Serrated teeth, venom make Komodo bite deadlier

May 19th, 2009 - 1:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, May 19 (IANS) Serrated teeth and venom impart a deadlier edge to the bite of a Komodo Dragon than previously assumed, according to a new study.
Using sophisticated medical imaging techniques, a team led by Bryan Fry from the University of Melbourne (U-M) have revealed that the Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis) has the most complex venom glands yet described for any reptile.

“These large carnivorous reptiles are known to bite prey and release them, leaving the prey to bleed to death from the horrific wounds inflicted. We have now shown that it is the combined arsenal of the Komodo Dragon’s tooth and venom that account for their hunting prowess,” said Fry from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Melbourne.

“The combination of this specialised bite and venom seem to minimise the dragon’s contact with its prey and this allows it to take large animals,” he added.

The study authors also dismissed the widely accepted theory that prey die from septicemia caused by toxic bacteria living in the dragon’s mouth.

Komodo Dragons are native to the islands of Indonesia, with adult males weighing over 100 kg, and exceeding 3 metres in length. They have around 60 highly serrated teeth which are frequently replaced during their lifetime, said an U-M release.

The work is slated for publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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