A dragon still exists today to teach humans to respect the folklore of dragons. The daunting patience of the Komodo dragon, its slavering jaws, forked thick yellow tongue, and reptilian inhumanity are all traits that make it truly a dragon. It would take courage to journey to the hunting grounds of this dragon and confront it with a spear or sword.
The Southeast Asian
and several tiny islands of the Lesser Sundas are home to the famous Komodo dragon (Varanus komodensis). It is the largest living and scientifically recorded lizard species. Well known as a killer of people, it will typically achieve a weight of 150 pounds in the wild with males growing larger than females.
Many strains of deadly bacteria grow in the mouth of the Komodo dragon, and when it bites an animal or a human, the bacteria is injected into the wound. If the prey escapes the initial attack, the bacteria will cause an irreversible infection that will kill the animal within a few days. The Komodo dragon has an excellent sense of smell, and it will track down its dying victim and eat it. Described as stealthy hunters, Komodo dragons strike at their prey with a short surge of speed.
Komodo dragons lack sentimentality in their hunting and are even known to consume hatchling and juvenile dragons. This is why the hatchlings live in the trees for a few years. They are safer in the trees, where they can bulk up before joining the dragon-eat-dragon world on the ground. This interesting aspect of Komodo dragon development ties in with the mythology of Chinese dragons that says that dragons go through several metamorphic phases before reaching maturity.
The dire size of the Komodo dragon is explained by the fact that the species is isolated on islands. Although island habitats can cause dwarfism in herbivores and plants, the opposite can occur with an uncontested predator such as the Komodo dragon. As the lord of its realm, this dragon is the top predator and is able to grow large as it glories in its kingly success.
"Dragons: A Natural History." 1995. Dr. Karl Shuker.
. Page 76.
"Komodo Dragon." Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Komodo_dragon
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