The Loh Down On Science

Desperate Dragons

The desperate housewives of Komodo Island?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Indonesia’s giant Komodo dragons are the world’s most fearsome reptile. But back at the lair? They’re secretly trapped in the 1950s!

Meet zoologists at Australia’s University of Melbourne. They wanted to measure Komodos’ growth rates, to better understand dragon reproduction.

So they traveled to Indonesia and carefully captured, tagged, measured, and released hundreds of snarling dragons. They did this for 10 years, amassing a treasure trove of dragon data.

Their finding? Females average half the size of males, and only live half as long: 30 years! Why?

Turns out, once dragons reach sexual maturity, females focus on motherly duties. They build nests and guard eggs, often at the expense of eating. In a nutshell: Females die young of housework!

Meanwhile, males go all macho. They eat, build strength, and fight to become the dragon king and produce more offspring.

The zoologists say increasing females’ lifespans could help preserve this endangered species.

Maybe read them some Betty Friedan? To help the scales fall from their eyes.

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena, California. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LohDown.


blog comments powered by Disqus