The Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis), also called the Komodo monitor is a predatory reptile native to the island of Komodo.
In the wild, adult Komodo dragons usually weigh around 70 kg (150 lb), although captive specimens often weigh more. According to Guinness World Records, an average adult male will weigh 79 to 91 kg (174 to 201 lb) and measure 2.59 m (8.5 ft), while an average female will weigh 68 to 73 kg (150 to 161 lb) and measure 2.29 m (7.5 ft). The largest verified wild specimen was 3.13 m (10.3 ft) long and weighed 166 kg (366 lb), including its undigested food.
The Komodo dragon has a tail as long as its body, as well as about 60 frequently replaced, serrated teeth that can measure up to 2.5 cm (1 in) in length. Its saliva is frequently blood-tinged because its teeth are almost completely covered by gingival tissue that is naturally lacerated during feeding. It also has a long, yellow, deeply forked tongue. Komodo dragon skin is reinforced by armoured scales, which contain tiny bones called osteoderms that function as a sort of natural chain-mail. The only areas lacking osteoderms on the head of the adult Komodo dragon are around the eyes, nostrils, mouth margins, and pineal eye, a light-sensing organ on the top of the head. Where lizards typically have one or two varying patterns or shapes of osteoderms, komodos have four: rosette, platy, dendritic, and vermiform. This rugged hide makes Komodo dragon skin a poor source of leather. Additionally, these osteoderms become more extensive and variable in shape as the Komodo dragon ages, ossifying more extensively as the lizard grows. These osteoderms are absent in hatchlings and juveniles, indicating that the natural armor develops as a product of age and competition between adults for protection in intraspecific combat over food and mates.
As with other varanids, Komodo dragons have only a single ear bone, the stapes, for transferring vibrations from the tympanic membrane to the cochlea. This arrangement means they are likely restricted to sounds in the 400 to 2,000 hertz range, compared to humans who hear between 20 and 20,000 hertz. They were formerly thought to be deaf when a study reported no agitation in wild Komodo dragons in response to whispers, raised voices, or shouts. This was disputed when London Zoological Garden employee Joan Procter trained a captive specimen to come out to feed at the sound of her voice, even when she could not be seen
The Komodo dragon can see objects as far away as 300 m (980 ft), but because its retinas only contain cones, it is thought to have poor night vision. It can distinguish colours, but has poor visual discrimination of stationary objects.
As with many other reptiles, the Komodo dragon primarily relies on its tongue to detect, taste, and smell stimuli, with the vomeronasal sense using the Jacobson's organ, rather than using the nostrils. With the help of a favorable wind and its habit of swinging its head from side to side as it walks, a Komodo dragon may be able to detect carrion from 4–9.5 km (2.5–5.9 mi) away. It only has a few taste buds in the back of its throat. Its scales, some of which are reinforced with bone, have sensory plaques connected to nerves to facilitate its sense of touch. The scales around the ears, lips, chin, and soles of the feet may have three or more sensory plaques.