Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Mysteries of the Komodo Dragon

Mysteries of the Komodo Dragon: The Biggest, Deadliest Lizard Gives Up Its Secrets
by Marty Krump
Boyds Mills Press, 2010. 40 pages. Nonfiction.

Komodo dragons are intriguing creatures, and have fascinated people for thousands of years. This book is an interesting look at this mysterious, scary, and somewhat maligned lizard. One of the first scientists to study the dragons was Dr. Auffenburg, a herpetologist from the University of Florida. In the 1960s, he took his wife and three enthusiastic sons, ages five, eight, and fifteen, to Komodo Island and spent eleven months studying everything they could about them. Part of the fun of this book is reading about the boys and seeing pictures of them handling the lizards.

Since Dr. Auffenburg's groundbreaking work, scientists have found out many things about Komodo dragons. You have probably heard how deadly Komodo dragon saliva is--there are fifty-four potentially deadly kinds of bacteria in it--but the dragon's blood has substances that counteract this bacteria and might work as antibiotics for humans. It has also been discovered Females can reproduce with or without a male--the eggs don't have to be fertilized. Believe it or not, Komodo dragons have personalities; some are even playful and friendly!

This is a fascinating book with great pictures that should appeal to even reluctant readers.

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