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Fear of Komodo dragon bacteria wrapped in myth

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Posted June 27, 2013

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A team led by a University of Queensland researcher has proven that the fearsome Komodo dragon is a victim of bad press.

It has long been believed that Komodo dragon bites were fatal because of toxic bacteria in the reptiles’ mouths.

But ground-breaking research by The University of Queensland’s Associate Professor Bryan Fry and colleagues in the United States has found that the mouths of Komodo dragons are surprisingly ordinary and the levels and types of bacteria do not differ from any other carnivore.

This presents a powerful challenge to how most scientists and zookeepers have viewed the Komodo dragon.

“Komodo dragons are actually very clean animals,” Associate Professor Fry said.

“After they are done feeding, they will spend 10 to 15 minutes lip-licking and rubbing their head in the leaves to clean their mouth.

“The inside of their mouth is also kept extremely clean by the tongue.

“Unlike people have been led to believe, they do not have chunks of rotting flesh from their meals on their teeth, cultivating bacteria.”

In fact it seems the poor hygiene of water buffalo is responsible for perceptions about deadly toxic bacteria in the dragons.

Komodo dragons evolved in Australia and preyed upon young megafauna.

Read more at: Phys.org

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