Mar
24
2009

Fruit burglar killed by dragons

A Komodo dragon gnaws on a water buffalo: The buffalo may or may not have been on a quest.
A Komodo dragon gnaws on a water buffalo: The buffalo may or may not have been on a quest.Courtesy Mats Stafseng Einarsen
In a classic case of life-imitates-art, a man on a quest was attacked by dragons early this week.

Although… appreciation of the above statement depends on your ability to accept “Harry Potter” as art, and your willingness to interpret a fatal animal attack as anything other than a tragedy.

Neither point is a problem for me.

Indonesian adventurer/fisherman Muhamad Anwar was questing on a forbidden isle at the time of the attack. Anwar’s quest mostly involved searching around for sugar-apples, but still, the whole thing is very Goblet of Fire, I’d say. So let’s say he was looking for dragon eggs, instead of sugar-apples.

Questing for dragon eggs on a forbidden island probably always involves some hazards, but this particular forbidden island happens to be forbidden because it’s part of Indonesia’s Komodo National Park. That means that it has actual dragons. Oooh.

Whether or not Anwar found any dragon eggs was not made clear in the article, but he certainly found some dragons. Or they found him. Anwar was severely mauled by a group of Komodo dragons, and bled to death as a group of fishermen took him to a clinic on a nearby island.

Komodo dragons are the heaviest lizards in the world (an easy 150 pounds in the wild, with captive individuals growing even larger), and they’re carnivorous, which makes them pretty frightening and fascinating right off the bat. There are a few additional characteristics of Komodo dragons, however, that should be taken into consideration when questing in dragon country.

1) Komodo dragons have poor hearing. So, when on an egg quest, be sure to sneak quietly. Note from the author to the author: John, This doesn't make any sense.
2) Komodo dragons do, however, have an exceptional sense of smell. Or, if not smell exactly, chemical analysis. Komodo dragons sample the air with their long forked tongues, and use a Jacobson’s organ like snakes. So be sure to sneak quietly and odorlessly.
3) Komodo dragons have huge teeth and bloody spit. Komodo dragon teeth can grow up to an inch long, but gum tissue covers most of each teeth. That means that when the dragons do much chewing… things get bloody. The bloody saliva, however, makes a nice environment for item number 4.
4) Komodo dragon bites are way toxic. Many monitors (the larger group of lizards that Komodo dragons belong to) have slightly venomous bites, which cause swelling, shooting pain, and disruption of blood clotting. The main danger from the bites, though, is the massive colony of toxic bacteria each Komodo dragon keeps in its mouth. Dozens of species of bacteria have been isolated in dragon mouths, and if an animal isn’t killed by a Komodo dragon’s initial attack, it will generally die within a week anyway, thanks to massive bacterial infection. So be sure to pack your protection from poison potions (or just a ton of powerful antibiotics).
5) Komodo dragons are capable of parthenogenesis. Think, “Jurassic Park,” and you’ve got it. In the absence of male individuals, a female Komodo dragon can still produce offspring. Where the sex of humans is determined by the pairing of X and Y chromosomes (you get one from each parent, if you’re XX, you’re a girl, if XY, you’re a boy), Komodo dragon sex is determined by “ZW” chromosomes. ZZ individuals are male, and ZWs are female. A mother dragon can give one Z chromosome to an egg, and the egg will duplicate that chromosome to become a ZZ individual, a male. If the mother passes on a single W chromosome, the egg may still duplicate it, but WW individuals aren’t viable, and never develop to hatching. So even if a forbidden island was cleared of male dragons, it still may not be safe for questing in the following generations.

All things considered, it’s probably best to avoid Komodo dragons entirely on quests. Unless you’re questing to the zoo.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Thor's picture
Thor says:

This reminds me of when the Minnesota Zoo got its very own Komodo Dragon. It was put into an enclosure with flamingos and the next morning zoo keepers arrived to find K.D. with a pair of long flamingo legs coming out from his mouth. And that's how they learned that Komodo Dragons will eat a flamingo if it's available.

posted on Tue, 03/24/2009 - 5:13pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

If Komodo dragons have poor hearing, then you can sneak as loudly as you please. In fact, it is encouraged that you do so -- the other island inhabitants enjoy listening to the amusing sounds of the victims' screams...

posted on Fri, 03/27/2009 - 1:30pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Yeah... what the heck was I saying? Seriously, I think two ideas collided there, and they both died. Honestly, JGordon, get it together.

posted on Fri, 03/27/2009 - 1:39pm

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