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Demanding chores halve female Komodo Dragons' lifespan

Australia,Science/Tech,Environment/Wildlife, Fri, 19 Oct 2012 IANS
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Sydney, Oct 19 (IANS) Female Komodo Dragons, the world's largest lizards, have half the lifespan of their male counterparts because of physically demanding chores, which include building huge nests and guarding eggs for up to six months.

The formidable body size of Komodo Dragons enables them to serve as top predators, killing water buffalo, deer and wild boar. They have also been known to kill humans.

A team comprising of scientists from Australia, Indonesia and Italy studied 400 individual Komodo Dragons for 10 years in eastern Indonesia, their only native habitat, the journal Public Library of Science One reports.

Males live to around 60 years of age, reaching an average 160 cm in length and 65 kg at adulthood.

However, their female counterparts were estimated to live an average of 32 years and reach only 120 cm in length, and 22 kg, according to a University of Melbourne statement.

Tim Jessop, a zoologist at University of Melbourne and study co-author, said the team was surprised by the significantly shorter lifespan of the female dragons.

"The sex-based difference in size appears to be linked to the enormous amounts of energy females invest in producing eggs, building and guarding their nests. The process can take up to six months during which they essentially fast, losing a lot of weight and body condition," he said.

"Males and females start off at the same size until they reach sexual maturity at around seven years of age. From then on, females grow slower, shorter and die younger," said Jessop.

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