Navigation Links
A combined tooth-venom arsenal revealed as key to Komodo dragon's hunting strategy
Date:5/18/2009

A combined tooth-venom arsenal revealed as key to Komodo Dragon's hunting strategy.

A new study has shown that the effectiveness of the Komodo Dragon bite is a combination of highly specialized serrated teeth and venom. The authors also dismiss the widely accepted theory that prey die from septicemia caused by toxic bacteria living in the dragon's mouth.

Using sophisticated medical imaging techniques, an international team led by Dr Bryan Fry from the University of Melbourne have revealed that the Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis) has the most complex venom glands yet described for any reptile, and that its close extinct relative Megalania was the largest venomous animal to have lived.

The work will be published in the next issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and will be available in the Online Edition this week.

"These large carnivorous reptiles are known to bite prey and release them, leaving the prey to bleed to death from the horrific wounds inflicted. We have now shown that it is the combined arsenal of the Komodo Dragon's tooth and venom that account for their hunting prowess," said Dr Fry from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Bio21 Institute at the University of Melbourne.

"The combination of this specialized bite and venom seem to minimise the Dragon's contact with its prey and this allows it to take large animals."

Komodo Dragons are native to the islands of Indonesia, with adult males weighing over 100kg, and exceeding 3 metres in length. They have around 60 highly serrated teeth which are frequently replaced during their lifetime.

The researchers conducted a comprehensive study of the Komodo Dragon bite, employing computer techniques to analyze stress in a dragon's jaws and compare them to those of a crocodile. The dragons were found to have much weaker bites than crocodiles, but magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of a preserved dragon head revealed complex venom glands and specialised serrated teeth which create deep lacerations for entry of the venom.

"We believe that the dragon is able to weaken and immobilize their prey with a venomous bite that increases the damage done by their long serrated teeth," said Dr Fry.

The researchers located and surgically excised the glands from a terminally ill dragon at the Singapore Zoo, and used mass spectrometry to obtain a profile of the venom molecules. The team also analysed which toxin genes were expressed in the dragon's venom gland.

The effects of venom were also tested by the team and found to be similar to that of the gila monster and many snakes which cause a severe loss in blood pressure by widening blood vessels, thereby inducing shock in a victim. These findings may explain the observations by Dr Fry and others that Komodo Dragon prey become still and unusually quiet soon after being bitten. Bitten prey also bleed profusely, consistent with the team's discovery that the venom was also rich in toxins that prolong bleeding.

The researchers also examined fossils of the Dragon's giant extinct relative Megalania (Varanus priscus). From similarities in skull anatomy they determined that this seven metre lizard would have used a similar venom and bite system, making it the largest venomous animal to have ever lived.


'/>"/>

Contact: Nerissa Hannink
nhannink@hotmail.com
61-383-448-151
University of Melbourne
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Sociological research shows combined impact of genetics, social factors on delinquency
2. Bee species outnumber mammals and birds combined
3. Measurement Specialties, Inc. Announces Impact of German Business Tax Reform 2008 Resulting in Lower Combined German Tax Rate - Impacts 2Q08 Reported Financial Results
4. Extended wakefulness, combined with alcohol, severely impairs driving performance
5. Details of bacterial injection system revealed
6. The fragility of the worlds coral is revealed through a study of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands
7. Source of major health benefits in olive oil revealed
8. Evolutionary origin of bacterial chromosomes revealed
9. Mountain caribous ancient ancestry revealed
10. Properties of unusual virus revealed in research
11. Origin of root offshoots revealed
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:12/15/2016)... ... announced the addition of the "Global Military Biometrics Market 2016-2020" ... military biometrics market to grow at a CAGR of 7.5% during the ... an in-depth market analysis with inputs from industry experts. The report covers ... report also includes a discussion of the key vendors operating in this ...
(Date:12/12/2016)... 12, 2016  Researchers at Trinity College, Dublin, ... by combining the material with Silly Putty. The mixture ... detector able to sense pulse, blood pressure, respiration, ... The research team,s findings were ... here:  http://science.sciencemag.org/content/354/6317/1257 ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... , December 7, 2016 BioCatch , ... expansion of its patent portfolio, which grew to over 40 granted and ... , , ... recently filed patent entitled " System, Device, and Method Estimating ... that enables device makers to forego costly hardware components needed to estimate ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/11/2017)... USA (PRWEB) , ... January 11, 2017 , ... ... the international society for optics and photonics , are commending the U.S. Congress ... following the signing Friday by the President of the American Innovation and Competitiveness ...
(Date:1/11/2017)... CA (PRWEB) , ... January 11, 2017 , ... ... of in-kind scientific grants to ground-breaking microbiome studies. Its most recent microbiome impact ... of Medicine, who will study the effect of long-term use of oral antibiotics, ...
(Date:1/11/2017)... ... ... Back pain relief technology is now available without a prescription at What A ... for WAR members. , This spinal restoration platform boasts utilization of technology that has ... from chronic back pain. , What A Relief Back Pain Centers ( ...
(Date:1/11/2017)... Md. , Jan. 11, 2017  GenVec, ... gene delivery company, announced today that its chief ... present a talk entitled  "AdenoVerseā„¢ platform for translational ... the Biotech Showcase at the upcoming Phacilitate Cell ... Miami , Florida.  Dr. Brough,s presentation ...
Breaking Biology Technology: