Female komodo dragons live half as long as males because they do so much frickin’ housework
I already knew that in 2001, a Komodo dragon bit Sharon Stone’s ex-husband Phil Bronstein’s toe. To tell you the truth, I didn’t care if this was the last thing I ever knew about them, but alas, this was not my fate. In the last 24 hours, I miraculously doubled the amount of things I know about Komodo dragons with this exciting komodofact: Female Komodo dragons live half as long as males on average, because they essentially die of exhaustion after a rather tedious life of building nests and guarding eggs.
Researchers are keen to understand the lifespan of the Komodo, in the hopes that greater knowledge of its life cycle may help prevent the extinction of this endangered species. But it looks like they may inadvertently help people who were liable to collapse from too much housework, too. This study, from the University of Melbourne, looked at about 400 of the endangered lizards — the largest in the world — in their native habitat, eastern Indonesia. Scientists discovered that males live to be about 60, but the women only make it to 32. If Komodo dragons had to deal with wrinkle cream and hair dye, we might say this was a blessing in disguise, but as they do not, it basically just sucks.
The researchers were rather shocked at this disparity, and discovered after further investigation that the six-month period of bearing, raising, and guarding their young, a period during which females lose a lot of weight (but not in a hot, now I can wear low-cut pants way, more in an oh no, I am dying way), wreaks havoc on their poor dragon bodies. And thus, they expire early. Even for lizards, contraception is a healthcare issue.
Here’s a bit of a digression (an absolutely terrifying one): Komodo dragons can kill people, and have. Really. Bronstein didn’t just walk away from that thing with a few stitches — according to the San Francisco Chronicle (of which Bronstein was the editor, although unfortunately for him he will forever be known only as “the guy the dragon bit”), doctors had to “rebuild the casing of his big toe.” Now I have absolutely no idea what that means, but I’m pretty sure a big fat “Ewwwwwwww” is in order. If any of the scientists trying to prevent Komodos from going extinct are reading this, please do me a favor. Tell them you’ll let them live only if they promise never to kill me. I do not want to go out like that.
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