A Komodo dragon was captured on video attacking and envenoming a water buffalo.
Komodo dragons are extraordinary animals. Growing to 10 feet in length and weighing up to 150 pounds, these guys are the largest species of lizard on the planet. (The largest ever recorded was a staggering 366 pounds!) When they were first documented by Europeans in 1910, they were originally known as “land crocodiles” due to their size and appearance.
What’s unusual about these lizards is their teeth; when they open their mouths, they look toothless, with a mouth full of gums. That’s because all of their 60 razor-sharp teeth are covered in thick, fleshy gingival tissue. When they chomp down, their teeth actually cut through their gums, causing excessive bleeding. This is one reason why their mouths are so bacteria-laden; They cut their own mouths to pieces.
While Komodo dragons enjoy dining on carrion, they’re actually exceptional hunters. These colossal lizards are apex predators that hunt and ambush their prey, biting the animal’s underside or throat. They’ll then slice off flesh with their serrated teeth. (Yikes!)
For decades, scientists assumed Komodo dragons subdued their prey solely with bacteria-laden saliva. However, since 2005, scientists have unraveled many clues that suggest Komodo dragons — as well as other monitor lizards — possess venom glands.
Today, there is still debate over the role the venom glands play; however, this video appears to provide further evidence in support of the claim that Komodo dragons use their venom to take down prey.
Komodo dragons are found only on the Indonesian islands of Komodo, Gili Motang, Flores, and Rinca, and are — like so many other animals — listed as endangered as a result of habitat loss and poaching.