The infamous Komodo Dragon (Varanus Komodoensis) is notorious for taking down prey with a toxic cocktail of bacteria in it's saliva. The Komodo dragon has an infamous reputation for not only being the largest living lizard, but having such a dirty mouth that anything it bites will surely die of sepsis. A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, however, says this may not be the case.A team of biologists has dissected every aspect of Komodo Dragon prey prehension, from bite strength, jaw movement, and teeth, to the final kill. They studied the bacteria in it's mouth, and took MRIs of the head of a Komodo which died of natural causes. These researchers demonstrated that there are in fact venom glands in the mouths of Komodo Dragons, and that they have a means to deliver that venom to the prey with an ample ability to incapacitate that prey. Furthermore, they claim that the bacteria in the mouths of Komodo Dragons is nothing special compared to that in the mouths of other lizards, and bodies of other animals.
The MRI showed glands capable of holding what they determined to be enough venom to incapacitate even large prey. The chemical makeup of the venom suggests it functions by dropping blood pressure and inducing shock. Indeed when Komodo Dragons bite their prey they stalk them as they get weaker, before ultimately consuming them. The method of venom deposit is thought to be through introduction to the bite wound, as ducts were visible dumping between the teeth.
This discovery is so significant as it is direct evidence that there is so much more to know about even well researched wild life. The Komodo Dragon, which almost everyone knows about for its size and famous saliva, has actually had venom that has only recently been discovered! With huge advances in technology I would expect to see more cool discoveries throughout the flora and fauna of our natural world.
Michael Ball (1)