Navigation Links
Komodo even more deadly than thought: Research
Date:5/18/2009

The carnivorous reptiles (Varanus komodoensis) are known to bite prey and release them, leaving them to bleed to death from their wounds: the victims are reported to go into shock before the dragons kill and eat them.

Some researchers believe that prey are killed by pathogenic bacteria in the dragons' mouths but the new research published in the latest issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that the combination of the reptiles' teeth and venom likely accounts for their hunting prowess.

"The view that the Komodo routinely kills using dirty oral bacteria is wrong," says research co-author, Dr Stephen Wroe from the University of New South Wales, Australia. "The dragon is truly poisonous. It has modified salivary glands that deliver both hypertensive and anti-blood-clotting agents, which, in combination with lightweight but sophisticated cranial and dental adaptations, allows it to kill large animals through rapid blood loss."

The researchers used computer modeling to analyse the Komodo dragon bite and found that dragons have much weaker bites than crocodiles of a similar size. However, magnetic resonance imaging revealed the dragons have complex venom glands as well.

After surgically excising the glands from a terminally ill dragon in a zoo, the researchers used mass spectrometry to obtain a profile of the venom, finding that the toxin was similar to that of the Gila monster and many snakes. The venom causes a severe loss in blood pressure by preventing blood clotting and widening blood vessels, thus inducing shock in a victim.

The researchers also examined fossils of the giant extinct dragon relative Varanus megalania and determined that this seven-metre-long lizard was one of the largest venomous animals to have ever lived.

A member of the goanna family with ancestors dating back more than 100 million years, the Komodo dragon is the world's largest living lizard and inhabits the central Indonesian islands of Komodo, Rinca, Flores, Gili Motang and Gili Dasami. It grows to an average length of two to three metres and weighs around 70 kilograms. The reptile's unusual size is attributed to a phenomenon known as island gigantism, since there are no other carnivorous mammals to fill the niche on the islands where they live.

The lizards are apex predators and dominate the ecosystems in which they live. Although Komodo dragons eat carrion, they also hunt and ambush prey including invertebrates, birds, and mammals.

The dragon's large size and fearsome reputation has made it a popular zoo exhibit since Western scientists first brought it to world attention in 1910. In the wild its total population is estimated at 4,000 to 5,000. Its range has contracted due to human activities and it is listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.


'/>"/>

Contact: Dr. Steve Wroe
s.wroe@unsw.edu.au
61-425-330-273
University of New South Wales
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Scripps research team blocks bacterial communication system to prevent deadly staph infections
2. Northwestern to expose most deadly infectious diseases in 3-D
3. Best treatment identified to reduce deadly Staph infections
4. Research unveils new hope for deadly childhood disease
5. Deadly genetic disease prevented before birth in zebrafish
6. Ayurvedic nightshade deadly for dengue mosquito
7. Sydney harbors deadly diet for sea creatures
8. New vaccine may give long-term defense against deadly bird flu and its variant forms
9. Deadly dose: Rensselaer heparin expert helps uncover source of lethal contamination
10. Deadly rugby virus spreads in sumo wrestlers
11. 15-state Southern obesity summit to focus on deadly epidemic
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:12/7/2016)... 7, 2016   Avanade is helping Williams ... teams in history, exploit biometric data in order to ... maintain the competitive edge against their rivals after their ... Avanade has worked with Williams during the 2016 ... data (heart rate, breathing rate, temperature and peak acceleration) ...
(Date:12/6/2016)... Securus Technologies, a leading provider of ... safety, investigation, corrections and monitoring, and the Prison ... (5) year funding commitment by Securus to PEP ... and reentry support to more inmates and their ... the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP) is an independent ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... Nov. 30, 2016 Not many of us realize that we spend ? ... so we need to do it well. Inadequate sleep levels have been found to ... stroke, diabetes, and even cancer. Maybe now is the best time to ... help them to manage their sleep quality? Continue Reading ... ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/8/2016)... , Dec. 8, 2016 Eurofins announces the appointment ... and President of Eurofins Scientific Inc. (ESI). Mr. ... his proven professional and entrepreneurial experience in leading international business teams. ... US food testing market to uphold Eurofins, status as the global ... ...
(Date:12/8/2016)...  Anaconda BioMed S.L., a pre-clinical stage medical device ... neuro-thrombectomy system for the treatment of Acute Ischemic Stroke ... to join its Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). The SAB ... scientific and clinical experts to Anaconda BioMed S.L., as ... ® to its clinical phase. The SAB is ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... 2016  Soligenix, Inc. (OTCQB: SNGX) (Soligenix or ... developing and commercializing products to treat rare diseases ... today the long-term follow-up data from its Phase ... Innate Defense Regulator (IDR), in the treatment of ... patients undergoing chemoradiation therapy (CRT).  The additional 12-month ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... -- Partnering to fuel Philadelphia,s innovative ... Southeastern Pennsylvania (" Ben Franklin "); ... Blue Cross; and Safeguard Scientifics ("Safeguard") (NYSE: ... million funding initiative over a four year period to ... a burgeoning economic vitality in digital health, Ben ...
Breaking Biology Technology: