Komodo dragons turned out to be the owners of a unique subcutaneous bio-armor

Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin (USA) managed to uncover one of the secrets of the invulnerability of giant monitor lizards from Komodo Island. Komodo dragons, as they are called, are considered the largest and most aggressive among monitor lizards, and their behavior is largely based on the belief that no one can seriously injure them. In addition to the lizards themselves of this species - and now it became clear why.

Komodo dragons are known for their cruel evolutionary mechanism of survival - in hungry years, adults easily kill and devour their young. Resistance is useless because claw strikes block the osteoderm, a bony formation in the lower layer of the skin. This is a natural armor that all monitor lizards have, so you can scratch their skin, but it is difficult to inflict a deep wound.

3D model of the Komodo lizard osteoderms

The structure of the osteoderms of the Komodo monitor lizards remained a mystery, since with a weight of more than 100 kg and a body length of up to 3 m, museums prefer to exhibit only reptile skeletons, and osteoderms, as part of the skin, are removed. Scientists from Texas for the first time in history studied the structure of the armor of a living 19-year-old individual using X-rays. And they discovered four types of bone armor at once - the plates were intertwined, like chain mail, but had a strikingly different form of connection.

Different osteoderms protect individual parts of the head and neck of the monitor lizard, each species has its own specifics. What is most interesting is that young individuals do not have osteoderms, in principle, they are devoid of subcutaneous armor and therefore are vulnerable to mature monitor lizards. Bone endoprotection grows only when the lizard reaches sexual maturity and a certain size - that is, it becomes important for the survival of the species. But how exactly this diverse bio-armor works, scientists have yet to figure out.