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Re: T rex bites your bum

--- Phil Bigelow <bigelowp@juno.com> wrote:
> On Mon, 23 May 2005 01:04:19 +0200 TooTs
> <DragonsClaw@gmx.net> writes:
> > 
> --
> > Afterwards the monitor 
> > lizard
> > would just follow it's victim, sometimes for days,
> until shock, 
> > blood loss
> > and the infection did the job.
> I read this "following strategy" all the time
> (Horner, Abler, Bakker,
> Curie have repeated this for years), but what is the
> original source for
> the info?  I agree that Komodo Dragon teeth are
> efficient innoculation
> devices, and I agree that infection from bites is a
> frequent mode of
> death for Komodo prey items, but is it really true
> that a Komodo will
> spend days following a *specific* infected
> individual?


Next to the whole "cold-blooded = inactive" arguments,
this has got to be the second most commonly read
misconception in the literature. 

If one reads up on Komodo monitors from Auffenberg
(1981), or Murphy et al (2002), one will come across
the following general statement regarding septic

"If prey is bitten, but escapes the dragon's initial

For some reason, or another, the popular thing to do
with statements like this, is to blow it up into
something far more akin to:

"Septic bites are a commonly used strategy of Komodo

So first and foremost: NO, Komodo dragons do not rely
on septic bites in order to kill their prey. Septic
bites are more of a good second chance, in the event
of an escape. 

Auffenberg wrote of many cases where he heard about,
or observed oras attacking and killing their prey
outright. In absolutely NONE of the cases did he
report of an ora biting and then sitting back. Komodo
dragons aren't pit vipers. When an ora attacks, it
goes in for immediate incapacitation. For goats and
boars, this usually means gripping the neck, or lumbar
region, and then shaking vigorously (evisceration from
the underside may also occur). For larger animals like
deer and water buffalo, the hindleg is usually
targeted. In these cases the ora aims for (and usually
takes out) the achilles tendon. In ALL THESE CASES the
animal is incapacitated quickly. Often through
powerful and shocking brutality. None of this bite and
wait BS. 

Indeed, with regards to the whole septic bite,
Auffenberg gave mention of many domestic animals that
were found to have septic bites (a result of villagers
actively interrupting an attempted kill), but recorded
only 1 case of a wild animal (a deer) being seen with
an infected wound. He also mentioned that the native
villagers rarely saw wild animals with infections.

As for the initial question, there is no case I am
aware of, that shows Komodo monitors trailing an
infected individual for days on end. Septic bites in
oras probably play the same role that they do in _Lynx
canadensis_. There, infected Newfoundland caribou
(_Rangifer tarandus_) suffer from lethal abscesses,
due to the septic Lynx bites. Death, in these animals,
occurs between 4.5-15 days time. That, of course, is
assuming that the infection is the only thing that
kills them. What these infections are really good at
doing, is causing enough debillitation in the prey
item, to warrant a more successful second attack. 

This logic should apply to oras just as well. Better
still, considering that the insane Indonesian heat
should allow for infection to set in much faster.

Regardless, septic "bite and wait" strategies are
neither a primary, nor even a secondary form of
hunting seen in Komodo monitors.


Auffenberg, Walter. 1981, "The Ora as a Predator" The
Behavioral Ecology of the Komodo Monitor, Florida
University Press.

Murphy JB, Ciofi C, de La Panouse C, & Walsh T. (eds)
2002. Komodo Dragons: Biology and Conservation.
Smithsonian Institution Press.

"I am impressed by the fact that we know less about many modern [reptile] types 
than we do of many fossil groups." - Alfred S. Romer

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