Home Are KOMODO DRAGONS related to DINOSAURS? In 1989 Soeparmi Surahya, former biology lecturer at the University of Indonesia, contended that the Komodo Dragon, - until today known as Varanus Komodoensis of the lizard family, - should actually be named Mosasaurus Komodoensis, giant marine reptile species that lived some 60 million years ago until the end of the age of the dinosaurs, reports Kompas daily (4 February 2011). The name Varanus Komodoensis was first given to this dragon by Dutch scientist Peter A Ouwens in 1912.
Soeparmi Surahya stated that having studied for twenty years the physiological aspects of the beast, the Komodo’s dental structure, knuckles and other aspects, she was certain that the Komodo dragon actually belongs to the Mosasaurus group that is believed to have been long extinct, and not the Varanus species which is a modern animal. Therefore, although komodos closely resemble lizards, they are in fact a different, prehistoric species. And, indeed, Komodo dragons are able to swim in the sea although they now live mostly on land.
Also, Komodos are the only known carnivorous lizards and are even cannibalistic as they do eat their young. That is why, as soon as the young hatch they climb up trees and stay up there feeding on birds.
Surahya’s book, Komodo : Studi Anatomi dan Kedudukannya dalam Sistematik Hewan ( an Anatomical Study and its place in the Animal System), published by the University of Gajah Mada Press in 1989, is not easily found in Indonesia, but can instead be found in libraries in America, England and Australia, reported Kompas.Her contention, nonetheless, remains controversial.
It is important, says Surahya that more Indonesian scientists study the Komodo if we do not want these rare and endangered species to degenerate through wrong breeding. In the Indonesian zoos Komodos are becoming smaller and thinner, while komodos in American zoos are still as large and as wild as those found on the island of Komodo.
In 1986 UNESCO designated the Komodo Nature Reserve, adjoining the island of Flores and including the Komodo seas, in East Nusatenggara, as World Heritage Site. Throughout the world, Komodo dragons can only be found on these Indonesian islands.
The islands of Flores and Komodo appear to this day still to hide many ancient mysteries. Here in 2004 at a depth of 6 meters, scientists discovered the remains of the Flores hobbits or the tiny prehistoric humans named Homo Floresiensis in the Liang Bua caves in West Flores. In these huge caves they also found prehistoric bones of a stegodon, komodos and lizards believed to have lived 18,000 years ago. Indonesian scientists, nonetheless, believe that the so called Flores hobbits are modern people who remained dwarfs because of lack of nutrition.
Even today there are still remote villages on Flores adhering to the megalithic (large stones) culture. Komodo and Flores are fascinating islands where prehistory survives until today waiting to be discovered and explored.