6 WEIRD FACTS ABOUT THE ANCIENT KOMODO DRAGON
Several studies have been carried out by examining fossils scattered in the eastern part of the Australian continent, with ages ranging from 300,000 years old fossils to those around four million years ago, and by comparing them with current Komodo bones, the comparison is exactly the same or identical.
The existing and living Komodo dragons (Varanus Komodoensis) are only found in Indonesia, precisely on the islands of Komodo, Flores Island, Gili Motang Island, Padar Island and Rinca Island. It is the biggest Lizard that lives today, and has existed four million years ago.
Below are facts about Komodo Dragon that you may have never heard of, and may not be explained and heard from a guide ranger who will you later meet on Rinca Island and Komodo Island when you are doing Komodo trekking. To see this rare species directly, it can only be reached by crossing the island by using a boat starting from Soekarno Hatta Port in Labuan Bajo to one of these islands. Komodo Islands also part of Komodo National Park area and therefore you must have an access by buying a ticket at Ranger’s office and must be followed and guided by one or two rangers for protection.
1. KOMODO DRAGON AS AN INSPIRATION FOR KING KONG MOVIE YEAR 1933
Merian C. Copper, creator of the 1933 King Kong movie, tells the story of a giant ape terrorizing New York City. He didn't immediately come up with an idea from his own dream. Rather, the idea was inspired by the story of his friend, William Douglas Burden, an adventurer and naturalist from the American Museum of Natural History, who conducted an expedition to Komodo Island in 1926.
Having previously obtained permission from the Dutch Government to collect specimens of Komodo Dragon located in Dutch East Indies (Now Modern Indonesia), William traveled with a cameraman, a professor in Herpetology and with his own wife. Arriving at the Komodo Islands, he was assisted by a local king or Raja in those days along with their 15 hunters who helped them set traps. Unfortunately, they brought the Komodo dragon to America, exhibited at the Bronx Zoo and left to die and be preserved. It's recorded to be the museum most famous exhibit in the history.
In his writing, William mentions that Komodo Island is different from other islands in Indonesia. He called it "haunting and mysterious".
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Photo courtesy of American Museum of Natural History
2. KOMODO DRAGON HAS POWERFUl VENOM AND INFECTIOUS BITE IS A MYTH
Many people, including local rangers on Komodo islands believe that the Komodo Dragon’s deadly bite is because it contains highly toxic bacteria that cause horrible infection.
But the latest findings based on research conducted by the University of Australia’s Research Team led by Bryan Fry, said different things. He able to prove that a bite full of bacteria is a myth. He discovered that there were poison glands found in the jaws of Komodo dragon’s lower teeth which caused blood to become thick and kill the victims.
This finding was then confirmed by a team from the Singapore Zoo that performed surgery on the glands found in Komodo dragons at that time. Genetic and chemical analysis shows that there are venomous substances, including chemical substances that cause blood coagulation which could cause extreme low blood pressure, potentially inducing shock, if injected into a mammal.
3. THEY CAN CLIMB AND THEY CAN SWIM
There are only two options to see the dragons when you are sail with Komodo boat, which is on Rinca Island or commonly known as Loh Buaya, and on Komodo Island itself, locally known as Loh Liang. The dragons on Rinca Island (Loh Buaya) are more active and aggressive, compared to the dragons at Komodo Island. On Loh Liang, most tourists called them Lazy Komodos because people from National Park keep fed them until they're bloated so they become harmful and losing its instinct to hunt. So for those who want to feel a more challenging atmosphere, Rinca Island will be much more interesting and quite adventurous.
Most Komodo dragons found on these islands are adults. Not many are lucky to find Komodo dragons that are still young. The young ones are far more aggressive and hiding up in the trees for several years, because adult Komodo dragons are cannibalistic animals and the male species most likely to eat small baby dragons. That’s why the little ones prefer to hide on taller trees. Adult Komodo dragons are harder to climb trees because of their size and weight which makes them difficult to maneuver.
Adult Komodo dragons are also able to swim from the coast to a distance of no more than 100 meters. Therefore if you try to escape from these monsters on land, you may be able to escape up a tree to get away from the big one, only to run into plenty of ferocious little Komodo dragons. Try to run to the beach, they still be able to chase you up to 100 meters in shallow water, and don't forget, both in Loh Liang and Loh Buaya bays there are plenty of sea crocodiles as well lurking below the mangrove trees. so watch out.
4. GRAVE ROBBER
Komodo dragons have a keen sense of smell, and wild Komodo dragons scattered in the Komodo islands used to excavate human graves and eat corpses buried in it. Komodo dragons belong to the monitor lizard category, and the monitor lizard likes to eat carcasses. It is believed that the Komodo dragons that have eaten human corpses or bite humans alive have more sensitive smell to human odors and human blood. For this reason the Komodo National Park office applies a rule that for visitors who have open wounds that have not fully healed, or for women who are on her period, to report their condition to the local office in order to be given extra protection from more than two rangers.
Each year there’s always a story of human being bit by Komodo dragon. Last year in 2017 an avid Singaporean photographer named Loh Lee Aik was bitten by Komodo because he walked too far from the ranger because he wanted to get a snap. "It takes less than a second, and I only saw its shadow," he said.
That’s why following Ranger’s instruction is a must and never scattered from your group for your own safety.
5. DISGUSTING DEFENCE MECHANISM
Baby Komodo dragons have difficult lives in their first few years, because in addition to having to find their own food, they must avoid adult male Komodo dragons from being eaten and used as snacks.
For this reason, these baby dragons use a protective mechanism against themselves by covering their entire body with their own feces. The odor that is produced from this defense mechanism is enough to interfere with the smell of adult Komodo dragons and repulses them.
The female Komodo Dragons, which are isolated on a remote island, has evolved and developed the rare skill of Parthenogenesis, which is the ability to multiply without being fertilized by male Komodo dragons.
This was just discovered in 2006. Previously Parthenogenesis was commonly known in small organisms such as aphids, but was never heard before in animals as complex and as large as komodo dragons.
The eggs and embryos of Parthenogenesis reslts will always end up being a male Komodo dragon, and therefore, the females can then mate with their own child.