Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Komodos are venomous

For a long time, people in the know thought the bites of Komodo dragons were deadly because of the septic properties of their mouths. Supposedly the high levels of bacteria left behind by a bite were enough to kill a person with infection.

Now they think otherwise.

SYDNEY (AFP) – The world's largest lizard, the Komodo dragon, has a snake-like venom in its bite which sends victims into shock and stops their blood from clotting, according to Australian research.

It had been widely believed that deadly bacteria in the carnivorous lizard's mouth helped kill its prey.

But magnetic resonance imagery has for the first time uncovered venom glands containing a shock-inducing poison which increases blood flow and decreases blood pressure, scientists say.

Lead researcher Bryan Fry said three-dimensional computer imaging comparing the Komodo's bite with that of Australia's saltwater crocodile showed it used a "grip and rip" pulling manoeuvre to tear deep wounds, similar to a shark or sabre cat.

Fry surgically removed a venom gland from a terminally ill Komodo at Singapore Zoo for the study, and said it contained a highly toxic poison which would induce potent stomach cramps, hypothermia and a drop in blood pressure.

Can those damn creatures get much more scary than that? First, they're big. Second, they're fast and aggressive. Now, they're poisonous. Geez, what else can this monster muster to scare us?

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