Komodo dragons are the largest lizards in the world, they can be up to 10 feet long, and weigh up to 300 pounds. Despite their huge size they can pounce on their prey incredibly quickly and have remarkable stamina that allows them to follow their prey after an initial bite, until they finally succumb to exhaustion. Until now it has been unclear how these enormous lizards are able to do so.
A team of researchers from the Gladstone Institutes, Zoo Atlanta and University of California, San Francisco have now been able to sequence the genome of the Komodo dragon. Analysis has shown genetic adaptations linked to the mitochondria, the so-called powerhouse of the cells. This adaptation would explain the Komodo’s ability to sustain aerobic activity, such as stalking their prey over long distances.
Two other adaptations discovered in this study explain two other important abilities of the Komodo dragon. The team discovered an unexpectedly large number of genes associated with chemical sensors in their noses, which would explain their extraordinary ability to detect their prey over enormous distances. In addition, they discovered genes involved in blood coagulation which make them immune to their own venom. This adaptation ensures that they are not susceptible to the bites of other Komodo dragons during battles for territory.
Source: ZME Science
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