There Be Dragons Among Us

doodle-di-google-parco-di-komodo

Do you like dragons?  It appears that most of us do, since current books, movies, video games, and apps are awash with these fantasy flying creatures.

But did you know there are real dragons living on our planet?

Well, at least there are actual animals called dragons–the Komodo Dragon, also known as the Komodo Monitor.  They are the largest lizards in the world, and they are the subject of today’s Google Doodle!  If you go to the Google search engine home page today, you can take an interactive quiz and learn more about these fascinating animals, all in honor of the 37th anniversary of the Komodo National Park, an environmental preserve established to protect the Komodo Dragon and other threatened species.

I won’t give away too much information on the quiz, but will add a few things that Google didn’t cover.  Komodo Dragons have a movable jaw, which allows it to open its mouth uncommonly wide and to consume up to 80% of its own body weight in a surprisingly rapid time.  But if in danger, the Komodo Dragon will vomit up the contents of its stomach to lessen its weight and to escape more quickly.  It can run up to 13 miles per hour for short spurts, although its hunting strategy is usually to wait patiently in the same spot for hours before grabbing its prey, which can include deer, goats, boars, and even water buffalo!  They eat all but about 12% of their catch, including the bones, hooves, and hide.

Here are some photos of the real animal:

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You can’t tell the scale from these pictures, but these lizards are generally the size and weight of a man, and can grow up to 10 feet long and over 350 pounds.  They have some Komodo Dragons at the National Zoo in Washington, DC, near where I grew up, so I’ve been able to see these amazing animals in the flesh many times.  But I applaud Google for its recent trend of honoring not only animal preservation causes, but for supporting the creatures that aren’t cute and cuddlely.  I hope we get to see more of these lesser-known animals as we approach Earth Day 2017!

 

Note:  The drawing is part of the Google Doodle.  The photographs are from Wikimedia and used under a Creative Commons license.

 


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