The Daily Species #22:
Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis)
The Komodo dragon, also known as the Komodo monitor, is a large species of lizard found in the Indonesian islands of Komodo, Rinca, Flores, Gili Motang and Gili Dasami. A member of the monitor lizard family (Varanidae), it is the largest living species of lizard, growing to a maximum length of 3 metres (9.8 ft) in rare cases and weighing up to around 70 kilograms (150 lb).
Young Komodo dragons spend much of their first few years in trees, where they are relatively safe from predators, including cannibalistic adults, who make juvenile dragons 10% of their diet. When the young must approach a kill, they roll around in fecal matter and rest in the intestines of eviscerated animals to deter these hungry adults. Komodo dragons take about three to five years to mature, and may live for up to 50 years.
On December 20, 2006, it was reported that Flora, a captive Komodo dragon living in the Chester Zoo in England, was the second known Komodo dragon to have laid unfertilized eggs: she laid 11 eggs, and seven of them hatched, all of them male. Scientists at Liverpool University in England performed genetic tests on three eggs and verified that Flora had never been in physical contact with a male dragon. This process, known as Parthenogenesis, is a form of asexual reproduction where growth and development of embryos occur without fertilization.