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Komodo Dragon Housework

November 5, 2012

Housework may be killing female Komodo dragons at an early age.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

A dragon’s work is never done….I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Life for female Komodo dragons is nasty, brutish, and short. This according to University of Melbourne zoologist Tim Jessop. He says while males can live for up to 60 years, very few females make it to even half that age. Now, Jessop and his colleagues suspect what’s wearing the females out is housework. He says a female will spend an entire month remodeling an enormous abandoned bird nest into a suitable place to lay her eggs. Then she diligently guards her nest for months, often going without food.

TIM JESSOP (University of Melbourne):

And so we think that the costs of those very large nests may be leading to a much shorter lifespan than the males.

HIRSHON:

The males, on the other hand, put most of their energy into growing large enough to compete with other males for the scarce females.

JESSOP

The sexes are almost like two different animals living two almost completely different lives.

HIRSHON:

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

A female Komodo dragon guards her nest. (Tim Jessop/University of Melbourne)

For more information about this research, visit:

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0045398