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RE: Septic teeth

It is not clear how important the "septic mouth" is to Komodo Dragons  (or
Ora).  Auffenberg, who did the most authoritative study of them notes in his
book that some people allege that this is important, but he could find no
evidence of it directly - in particular, swabs taken from the mouths of
several oras did not produce cultures of infectious bacteria.  Also,
Auffenberg himself, and others in his party were bitten and no infection

Thus I am skeptical that the "septic mouth" condition actually exists.  I
have looked for other hard evidence and have not found any.  However, if
somebody has a reference to a scientific study of this I would be very

Note that nearly any carnivore might from time to time have a pretty dirty
mouth, especially if they have recently fed on carrion.   Carnivores which
do feed on carrion a lot probably have developed immunity to the bacteria,
but the next thing they bite would not.   Thus, bites which do not kill the
intended prey might cause infection - indeed it is clear that this must
sometimes happen.   

What is less clear is whether there is a specific tooth or other anatomical
feature that evolved specifically for this purpose.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: John M. Dollan [SMTP:dollan@cyberport.net]
> Sent: Friday, October 23, 1998 10:40 AM
> To:   TWILLIAMS@canr1.cag.uconn.edu
> Cc:   dinosaur@usc.edu
> Subject:      Re: Septic teeth
> TWILLIAMS@canr1.cag.uconn.edu wrote:
> > Somebody mentioned that carnivorous theropods (e.g. _Neovenator_) may
> > have harbored infectious bacteria in the grooves (or "pits") of their
> > teeth.  I think this has been reported for certain modern reptiles
> > (like varanids), but I'm not sure.
> The Komodo Dragon has a very nasty, bacteria filled mouth.  Of course, in
> its climate, infection is a risk at any rate, but apparently it is almost
> assured (and quite rapidly, I'm told) if an animal should happen to be
> bitten by one.  But then, when you think about it, Humans have pretty
> dirty mouths also (no joke intended) and our bites often require
> immediate medical attention to stave off infection, so such an attribute
> is not neccesarily reptilian.
> Regards....
> --
> John M. Dollan
> Montana State University - Northern
> Graduate Assistant
> ICQ #308260
> http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Academy/1861
> "To make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the
> universe..."
>   --Carl Sagan