Komodo dragons are incredible animals. They are lizards, but have a number of unique improvements in their chemistry that give them benefits that are often found only in mammals. To find out how these big predators came to their present state, the researchers have examined their genes.
The study, published in Nature Ecology & Evolution shows that Komodo dragons receive their unique abilities thanks to specific genetic adaptations. By comparing the genome of dragons to other similar species, scientists now have a much better idea of what specific genetic quirks are responsible for the characteristics shared by the species.
Komodo dragons are big, but they are also remarkably fast. For reptiles, this is a rare combination because cold-blooded animals often lack high aerobic capacity and usually have a slow metabolism.
Investigating their genome, researchers discovered unique changes in the mitochondria of the dragon's cells, and it is believed that they work that this could be at least partially responsible for their impressive abilities. The benefits to the animals include a higher metabolism and increased aerobic capacity ̵
In addition, the scientists discovered the reason why Komodo dragon bites are not nearly as deadly among members of Komodo species attack each other and not their prey. The researchers already knew that the poison used by the animals contains an anticoagulant that promotes bleeding when a prey animal is bitten, but when a dragon bites another dragon that has not passed. The team found a specific adaptation of the Komodo dragon genes that destroyed the effects of this specific anticoagulant and allowed two dragons to fight for territory or breeding rights without risking their lives.