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Komodo Dragon: Our last link to the Dinosaurs live in Komodo Island, Indonesia

EXPLORE KOMODO ISLAND

Komodo Island is one of the most unique islands in the world, and for good reason – it boasts a diverse array of plant and animal life, and remains the only place in the world where the world’s largest lizard, the Komodo Dragon, can still be found in the wild. The Komodo National Park is a national park in Indonesia located within the Lesser Sunda Islands in the border region between the provinces of East Nusa Tenggara and West Nusa Tenggara. The park includes the three larger islands – Komodo, Padar and Rinca – and 26 smaller ones, with a total area of 1,733 km² (603 km² of it land). The national park was founded in 1980 to protect the Komodo Dragon, the world’s largest lizard. Later, it was dedicated to protecting other species, including marine species. In 1991, the national park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

HISTORY

Komodo National Park was established in 1980 and was declared a World Heritage Site and a Man and Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1991. The park was initially established to conserve the unique Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis), first discovered by the scientific world in 1912 by J.K.H. Van Steyn. Since then conservation goals have expanded to protecting its entire biodiversity, both marine and terrestrial.

The majority of the people in and around the Park are fishermen originally from Bima (Sumbawa), Manggarai, South Flores, and South Sulawesi. Those from South Sulawesi are from the Suku Bajau or Bugis ethnic groups. The Suku Bajau were originally nomadic, and moved from location to location across the regions of Sulawesi, Nusa Tenggara and Maluku, to make their livelihoods. Descendants of the original people of Komodo, the Ata Modo, still live in Komodo, but there are no pure-blooded people left and their culture and language is slowly being integrated with the more recent migrants.

Little is known about the early history of the Komodo islanders. They were subjects of the Sultanate of Bima, although the island’s remoteness from Bima meant its affairs were probably independent from the Sultanate, other than the occasional demand for tribute.



KOMODO DRAGON : OUR LAST LINK TO THE DINOSAURS

When speaking of dinosaurs we often picture vast landscapes of dense forestry and wild life, where heavy vegetation and monstrosities peaking at eight stories to the modern low-rise apartment block can be met. Worlds encompassing these traits date back to over 231 million years ago, with proof of their existence only coming in the form of fossilized remains and radiometric rocks. But, there may be one last vestige of modern civilization, linking us to the the dawn of time — The Komodo Dragon.

Today we think of the Prehistoric Period to be the age of the dinosaurs, where one attribute from the lost world ties all loose ends together to sum up it’s distinction from life today. Dinosaurs are vastly regarded as reptiles, where today the dominant species on the planet are as mammals, reptiles(dinosaurs) are differentiated from mammals(humans) by this one characteristic — its blood. Dinosaurs are cold blooded reptilian behemoths, with the fundamental difference being we as humans are warm-blooded and stand at an average of 180 centimeters tall.

But, before I offer you a glimpse as to how this world can be best represented in the modern day, first take note that the only link to the Prehistoric Period, known to us today as the Komodo Dragon, does not live in an environment, which can in any way be replicated characteristically to life 231 million years ago.

During the prehistoric period civilization, as we know it, began life from humble beginnings. From Neanderthal Man to T-Rex, to triceratops to long-neck, there was a pecking order… a food chain as it were, where the only traces of modern human(Neanderthal Man) were the primary hunters relying on their opposable thumbs to hunt and sharpen their tools. And, according to modern study, T-Rex acted as a big brother figure to other dinosaurs being hunted by Neanderthal Man, shooing them away in case of an emergency. T-Rex hardly needed to feed and acted more as a scavenger, picking off food from dead carcasses, in case there was ever a need to feed themselves or their young.

Now, consider that this scenario would roughly be how things went on during these times, where food and the pecking order are the only prerogative, which means to say that dinosaurs, even modern day dinosaurs, cannot live outside of their habitat. The Komodo Dragon, tough considered by many intellectual groups to carry the same traits, characteristics and DNA strand that would otherwise link its ancestors to the Prehistoric Period, is by default only a very large reptile and not a dinosaur.

Still, paleontologists who have been studying dinosaurs for as long as man can remember, believe that there is no doubt that Komodo Dragon and its DNA strand can be linked to this period in history, making them the only remaining proof of living dinosaurs.

Today the Komodo Dragon is often thought of as simply an island lizard and though the closest living relative to the dinosaurs in truth is only 4million years old, which in fact is no where close to dinosaurs dating back to 231 million years ago, but we can still dream(and so can the scientists). Please read on.

The world’s largest living lizard, the Komodo Dragon in actuality is quite a mysterious reptile, with very little known about its ancestry, the “Varanus Komodoensis,” is one of the most fascinating creatures living in the marshes of the Australian Outback.

There is a lot missing in our understanding of their natural history, but this much is certain: In it’s 4 million year natural history, fossils can date its roots and evolution, with natural fossilized evidence to Australia, Timor, Flores, Java and India. What makes this reptiles natural history a mystery is that, till this day, no link can be made to the source of its first habitat, even with proof of these five places of origin marked, no connection can be made of its migration patterns.

With the nuts and the bolt out of the way, the other big question behind its mystery is met. The question is simply, “Why did scientists make the association with dinosaurs in the first place?”

It was previously thought that one of the most direct answers to this riddle is the sheer size of these animals, ranging from 2–3 meters in length and 60–90 kilograms in weight these ginormous lizards were first linked to the dinosaurs because of its ability to have survived the changing conditions of our planet, especially dating back to 4 million years ago, as first stated. The second and most fundamental reason behind their link is the potential for evolution and growth, where in different conditions, are able to exceed the limitations stipulated above.

The island lizard of today is known as an island lizard because of their ability to adapt and manipulate their bodies to the changing environment. The Komodo Dragon may get bigger than the typical size because of an increase in the reliance of and on lower quality food and can accommodate the lower quality of food once undertaking a larger frame by shrinking their gut to accommodate the food and hypothetically can recreate this effect to no end. It would simply take a few million years before they reach the size of a larger reptilian creature, emulating that of a dinosaur, one equitable in size to a sea creature such as the Plesiosaurus or better known as Nessie in Folk tale.

The only thing left is to hang round to wait for that effect to take place… some two hundred and thirty million years from today.



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