Behind that bulge is where [I think] the eggs came out. Yeah I would say at the base of the tail. Based on the fact that's where it is in most reptiles and it looks like it has a pelvis like a dinosaur or a bird and that's where their cloaca's are.

Would the placement of the genitals at the base of the tail, or the presence of wings require any weird positioning during sex?
Birds kind of do it on the wing. They've got the "cloacal kiss" where they just position the cloacas right next to each other and then the sperm just kind of comes out. Birds just kind of line up slot A next to slot B and shoot the sperm across and it's very fast.

So since a dragon can fly up behind another dragon that's a possibility?
Yeah. Certainly brings a possibility of all sorts of aerial acrobatics.

What's the deal with those weird eggs?
Well [eggs] kind of run the gamut from leathery to hard-shelled. I feel like the [scaly egg] is a defining characteristic of these dragons that pretty much separates them from all the other reptiles that exist in the real world. As a female the first time I saw that egg I was like, oh my goodness you wouldn't want that thing to come out backwards. It's like passing a pinecone.

There is also something they say a few times about someone needing to die in order to make dragon eggs hatch, right? Possibly the mother dragon?
That would also be a unique feature among reptiles. If that were the case—if the mom dragon had to give up her life for the baby—I guess, they probably are only going to be laying one clutch of eggs successfully. It seems like that's probably not a wise method of reproduction.

According to a fictional historian in the books, dragons are hermaphrodites. Are there hermaphrodite reptiles in real life?
It would be pretty weird for a reptile. Hermaphrodites are super rare among reptiles. They're pretty rare among vertebrates—animals with backbones—to begin with. There are a few species where that's known. There's a viper that lives off this Brazilian island where they have males and females and intersex, but that's like it.

What would that mean anatomically?
It's like a female with a tiny penis—sometimes just on one side. They're really weird.

Are there any possible types of dragon sex we haven't covered?
Some species of reptiles are parthenogenic, which is basically where you can start developing an embryo without fertilization. It's like the virgin birth sort of thing and those species are all female. Some of these parthenogenic [species] don't do it on their own. They need to have another female mount them. And after that girl-on-girl action gets going, then their ovaries are like, alright we're going to turn these eggs into embryos now.

What would this dragon lesbian sex entail?
They're mounting them. They don't have a penis, so they can't penetrate them so they're just kind of scissoring. Lizard scissoring.

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