Thursday, May 21, 2009

Komodo dragons use poison

Back on May 4, in a post on the new Komodo dragons (Varanus komodoensis) at the Jacksonville Zoo, I repeated the received wisdom that they kill by introducing bacteria into their prey when they bite them. Researchers are now reporting, however, that they really are venomous, and that the poison is similar to that of some snakes:
"The view that the Komodo routinely kills using dirty oral bacteria is wrong," said Dr Stephen Wroe from the University of New South Wales in Australia, a co-author of the report. "The dragon is truly poisonous. It has modified salivary glands that ... allows it to kill large animals through rapid blood loss."
Live and learn.

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