Solving biological mysteries

When Walter Auffenberg studied the Komodo dragon in the 1970s he noticed that males outnumbered females three to one, with no obvious reason why. It was a biological mystery that the characters of The Dragon Keeper spent some time pondering as well. Today, we have one possible explanation: housework.

An international research team studied 400 Komodo dragons for 10 years and found that females live half as long as males, due to the increased stress of building nests and guarding eggs. Not only does this cut their lives in half, but females are also only three-fourths as long and one-third as heavy as their male counterparts.

Today I also learned, when I attempted to read the full study at PLOS ONE – Life-History and Spatial Determinants of Somatic Growth Dynamics in Komodo Dragon Populations – why I am not a scientist.