The isolated islands of southern Wallacea have resulted in the evolution of some interesting endemic reptiles. The apex terrestrial predator in this habitat is in fact a reptile; and it is the largest lizard on the planet - the Komodo Dragon.
Gekko gecko, 'Tokay Gecko'; Large gecko. The scientific name and most of the common names are onomatopoeic, and variations on describing the loud double call. U.S.A soldiers in Vietnam called it the 'fuck-you' lizard. Very widespread; from India, across Indonesia, to New Guinea.
There are about 40 species of these small to medium sized lizards. They have stretched skin over their expanded ribs. This allows small glides between tree trunks. These occur very fast, so don't expect to see it happen, or if it does, it is a blur that just looks like a leap. If that wasn't enough flashiness, when males display, they bob up and down flopping their bright yellow neck flap called a dewlap. These small lizards are common in open and closed forests in tropical Asia, from southern India to the Lesser Sundas, but are not necessarily commonly seen. They are most noticed in more open woodlands, such as in the drier parts of Wallacea. The species above may be Draco lineatus, 'Lined Flying Dragon'
Like snakes, Monitors (including Komodo Dragons) have a forked tongue. This allows the animal to find what direction their prey is when they 'taste' the air.
Varanus komodoensis, 'Komodo Dragon'. The largest lizard in the world, and the largest land reptile in the world.
Males engage in spectacular combat.
It was once thought that the saliva of Komodo Dragons was full of dangerous bacteria that helped infect and bring down prey; this has now been observed not to be true. However, recent studies suggest Komodo dragons (and a few other large monitors) may have mildly venomous bites. The argument goes on. Either way, the take home message is: don't get bitten by a Komodo Dragon!
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