A member of the monitor lizard family Varanidae, and the cladeToxicofera, the Komodo is the largest living species of lizard, growing to an average length of 2–3 metres (6.6–9.8 ft). This great length is attributed to island gigantism, as there are no carnivorous mammals to fill the niche in the islands that they live on, and the Komodo dragon's low metabolic rate. As a result of their great size, these lizards are apex predators, dominating the ecosystems in which they live.
Komodo dragons were only discovered by Western scientists in 1910. Their large size and fearsome reputation makes them popular zoo exhibits. In the wild their range has contracted due to human activities and they are listed as vulnerable by the IUCN. They are protected under Indonesian law and a national park, Komodo National Park, was founded in order to protect them.
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