Sunday, 15 June 2008

Modern-day Dragon Threatens Divers

Komodo dragons can be found in many zoos.

Joel Kontinen

Recently, BBC News had an article about five European divers who had a rather unusual adventure on the Indonesian island of Rinca. Strong currents washed them away from their boat and for 12 hours they had to struggle in waters infested with sharks until they found an island. But soon they saw a Komodo dragon on the beach. They had to throw rocks at the lizard to keep it at bay. The divers were eventually rescued.

The Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) only lives on some Indonesian islands. The largest living lizard, it can be over three meters (nine feet) long and weigh 120 kilograms (265 pounds). Komodo dragons are swift, ferocious animals that have been known to kill and eat humans.

Komodos can even stand on their hind legs for a while, making them look more like dinosaurs, although their front legs are not as small as those of T. rex, for instance. Their fierceness and their ability to kill by venomous bacteria in their mouths might have contributed to the name Varanus komodoensis has earned, viz. dragon.

Supporters of evolution will scoff at the idea of man and dinosaurs or even dragons co-existing. But like the Tuatara, which only lives in New Zealand, the Komodo dragon brings to mind old dragon stories that are found in many cultures. St. George and the Dragon is probably the best-known tale in the west.

In addition, some ancient cave paintings depict dinosaur-like creatures. There is even an interesting engraving of two fighting sauropod dinosaurs in the tomb of bishop Richard Bell in Carlisle Cathedral in the UK from the 15th century.

What is surprising about the image is that although dinosaur bones had been found earlier, the word “dinosaur” was coined as late as 1841, when Richard Owen named the big creatures ‘terrible lizards’. However, at the time of bishop Bell’s death in 1496 no one was supposed to know what a dinosaur looked like. Yet the animals resemble the pictures of dinosaurs we often see in science journals.

It seems that reality is more amazing than we would expect.


Bell. Philip. 2003. Bishop Bell’s Brass Behemoths! Creation 25:4, 40-43. You can read the article here.

How dangerous is a Komodo dragon? BBC NEWS. 9 June 2008.

Read more about the Tuatara here.