The Komodo Dragon

There are only a few rare cases of real-life creatures being comparable to monsters of legends and myth. The komodo dragon is without a doubt one of these rare exceptions; to the eye it’s a deadly combination of crocodile, salamander and dinosaur. Frightening indeed, though the locals of the Galapagos don’t seem to mind them so much. Growing up to around three metres in the larger specimens found, these creatures are indeed probably the closest thing we’ll ever get to a real-life dinosaur. Biologists say that the daunting size of the komodo dragon is most likely a result of a natural phenomena called ‘island gigantism’, where the isolated environment, abundance of prey and lack of competition allows the komodo dragon to reign as supreme apex predator.

However, recent scientific research has concluded that, if anything, the komodo dragon has shrunk, rather than grown to its monstrous proportions. New evidence suggests that the creature is a surviving ancestor of a family of ‘big daddy’ lizards, which existed amongst other reptile and mammal megafauna roughly four million years ago. Much like their gargantuan ancestors, the komodo dragon’s diet includes just about anything: small mammals, large mammals, small birds, large birds, fruit, fruit groves, fruit farmers and small towns. Some of the larger ones have even been reported to prey upon adult deer. This, however, is not the most shocking part of the dietary habits of these creatures; they eat corpses. Not just animal carrion either; these vulturous lizards have been known to burrow in cemeteries and tear open caskets to feast upon the decaying corpses within. Rather than fear these intimidating creatures, the locals respect them and have learned to co-exist with them over the centuries. The dwellings of the Galapagos are built high up on sticks for good reason, without a single morsel or pet left upon the ground overnight. If you ever volunteer in Latin America in the future, you’ll have a great opportunity to visit the Galapagos and hear the tales and experiences of the locals regarding the behaviour of these lizards for yourselves.

So, please do volunteer in Latin America and see for yourself the islands and creatures that inspired the creation of King Kong!

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October 6, 2011 | Author: | Posted in Reptiles Amphibians

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