Shock and Gnaw: Komodo's Bite Worse than We Knew

Giant lizard's venom induces deadly double whammy

The venom of the world's biggest lizard packs a powerful one-two punch, sending victims into shock even as it blocks their blood from clotting, Australian researchers said.

The Komodo dragon, which can grow to 10 feet long and 150 pounds, has venom glands that hold shock-inducing poison which increases blood flow and decreases blood pressure, scientists said.

Lead researcher Bryan Fry said surgically removed a venom gland from a dying Komodo at the Singapore Zoo for the study, and found a highly toxic poison which would induce potent stomach cramps, hypothermia and a drop in blood pressure, according to AFP.

What's worse, the deadly dragon chomps with a "grip and rip" maneuver, using razor-sharp teeth to tear deep wounds in the flesh of its prey. That, combined with the venom's effect on clotting, can make the dragon deadly even for humans, though attacks are rare.

"Such a fall in blood pressure would be debilitating in conjunction with blood loss and would render the envenomed prey unable to escape," he said.

Komodos are native to several Indonesian islands and are a protected species, with only about 5,000 left in the world.

An Indonesian fisherman was killed by a pair of the beasts on March 24, when he fell out of a tree and was set upon. In 2007, an eight-year-old boy was killed on Komodo Island, in Indonesia, in the first human fatality in 33 years.

In 2001, San Francisco Chronicle editor Phil Bronstein, then married to actress Sharon Stone, was bitten on the foot by a Komodo dragon at the Los Angeles Zoo when he was given a behind-the-scenes tour of the zoo. He survived.

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