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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

This week, facts about the Komodo dragon, the largest lizard on earth.


CURWOOD: The Chinese New Year is upon us, and this is the year of the golden dragon. Though dragons are mythological creatures, several types of earthly fauna are sufficiently dragon-like to earn them the title. The dragonfly, for example. And of course the Komodo dragon. The Komodo is the largest lizard on earth if you don't count Godzilla. They live on a few islands in Indonesia, and adult males can grow to ten feet and weigh 300 pounds. Legends of fire-breathing dragons were reportedly inspired by the Komodo's yellow tongues and foul breath. These Indonesian carnivores mostly eat deer and wild boar, but if a big dragon spots a smaller one, well, it's dinner time. So young dragons tend to stay up in trees. And though they are generally shy around people, Komodo dragons occasionally nab a human or two. The dragons are now a protected species, but they are sometimes killed by villagers trying to protect their children and animals. Development and eco-tourism also threaten these reptiles, whose entire habitat is only one quarter the size of Rhode Island. And so, Komodo dragons are in danger of going the way of dinosaurs, relegated to the misty magical land of science fiction and fairy tales. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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