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Taxonomic history Skull Komodo dragons were first documented by Europeans in , when rumors of a "land crocodile" reached Lieutenant van Steyn van Hensbroek of the Dutch colonial administration. Douglas Burden in After returning with 12 preserved specimens and 2 live ones, this expedition provided the inspiration for the movie King Kong.

At around this time, an expedition was planned in which a long-term study of the Komodo dragon would be undertaken. This task was given to the Auffenberg family, who stayed on Komodo Island for 11 months in During their stay, Walter Auffenberg and his assistant Putra Sastrawan captured and tagged more than 50 Komodo dragons. To the natives of Komodo Island , it is referred to as ora, buaya darat land crocodile , or biawak raksasa giant monitor.

Around 15 million years ago, a collision between Australia and Southeast Asia allowed these larger varanids to move back into what is now the Indonesian archipelago, extending their range as far east as the island of Timor. The Komodo dragon was believed to have differentiated from its Australian ancestors 4 million years ago. However, recent fossil evidence from Queensland suggests the Komodo dragon actually evolved in Australia before spreading to Indonesia.

Its saliva is frequently blood-tinged, because its teeth are almost completely covered by gingival tissue that is naturally lacerated during feeding. Senses Play media Komodo dragon using its tongue to sample the air As with other varanids, Komodo dragons have only a single ear bone, the stapes , for transferring vibrations from the tympanic membrane to the cochlea. This arrangement means they are likely restricted to sounds in the to 2, hertz range, compared to humans who hear between 20 and 20, hertz.

This was disputed when London Zoological Garden employee Joan Proctor trained a captive specimen to come out to feed at the sound of her voice, even when she could not be seen. It can distinguish colours, but has poor visual discrimination of stationary objects. The scales around the ears, lips, chin, and soles of the feet may have three or more sensory plaques.

As an ectotherm , it is most active in the day, although it exhibits some nocturnal activity. Komodo dragons are solitary, coming together only to breed and eat. They serve as strategic locations from which to ambush deer.

Although they have been considered as eating mostly carrion, [6] they will frequently ambush live prey with a stealthy approach. They have been recorded as killing wild pigs within seconds, [35] and observations of Komodo dragons tracking prey for long distances are likely misinterpreted cases of prey escaping an attack before succumbing to infection. Komodo dragons eat by tearing large chunks of flesh and swallowing them whole while holding the carcass down with their forelegs.

For smaller prey up to the size of a goat, their loosely articulated jaws, flexible skulls, and expandable stomachs allow them to swallow prey whole. The vegetable contents of the stomach and intestines are typically avoided. A Komodo dragon may attempt to speed up the process by ramming the carcass against a tree to force it down its throat, sometimes ramming so forcefully, the tree is knocked down.

Because of their slow metabolism, large dragons can survive on as few as 12 meals a year. After regurgitating the gastric pellet, it rubs its face in the dirt or on bushes to get rid of the mucus, suggesting it does not relish the scent of its own excretions.

The largest animals eat first, while the smaller ones follow a hierarchy. The largest male asserts his dominance and the smaller males show their submission by use of body language and rumbling hisses.

Dragons of equal size may resort to "wrestling". Losers usually retreat, though they have been known to be killed and eaten by victors. Sometimes they consume human corpses, digging up bodies from shallow graves. They actually have surprisingly good mouth hygiene. As Bryan Fry put it: Unlike people have been led to believe, they do not have chunks of rotting flesh from their meals on their teeth, cultivating bacteria.

The warm, faeces-filled water would then cause the infections. Based on their analysis of this peptide, they have synthesized a short peptide dubbed DRGN-1 and tested it against multidrug-resistant MDR pathogens. Preliminary results of these tests show that DRGN-1 is effective in killing drug-resistant bacterial strains and even some fungi.

It has the added observed benefit of significantly promoting wound healing in both uninfected and mixed biofilm infected wounds. The team believes the immediate effects of bites from these lizards were caused by mild envenomation.

