1. Komodo Dragons Facts.
Species: V. komodoensis
These unique animals are only found on the island of Komodo and nearby islands Rinca, Gili Motang (these Islands are a part of Komodo National Park).
The Komodo dragon (Varanus Komodoensis) is the largest living lizard in the world, growing to an average length of 2-3 meters (10 feet). In the wild large adults tend to weigh around 70kg (154 pounds). Captive specimens often weigh more. The largest verified specimen was 3.13 meters (10 feet 3 inches) long and weighed 166kg (365 pounds), including undigested food.
According to the local fairytale, Komodo was born as a human by a mother. The legend tells the story about local virgin named Putri Naga married with local man called Majo, they loved each other. Putri Naga or Dragon Princess in English version gave birth to twins named Ora and Gerong. The myth told Ora was daughter and Gerong was son. Unfortunately, Ora born as a lizard (Komodo) and Gerong born as a human being and grew up as normal as a human. So, the local people believe that Ora or Komodo dragon is a human being.
The dragons were 'discovered' by Westerners in 1910 when Lieutenant van Steyn van Hensbrock, a Dutchman stationed in Flores, followed up on local stories of a "land crocodile" and a report by a Dutch pearling fleet of a 6-7m long creature. A year later, he finally found and shot a specimen. He sent the skin and photographs to Peter A Ouwens of the Zoological Museum of Bogor, Java. Ouwens was intrigued and collected more specimens. After examining these, Ouwens wrote a paper in 1912 declaring them the largest lizards and suggesting their current name: Varanus Komodoensis. In 1915, the Dutch Colonial government protected the rare lizards, making it illegal to hunt or capture them without permission. Before this prohibition, up to 600 were killed a year as hunting trophies. However, little attention was paid to the dragons with the outbreak of World War I.
In 1926, after the war ended, Douglas Burden of the American Museum of Natural History undertook a serious expedition. He captured 27 specimens and studied more than 70. Only two of the dragons survived to be displayed at the Bronx Zoo, New York, but died shortly after. When Burden returned, he told his adventures to Merian C. Cooper, who produced the classic film King Kong! An exciting account of this expedition is at the Museum of Unnatural History.
Mating occurs between May and August, with the eggs laid in September. The female lays her eggs in the ground or in tree hollows, lending them some protection. Clutches usually contain an average of 20 eggs, and have an incubation period of 7 months. However, after the hatchlings are born, they are generally defenseless and many do not survive. Young Komodo dragons generally spend their first few years living in trees where they have a greater chance of survival. Komodo dragons take around five years to mature, growing to 2 meters in length, and they can live for up to 30 years.
5. Recent developments
Recently, new research using DNA analysis and other techniques at the University of Melbourne has questioned conventional wisdom and suggests that Komodo dragons and many other lizards are indeed venomous (or have venom-producing genes) and properly belong to a "venom clade" called Toxicofera. This new research calls into question the traditional view of evolution of the Squamata, and the DNA evidence now appears to indicate that modern lizards and snakes share an evolutionary ancestry that dates back more than 200 million years. This information has therefore caused many biologists to question the current classification of species in the order Squamata.
6. Saliva and bacteria
The saliva of a Komodo dragon contains over 50 types of bacteria. That is the reason why a Komodo's saliva is poisonous.