Komodo Dragon

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Komodo dragons are the world's heaviest living lizards, growing to a length of 10 feet and weigh up to 200lbs (91kg). The females are a little under 8 feet and weigh around 150lbs (68kg). Despite their size they are agile and fast moving, can climb trees and are good swimmers.

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Why should I be aware of this?

  • It was long believed that the Komodo dragon, native to Indonesia, kills via blood poisoning caused by the multiple strains of bacteria in the dragon's saliva. But scientists have now confirmed that Komodo dragons kill using a one-two punch of sharp teeth and a venomous bite.
  • Though the Komodo dragons have thrived in the harsh climate of Indonesia's Lesser Sunda Islands for millions of years, their existence was not known to humans until about 100 years ago.

All about Komodo Dragon

Komodo dragons are the dominant predators on the handful of islands they inhabit. Their diet includes carrion, deer, pigs, smaller dragons, and even large water buffalo and humans. Their hunting strategy depends on camouflage and patience. They lie in wait for passing prey.

An initial attack by a Komodo dragon weakens the victim and it subsequently dies. The dragon then tracks the wounded creature and dines at its leisure. New research found that the dragon's venom rapidly decreases blood pressure, expedites blood loss, and sends a victim into shock, rendering it too weak to fight. In the venom, some compounds that reduce blood pressure are as potent as those found in the word's most venomous snake, Western Australia's inland Taipan.

Elaborate venom-delivery system

The Komodo dragons' elaborate venom-delivery system was most surprising to the scientists as it was found to be the most complex duct system described in reptiles to date. Unlike snakes which have a single venom duct that leads to their fangs, the Komodos have multiple ducts located between their teeth.

Again, unlike snakes, instead of directly injecting venom through a forceful bite, the Komodo dragons use a specialized bite-and-pull motion to ooze the toxin into wounds during a sustained, frenzied attack.

Stable population

There is a stable population of about 3,000 to 5,000 Komodo dragons on the islands of Komodo, Gila Motang, Rinca, and Flores. However, a dearth of egg-laying females, poaching, human encroachment, and natural disasters has driven the species to endangered status.

CopperBytes

  • Listed as a vulnerable species by the World Conservation Union, about 4,000 to 5,000 Komodos remain in the wild. [1]
  • The Komodo's ancient relative, the Megalania, used a similar venom-plus-wounding approach.[1]
  • The combination of venom and multiple lacerations from the lizards' sharp, serrated teeth is what makes the dragons so deadly.[1]

90 degrees

Though fearsome and poisonous, the Komodo dragon has a bite weaker than a house cat's, researchers say. Measuring the forces and composition of the lizard's skull, the researchers found that its jaw is not designed for crushing. If they tried to crush their prey like the crocodiles do, they would break their jaws. [1]

References:

  • Komodo Dragon
  • Komodo Dragon
  • Komodo Dragons Kill With Venom, Researchers Find

Source

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 National Geographic