Of Dragons and Diminutive Elephants
Did Komodo dragons evolve to eat pygmy elephants? When Jared Diamond posed this question in a 1987 Nature article, he answered in the affirmative. The 10-foot lizards owed their origin to a diet of diminutive elephants isolated on Indonesian islands. But, thanks to research that will no doubt disappoint fans of sensational prehistoric vignettes, Diamond’s speculative story has entirely unraveled.
Diamond wasn’t the first to suggest that Komodo dragons were elephant-hunters. Walter Auffenberg – an expert on the big lizards – first proposed the connection in a 1981 monograph. But Diamond’s short article has often been cited as the standard origin story for the Komodo dragons, despite the fact that the news item contained no new research whatsoever. Diamond simply connected