Female Komodo dragons live about half as long as their male counterparts, and an international team of scientists has figured out why:
They do all the housework.
The typical tasks of the female Komodo dragon—building and maintaining the nest and guarding eggs—are so physically demanding that they not only shorten their average lifespan, they also cause them to be physically smaller than their male counterparts. Says Dr. Tim Jessop, who co-authored the study,
“The sex-based difference in size appears to be linked to the enormous amounts of energy females invest in producing eggs, building and guarding their nests. The process can take up to six months during which they essentially fast, losing a lot of weight and body condition.
“Males and females start off at the same size until they reach sexual maturity at around seven years of age. From then on females grow slower, shorter and die younger.”
According to the study, while Komodo dragon females are tasked with keepin’ house and guardin’ babies, the males expend their energy bulking up to make themselves viable candidates for reproduction. Far be it from me to judge the inner workings of Komodo dragon society, but that just doesn’t seem fair. Can’t the father take over building the nest every once in a while? Let the mother roam around, maybe kill a few water buffalo? On the other hand, wow, Komodo dragon females! Why so badass?
In all seriousness, this recently discovered gender disparity has an impact on the future of the species: couple the early death of females with the fact that Komodos are already endangered, and the competition among males gets fierce, so knowing about Komodo gender roles could have a big impact on conservation efforts.
(via: National Geographic)