Canon Rebel XTi ~ 70-300mm Canon lens
f5 ~ 1/200s ~ ISO 800
Looked like this big fellow had recently had a meal. He’s still a bit bulgy in the throat.
The Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis), also known as the Komodo monitor, is a large species of lizard found in the Indonesian islands of Komodo, Rinca, Flores, Gili Motang and Gili Dasami. A member of the monitor lizard family (Varanidae), it is the largest living species of lizard, growing to a maximum length of 3 metres (9.8 ft) in rare cases and weighing up to around 70 kilograms (150 lb). Their unusual size has been attributed to island gigantism, since there are no other carnivorous animals to fill the niche on the islands where they live.
However, recent research suggests that the large size of Komodo dragons may be better understood as representative of a relict population of very large varanid lizards that once lived across Indonesia and Australia, most of which, along with other megafauna, died out after the Pleistocene. Fossils very similar to V. komodoensis have been found in Australia dating to greater than 3.8 million years ago, and its body size remained stable on Flores, one of the handful of Indonesian islands where it is currently found, over the last 900,000 years, “a time marked by major faunal turnovers, extinction of the island’s megafauna, and the arrival of early hominids by 880 ka.”
As a result of their size, these lizards dominate the ecosystems in which they live. Komodo dragons hunt and ambush prey including invertebrates, birds, and mammals. Their group behaviour in hunting is exceptional in the reptile world. The diet of big Komodo dragons mainly consists of deer, though they also eat considerable amounts of carrion.
Taken at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Washington (USA)
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