Exceptionally Rapid Tooth Development and Ontogenetic Changes in the Feeding Apparatus of the Komodo Dragon

by Tea Maho and Robert Reisz, PhD

Kilat, 20-year-old Komodo dragon (Credit: Toronto Zoo)

Kilat, the largest living lizard at the Toronto Metro Zoo, like other members of his species (Varanus komodoensis), truly deserves to be called the Komodo dragon! Its impressive size and the way it looks at you and tracks your every move makes you realize that it is an apex predator, not unlike a ferocious theropod dinosaur. So, it is not surprising when you look around at his enclosure to find that there are shed teeth sparkling on the ground, a common find when hunting for Mesozoic theropod dinosaurs. This startling phenomenon led us to study the teeth and feeding behavior of this fascinating predator. The Toronto Zoo Team generously collected many shed teeth and allowed us to undertake this study, and skulls in the skeletal collection of the Royal Ontario Museum were also made available to us.

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