Ask a handful of people to name a kind of lizard and there’s a good chance at least a few of them will mention the Komodo dragon. As the largest lizard on the planet, there is plenty of myth and legend surrounding the Komodo dragon, but there are also plenty of facts that many people might not know. With that in mind, here are some of the most interesting facts about the giant Komodo dragon.
First off, you might believe that—given their name—Komodo dragons hail from the Indonesian island of Komodo. The truth might surprise you. According to recovered fossil records, Komodo dragons actually started out in Australia before they made their way to Komodo Island around 900,000 years ago. There are no Komodo dragons left in Australia today, and scientists believe that the last animal disappeared from the island about 50,000 years ago.
If the massive, 10-foot length that some Komodo dragons achieve isn’t enough to frighten you, consider the fact that Komodo dragons are also one of the few venomous species of lizard on the planet. For a long time, many believed that people were dying from Komodo dragon bites because the lizards’ mouths contain a massive amount of bacteria and the deaths were caused by infection. The truth is that the dragons’ saliva contains venom that can rival some of the world’s most venomous snakes. A bite from the dragon creates a wound and the saliva seeps in to introduce the venom.
In a much lesser-known bit of trivia, Komodo dragons were actually the inspiration for 1933’s King Kong. In short, a scientist wrote a paper on the giant dragons of Komodo Island, which went on to inspire a future expedition to the island and eventually, the Hollywood film that still graces the screens with spin-offs and sequels today.
One of the most interesting facts about Komodo dragons is that they can reproduce asexually. If there are no males in the area, the females of the species are capable of laying eggs on their own through a process known as parthenogenesis.