The Komodo dragon, also called Komodo monitor, is the world's largest lizard species. It is an ancient species: the earliest known fossils of the genus Varanus appeared about 40 million years ago.
This lizard can reach lengths of up to 3 m (10 ft.) or more, and can weigh up to 126 kg (277 lb.). The males are bigger than the females, which rarely exceed 2.5 m (8.2 ft.). The Komodo can live more than 50 years in the wild.
Komodo dragons are found mainly on the Indonesian islands of Komodo, Rintja, Padar and Flores.
An adult Komodo can consume up to 80% of its body weight in one meal. It has two highly developed sensory organs that allow the dragon to detect rotting carcasses from distances as great as 10 km (6.2 mi.). It is primarily a scavenger, but it will also stalk animals ranging in size from small rodents to large water buffalo. It lies motionless and camouflaged alongside game trails for the unwary, which tend to be the very young, the old and the sick. In an attack, it lunges at its victim with blinding speed and clasps it with the serrated teeth of the jaw. A kill is usually shared by many Komodo dragons and very little is wasted.
Mating occurs at or around the feeding sites. In September, a clutch of 15 to 30 eggs is buried in a nest dug by the powerful claws of the female dragon. The hatchlings emerge from the nest 8 or 9 months later and immediately scramble up the nearest tree to avoid being eaten by the adults. They will only descend to the forest floor roughly a year later.