Dragons on display at the American Museum of Natural History, New York City.
Dragons do roam the Earth. Less than 100 years ago, a population of dragons was discovered hidden away off the coast of mainland Asia.
In 1910, it is said, a Dutch pilot crashed-landed on Komodo, a rugged, volcanic Indonesian island. After his rescue he claimed to have seen an incredibly large lizard, about thirteen feet long [4 meters]. Another story, equally murky in origin, has it that in 1912, a pilot who had safely landed on Komodo returned with stories of monstrous dragons which ate goats and pigs and even attacked horses. Nobody believed him.
What we do know for certain is that in 1912, Lieutenaut Van Steyn van Hensbroek killed a Komodo dragon measuring seven feet long. He sent a photograph and skin to Major P. A. Ouwens, director of the Zoological Museum and Botanical Gardens in Buitenzorg, Java. Ouwens was the first to write up a scientific description of the Komodo dragon. – Beginning of the entry on the “Komodo Dragon,” in Cryptozoology A to Z: The Encyclopedia of Loch Monsters, Sasquatch, Chupacabras, and Other Authentic Mysteries of Nature (NY: Simon and Schuster, 1999).
Today, Komodo dragons (Varanus komodoensis), a cryptozoology discovery, are displayed in zoos and part of zoology textbooks. They are no longer fantastic, or are they?
A Komodo dragon has mauled a boy to death in eastern Indonesia, police said today.
Mansur, 9, was defecating in bush on Komodo island, part of the Komodo national park, on Saturday, when he was attacked by the animal, Manggarai barat district police chief Buce Hello said.
“The Komodo attacked him, bit him and tossed him around, and only released him after villagers came and threw stones at it,” Hello said.
The island, one of the largest in the Komodo national park, has no medical clinic and the boy, a villager, died shortly after the attack, he said.
The park and the western and northern coastlines of neighbouring Flores island are the natural habitats of the giant Komodo dragon, which is the world’s largest monitor lizard.
The lizard can grow up to three metres in length and weigh up to 140 kilograms.
There are an estimated 3000 Komodo dragons remaining in the park and surrounding areas, and although they are known to be vicious and aggressive, fatal attacks on humans are rare. “Komodo Dragon Kills Boy,” The Sydney Morning Herald, June 4, 2007.