The Most Deadliest Reptile Existed
30 Jul 2015
Reptiles, the class Reptilia, are an evolutionary grade of animals, comprising today’s turtles, crocodilians, snakes, lizards and tuatara, their extinct relatives, and some of the extinct ancestors of mammals. The world is home to some deadly and dangerous reptiles. The deadliest reptiles on our planet have a plethora of ways to kill or disable their prey, biting using their fearsome teeth, immobilizing using venomous saliva or by coiling the prey around their body.
The Komodo dragon, also known as the Komodo monitor, is a large species of lizard found in the Indonesian islands of Komodo, Rinca, Flores, Gili Motang, and Padar. Komodo dragon is widely known as the most deadliest reptile ever existed. A member of the monitor lizard family Varanidae and it is the largest living species of lizard, growing to a maximum length of 3 meters in rare cases and weighing up to approximately 70 kilograms.
Their unusually large size has been attributed to island gigantism, since no other carnivorous animals fill the niche on the islands where they live. However, recent research suggests the large size of Komodo dragons may be better understood as representative of a relict population of very large varanid lizards that once lived across Indonesia and Australia, most of which, along with other megafauna, died out after the Pleistocene. Fossils very similar to V. komodoensis have been found in Australia dating to greater than 3.8 million years ago, and its body size remained stable on Flores, one of the handful of Indonesian islands where it is currently found, over the last 900,000 years, “a time marked by major faunal turnovers, extinction of the island’s megafauna, and the arrival of early hominids by 880 ka [kiloannums].
As with other Varanids, Komodo dragons have only a single ear bone, the stapes, for transferring vibrations from the tympanic membrane to the cochlea. Their hearing range is 10 times lower than a human. At first, it was formerly thought to be deaf, but as the current study reported they respond to whispers, raised voices, or shouts.
The Komodo dragon can see objects as far away as 300 meters, but because its retinas only contain cones, they have poor night vision.
The Komodo dragon uses its tongue to detect, taste, and smell stimuli, as with many other reptiles, with the vomeronasal sense using the Jacobson’s organ, rather than using the nostrils. With the help of a favorable wind and its habit of swinging its head from side to side as it walks, a Komodo dragon may be able to detect carrion from 4–9.5 km away. Its scales, some of which are reinforced with bone, have sensory plaques connected to nerves to facilitate its sense of touch. The scales around the ears, lips, chin, and soles of the feet may have three or more sensory plaques.
In 2005, researchers at the University of Melbourne speculated the perentie (Varanus giganteus), other species of monitors, and agamids may be somewhat venomous. 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. varius), a Komodo dragon, and a spotted tree monitor (V. scalaris) all produced similar effects: rapid swelling, localized disruption of blood clotting, and shooting pain up to the elbow, with some symptoms lasting for several hours. As for the latest studies, shock and blood loss are also a primary factor.
The Komodo Dragon stalks the forested lowlands, beaches and plateaus of Indonesia, posing a threat to nearly every living thing as a prehistoric apex predator. The 10 foot, 300 pound beast is the largest lizards on Earth. Komodos feed on prey as large as water buffalo, and have attacked, dismembered and consumed humans. Such large prey items are charged and knocked down, followed by a vicious attack involving large amounts of flesh being removed. The toxic saliva and bacteria will weaken an animal that does not die right away. Scientists have theorized that the Komodo evolved to feed on now extinct dwarf island elephants.
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