Image of komodo dragon eating an egg

Genome study finds roots of Komodo dragon’s tenaciousness

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Scientists have mapped the genome of the Komodo dragon, the world’s largest lizard, discovering intriguing secrets behind the impressive speed and endurance these cold-blooded predators muster by ratcheting up their metabolism to mammal-like levels.

Researchers said on Monday they pinpointed crucial genetic adaptations that may underpin the tenaciousness of these lizards that inhabit several Indonesian islands including Komodo and bring down prey as big as a water buffalo with a venomous bite.

Komodo dragons reach up to about 10 feet (3 meters) long, possess curved and serrated teeth, a yellow forked tongue, strong limbs and a long tail.

“This is an apex predator living on isolated islands, and it’s absolutely gigantic. It’s just an awesome animal,” said Benoit Bruneau, director of the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, affiliated with the University of California, San Francisco, one of the senior authors of the study published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.

“Reptiles are kind of like a playground for evolution. There is so much diversity in size and form and behavior and their physiology,” Bruneau added.




Gladstone Institutes



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