The Surprising Playfulness of Deadly Komodo Dragons

The Smithsonian Channel spoke with Professor Gordon Burghardt of the Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Department at The University of Tennessee Knoxville to learn more about the surprising playfulness of deadly Komodo dragons.

When you think of Komodo dragons, the words ‘fun’ and ‘play’ aren’t the first to come to mind. But scientists are discovering that these giant lizards have a very heightened sense of play.

Burghardt, who has been studying these fascinating reptiles for more than 20 years, introduced simple items such as a ball, a bucket, and a paper bag into their enclosures to see what they would do.

Gordon introduced new objects to see how the dragons reacted to them. The dragons were curious but what came next was unexpected and seemed a lot like playing…the more time the lizards spent with the objects, the more playful their behavior became.

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