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Komodo Dragons reveal the chain of bones beneath their skin

Komodo Dragons reveal the chain of bones beneath their skin

Komodo dragons are scientifically known as Varanus komodoensis. One of our planet’s most enormous, fiercest, most impressive lizards, just got that much more incredible. A fresh discovery demonstrates that these animals are covered under their scaly skin in mail-like armor made from small bones, from nose to tail tip.

 

Why would a Komodo dragon need armor, you ask? These lizards are dominant, they are quick, they are venomous, and they can bring much bigger prey down than themselves, and their species maybe millions of years ancient.

Well, according to current studies, there is likely armor to safeguard the lizards from themselves that are other dragons from Komodo.

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The clue is when during their growth, these lizards develop their bone-mail. Austin and Fort Worth Zoo researchers at the University of Texas performed thorough CT scans of freshly dead Komodo dragons, an adult and a juvenile.

Researchers at The University of Texas studied the animals and found their protective armor covers them from head to tail, making them more robust in battle.

Despite being the world’s most giant lizard and the dominant predator in their natural habitat, they still need protection – but only from other Komodo dragons.

Scientists determined this after scanning the reptiles with high-powered X-rays.

Using computed tomography (CT scan) technology, scientists revealed the natural armor of the beasts to look inside and digitally reconstruct the bodies of two dead dragon samples — one adult and one child.

The adult was well-equipped with armor, but in the child, it was absent.

It is a finding that indicates that it is not until adulthood that the bony plates appear. And other dragons are the only thing that adult dragons need protection from.

Young comodo dragons are spending quite some time in forests,’ Professor Christopher Bell said.

It is a finding that indicates that it is not until adulthood that the bony plates appear. And other dragons are the only thing that adult dragons need protection from.

‘And when they’re large enough to come out of the trees, that’s when they start getting in arguments with members of their species. That would be a point when extra armor would benefit’, added Bell.

Many varieties of lizards have bones embedded in their skin known as osteoderms. Scientists had known about osteoderms present in Komodo dragons since at least the 1920s when naturalist William D. Burden noted their ubiquity as an obstruction to the mass production of dragon leather.

But since the skin is the first organ that is removed when making a skeleton, scientists do not have much information about how they are shaped or arranged inside the surface or thoughts about what they’re used for.

The researchers were able to surmount this issue by analyzing the dragons at UT’s High-Resolution X-ray Computed Tomography Facility.

Journal Reference: The Anatomical Record

 

About the author: Kshitij Kumar Moderator
Kshitij has always been passionate about Science and Technology. He is a Mechanical Engineering graduate from IIT Jodhpur. Kshitij has worked in many fields of Science and Marketing. Along with managing backend and technicalities of the website, he is also one of our editors and marketing managers. Kshitij was the one who came up with the idea of connecting people interested in Science and built a team which is now ScienceHook.

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