Mr. Nature: Mosasaurus

The Komodo dragon of Indonesia is, as Bob and Ray observed, the world’s largest living lizard. Full-grown at ten feet long and 300 pounds, occasionally it eats… people.

Some thousands of years ago, certain monitor lizards in Australia grew to be twice the size of a Komodo dragon. But they were pipsqueaks compared to the Mosasaurus of the Cretaceous Period (or whenever–we don’t want to take such things too seriously).

As you can see in this clip from Jurassic World, the Mosasaur was very, very big–up to thirty or even forty feet long, depending on the species. Mosasaurs are all the rage in dinosaur movies today, and of course their size is exaggerated therein. Closely related to today’s monitor lizards, the Mosasaur was likely the supreme predator of its time. Instead of legs it had flippers, so it had to stay in the water. And no, it was not as big as a New Jersey township.

What hath God wrought? We can only marvel at the scanty remains of these gigantic creatures that are no longer with us. Where they are now, only the God who made them knows. But maybe someday He will tell us.

The Wandering Gigantic Lizard

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Most of these are nicer than they look.

(Thanks to “Unknowable” for the news tip)

Professional trappers with dogs are trying–and failing, so far–to capture an allegedly six-foot-long water monitor lizard whose wanderings in the local neighborhood has Florida homeowners freaking out (

One man reported the lizard scratching at his back door, trying to get into his house. He tried to lure the monitor into the garage; the lizard followed him for a ways, then turned and fled.

The worst thing I ever heard about water monitors is that they can be irascible when provoked–so don’t provoke one.

This animal has almost certainly been someone’s pet that got rejected and released when it got too big–a common fate of reptile pets. It’s acting like a pet that wants a home. It was selfish and cruel to release it into the wild. If you’re not going to keep your pet, don’t acquire it in the first place.

Most animals, monitor lizards included, respond to affection and care. This is not an animal you need to be afraid of. They say they’ll “euthanize” it if they catch it, so I’m hoping they don’t catch it. I’m hoping the critter can find another home. Water monitors live in Southeast Asia and don’t belong in Florida, on the loose in an unfamiliar environment. They’re big and scary-looking, but that’s in the eye of the beholder.

Incidents like this reflect very, very badly on people who opt for reptile pets.

Beware the Komodo Dragon!

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Hi, Mr. Nature here, with a warning to all you eco-tourists–don’t mess with apex predators.

In Komodo National Park, Indonesia, recently, a tourist from Singapore, eager to take really cool pictures, ignored warnings and ventured too close to the Komodo dragons while they were eating goats. He was so absorbed in picture-taking that he didn’t notice another lizard creeping up on him–and the dragon practically took his leg off ( Warning: news link contains gory pictures.

The Komodo dragon–“the world’s largest living lizard,” as Bob and Ray were so fond of saying–grows up to ten feet long and can weigh anywhere from 150 to 300 pounds. There aren’t many of them left in this world, and they’re strictly protected. They’re also a major tourist attraction.

In their little island world, though, these are the apex predators, top of the food chain; and because they’re protected, and have so little experience in dealing with human beings, they have no fear of man and will eat you if they can. If their size and strength don’t do you in, their bite is also venomous. Since 1974, five park visitors have died after being bitten.

My own monitor lizard, Spot, a savannah monitor only two feet long, once took exception to the medicine I was giving her and chomped down on my finger. Because she was only making a statement, and not seriously committed to fixing my wagon but good, I still have the finger. But her bite felt just like getting a car door slammed onto my hand. P.S.–The savannah monitor isn’t poisonous.

So… the next time someone invites you to swim with the sharks, or get up close and personal with a pride of lions… just say no. Top predators deserve respect!