Bites on human digits by a lace monitor V. MRI scans of a preserved skull showed the presence of two glands in the lower jaw. The researchers extracted one of these glands from the head of a terminally ill dragon in the Singapore Zoological Gardens , and found it secreted several different toxic proteins.

The known functions of these proteins include inhibition of blood clotting, lowering of blood pressure, muscle paralysis, and the induction of hypothermia, leading to shock and loss of consciousness in envenomated prey.

According to these scientists "reptilian oral secretions contribute to many biological roles other than to quickly dispatch prey".

These researchers concluded that, "Calling all in this clade venomous implies an overall potential danger that does not exist, misleads in the assessment of medical risks, and confuses the biological assessment of squamate biochemical systems". These males may vomit or defecate when preparing for the fight. Therefore, the male must fully restrain the female during coitus to avoid being hurt.

Other courtship displays include males rubbing their chins on the female, hard scratches to the back, and licking. After cutting themselves out, the hatchlings may lie in their eggshells for hours before starting to dig out of the nest. They are born quite defenseless and are vulnerable to predation. Scientists initially assumed she had been able to store sperm from her earlier encounter with a male, an adaptation known as superfecundation.

The zoo has two adult female Komodo dragons, one of which laid about 17 eggs on 1920 May Only two eggs were incubated and hatched due to space issues; the first hatched on 31 January , while the second hatched on 1 February. Both hatchlings were males. When a female Komodo dragon with ZW sex chromosomes reproduces in this manner, she provides her progeny with only one chromosome from each of her pairs of chromosomes, including only one of her two sex chromosomes.

This single set of chromosomes is duplicated in the egg, which develops parthenogenetically. Eggs receiving a Z chromosome become ZZ male ; those receiving a W chromosome become WW and fail to develop, [60] [61] meaning that only males are produced by parthenogenesis in this species.

It has been hypothesised that this reproductive adaptation allows a single female to enter an isolated ecological niche such as an island and by parthenogenesis produce male offspring, thereby establishing a sexually reproducing population via reproduction with her offspring that can result in both male and female young. According to a data from Komodo National Park , within 38 years in a period between and , there were 24 reported attacks on humans, 5 of them deadly.

Most of the victims are local villagers living around the national park. Despite suffering some injuries, the guide survived. The victim survived the attack, but his left leg was severely injured. Older animals will also retreat from humans from a shorter distance away. If cornered, they will react aggressively by gaping their mouth, hissing, and swinging their tail.

If they are disturbed further, they may start an attack and bite. Although there are anecdotes of unprovoked Komodo dragons attacking or preying on humans, most of these reports are either not reputable or caused by defensive bites. Only a very few cases are truly the result of unprovoked attacks by abnormal individuals, which lost their fear towards humans. Populations remained relatively stable on the bigger islands Komodo and Rinca , but decreased on smaller island such as Nusa Kode and Gili Motang, likely due to diminishing prey availability.

They are, however, rare in zoos because they are susceptible to infection and parasitic disease if captured from the wild, and do not readily reproduce. More attempts to exhibit Komodo dragons were made, but the lifespan of these animals was very short, averaging five years in the National Zoological Park.

Studies done by Walter Auffenberg, which were documented in his book The Behavioral Ecology of the Komodo Monitor, eventually allowed for more successful managing and reproducing of the dragons in captivity. Most individuals are relatively tame within a short time, [73] [74] and are capable of recognising individual humans and discriminating between familiar keepers.

This behavior does not seem to be "food-motivated predatory behavior". In June , a Komodo dragon seriously injured Phil Bronstein , the then husband of actress Sharon Stone , when he entered its enclosure at the Los Angeles Zoo after being invited in by its keeper.

Bronstein was bitten on his bare foot, as the keeper had told him to take off his white shoes and socks, which the keeper stated could potentially excite the Komodo dragon as they were the same colour as the white rats the zoo fed the dragon.

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