When we think about the biggest lizards in the world, the Komodo dragon often springs to mind. But did you know that there was a lizard far bigger than the largest Komodo dragon ever? Meet the Megalania, an extinct giant lizard that once roamed Australia.
What is Megalania?
Megalania, also known as megalainia or mega lania, belongs to the monitor lizard family, which includes today’s Komodo dragons and goannas. This extinct giant lizard was not just the largest lizard in Australia, but it holds the title for being the largest lizard ever.
The scientific name of this beast is ‘Megalania prisca’, which translates to ‘ancient great roamer’. It lived between 2 million and 30,000 years ago, making it relatively recent in terms of geological time. The question “when did Megalania go extinct?” is still a topic of debate among scientists.
Megalania Size: How Big Was It?
Megalania size is another fascinating aspect of this creature. Based on fossil evidence, including a nearly complete Megalania skeleton, scientists estimate that this giant could have reached lengths of up to 23 feet (7 meters). That’s more than twice the length of the biggest Komodo dragon ever!
Just imagine a lizard big enough to look a grown man in the eye! Megalania was not only the biggest lizard but also one of the heaviest, with estimates suggesting it could weigh up to 1,940 pounds (880 kilograms).
Megalania vs. Komodo Dragon
Comparing the Megalania vs Komodo dragon gives us a sense of just how massive this extinct lizard was. The largest Komodo dragons grow up to 10 feet (3 meters) long and weigh around 150 pounds (70 kilograms). The Megalania, on the other hand, could have been more than twice as long and ten times as heavy!
Unlike the Komodo dragon, which is known for its venomous bite, it’s unclear whether Megalania had a similar adaptation. However, given its size and the robust nature of its teeth and jaws, it’s likely that Megalania was a formidable predator.
The Largest Lizard in the World: A Look at Today’s Contenders
With the extinction of Megalania, the title of ‘the largest lizard in the world’ now goes to the Komodo dragon. But there are other sizable lizards worth mentioning. For instance, the biggest iguana ever recorded was the Brachylophus vitiensis, or Fiji banded iguana, which can reach lengths of up to 8 feet (2.4 meters).
Another contender is the Perentie, Australia’s largest living lizard, which can grow up to 8.2 feet (2.5 meters). Despite their impressive sizes, none of these lizards come close to matching the colossal dimensions of the Megalania.
The Megalania truly was a giant among lizards. Its size and potential predatory adaptations make it one of the most intriguing creatures of prehistoric Australia. While we may never fully understand this extinct giant lizard, its legacy lives on in the form of fascinating lizard facts for kindergarteners and adults alike.
So, the next time someone asks you, “What’s the biggest lizard in the world?” or “What is the largest lizard in the world?”, you’ll know that while the Komodo dragon holds the current title, it pales in comparison to the mighty Megalania. The world of extinct giant lizards is full of surprises, and the Megalania is undoubtedly one of its most astonishing inhabitants.
Today, we can only imagine what it would have been like to encounter such a creature. Through studying the Megalania, we gain a greater appreciation for the diversity and scale of life on Earth, reminding us of the importance of protecting our planet’s biodiversity for future generations.