Friday, November 18, 2005

"The Surprising Origin of Venom Revealed"

Wow. Seems like lizards are more poisonous that we thought. And that makes the Komodo dragon truly frightening.

Bacteria has long been blamed as the aggravating agent in a Komodo dragon's nasty bite. [Bryan Fry at the University of Melbourne, Australia] now suspects otherwise.

"Bacteria couldn't work this quickly," he said. "The effects are totally inconsistent with bacteria."

The effects – a drop in blood pressure, loss of clotting ability, amplified pain, and loss of consciousness – are more biologically consistent with venom.

The Komodo dragon is scary looking all on its own, but its fearsome reputation is enhanced by the knowledge that its bite is deadly. Since the lizard often eats carrion, it was assumed that massive amounts of bacteria lived in the Komodo's mouth, and that very nasty infections killed anyone unfortunate to get chomped by one.

But now, it seems possible that the Komodo dragon is actually venomous. That's scary. Let's see Steve Irwin wrestle one of those to the ground.

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