Nitpicks: Stop Calling them “Breeds”!

Horntail  3_ 6_ 2015

We nerds, the same as sports fans, can always have a bone to pick about something of which we are a fan. Here is one of mine:
Throughout the Harry Potter universe, I keep seeing the different types of dragons being referred to as “breeds of dragon”.
While I applaud J.K. Rowling for her success and her imaginative creations and bringing so many wonderful mythical creatures of old legends to light, this dragon breed  business is one thing that hits me like nails on a chalkboard.
I’ve always tried to show people the difference between “breed” and “species”.

For instance:

Looking out the window at the wild birds on your bird feeder is appreciating species of birds.
Going to a dog show is appreciating the different breeds of dogs.

Breed, is defined as “a group or a stock of organisms (animals or plants) with similar characteristics that distinguish them from other species, and are typically bred by selecting deliberately”. There could be many breeds of plants or animals for one particular species. (there is one species that represents our domestic dog; however, the “dog” has hundreds of different breeds created by humans.) According to the definition, breeds are generated through a series of deliberate, selective breeding(mating animals to one another intentionally), which results breed-specific traits(long-bodied dachshunds, squashed-face pugs). These traits are inherited through generations of purebred animals or plants. Usually, domestic animals are selectively bred for different purposes. Dogs, sheep, cats, horses, cattle, and rabbit are some of the major animals with many breeds developed for different purposes or looks.

Species is a group of organisms who have similar features and can produce fertile offspring. They are naturally selected groups of organisms.The organisms included in one particular species have the same number of chromosomes, hence similar morphological features, and more or less similar ecological niches. One particular species should have at least few exclusive features that are not seen in other species.  The species is the most important deviation that causes diversity of life, and it is not fair to ask any scientist about the number of species in the world as it is far beyond anyone’s guess.

In other words, breeds occur because of man’s wants; species occur in nature; how nature selects them.

So, to get back to the dragons….

If the magic folk in the Harry Potter universe are selectively breeding dragons and came out with these types themselves:

Antipodean Opaleye

Chinese Fireball

Common Welsh Green

Hebridean Black

Hungarian Horntail

Norwegian Ridgeback

Peruvian Vipertooth

Romanian Longhorn

Swedish Short-Snout

Ukrainian Ironbelly

I will shut my mouth; however, given that some, like the Welsh Green, are listed as “native” to Great Britain, etc., then that should mean that those dragons naturally occur there. That would be a species.
Do these dragons naturally occur or did humans in Potterland selectively breed and create them?
Somehow I simply can’t see dragons bending to the will of humans in this way and being “bred” to whom a person dictates.


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