Indonesian Komodo Dragon Stamp

Komodo Dragon Stamps



Early in the twentieth century Westerners started to hear native stories of a "land crocodile" said to inhabit some of the islands of Indonesia. In 1912 a party of pearl fishermen reported that a large prehistoric creature lived on an island they had visited in the Lesser Sundas. An expedition from the Buitenborg Zoological Museum in Java visited the island and published a report on the creature which proved to be a giant monitor lizard. This report remained largely unknown. In 1926 an expedition from the American Museum of Natural History captured two live specimens and brought back twelve dead specimens. The report of this expedition was widely disseminated and the existence of the "Komodo Dragon" (scientific name Varanus komodoensis) became known around the world.

The Komodo Dragon is the largest known lizard in the world. Males can reach lengths exceeding three meters and weigh over 125 kg. Females are smaller. The Dragon is a member of the monitor lizard family. There are less than 5,000 dragons in the wild, of which only a few hundred are breeding females. The dragons are carnivorous and can bring down prey much larger than themselves. Human beings are among the dragon's prey.

In the wild, the Komodo Dragon lives on only four islands: Komodo, Rintja, Padar, and Flores. Padar and Rintja are official nature reserves for both the lizard and its prey. Commercial trading in dragons or their skin is illegal under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

Do lizards larger than the Komodo Dragon still exist? Fossils from Queensland, Australia of Megalania prisca demonstrate that this much larger cousin of the Komodo Dragon lived as recently as 20,000 years ago. Megalania reached a length of nearly seven meters and a weight of 450 kg. Occasional reports of giant lizards from Australia lead some to suggest that Megalania may not be extinct. The largest known monitor lizard in Australia is Varanus giganteus (the Parentie) which reaches a length of two meters and a weight of sixteen kilograms. Giganteus is thus much smaller than the Komodo Dragon and much much smaller than Megalania.

In 2005 researchers at the University of Melbourne demonstrated that the bite of both the Komodo Dragon and the Parentie, as well as other monitor lizards, is mildly venomous. The bite of Megalania may likewise have been venomous.

Other cryptids which have been suggested to be giant lizards, possibly large monitor lizards, include Mokele-mbembe, said to inhabit the rivers of the African Congo; the Buru, said to inhabit swampy regions in the Himalayan plateau near Assam; and the Mushrushu or Sirrush, a reptilian creature depicted on the Ishtar Gate of Babylon. Against the suggestion that Mokele-mbembe is an unknown large monitor is that this cryptid is generally described as a vegetarian, while all living monitors other than the Emerald Tree Monitor are carnivorous.

See the Giant Snakes and Reptiles section of my cryptozoology links page for more sites offering information about giant lizards.

Selected Komodo Dragon Stamps
Belgium

Scott # 782
Issued 1965

This stamp is part of a set of five stamps depicting reptiles in the Antwerp Zoo.

France Komodo Dragon Stamp
France

Scott # 2O52
Issued 2001

This stamp depicts a Komodo Dragon. Note that the Scott catalog number is 2-letter O-52.

Indonesia Komodo Dragon Stamp
Indonesia

Scott # 477
Issued 1959

This stamp is part of a set of six stamps depicting Indonesian wildlife.

Indonesia Komodo Dragon Stamp
Indonesia

Scott # 1286C
Issued 1985

This stamp is part of a set of three stamps depicting Indonesian wildlife.

Indonesia Komodo Dragon Stamp
Indonesia

Scott # 1622F
Issued 1995

This stamp is part of a set of ten stamps depicting Indonesian wildlife.

Indonesia Komodo Dragon Stamp
Indonesia

Scott # 1911
Issued 2000

First of four stamps depicting the Komodo Dragon shows a dragon head on with its tongue extended. Issued under the aegis of the World Wide Fund for Nature. You may view a block of four containing the four stamps as well as a a first day cover with the block of four. A miniature sheet of eight (Scott #1914a) repeats each stamp twice. A souvenir sheet (Scott #1915) includes this first stamp and the fourth as a se-tenant pair but with different values. This sheet also appears on a first day cover. The maximum card shows a dragon on a beach. Four commemorative covers ( first, second, third, fourth ) issued for a regional stamp exhbition in Bandung, West Java pair the se-tenant issues with stamps depicting the orangutan.

Indonesia Komodo Dragon Stamp
Indonesia

Scott # 1912
Issued 2000

Second of four stamps depicting the Komodo Dragon shows a juvenile dragon on a log. Issued under the aegis of the World Wide Fund for Nature. The maximum card also shows a juvenile dragon.

Indonesia Komodo Dragon Stamp
Indonesia

Scott # 1913
Issued 2000

Third of four stamps depicting the Komodo Dragon shows two dragons hunting. Issued under the aegis of the World Wide Fund for Nature. The maximum card shows a dragon walking in low vegetation.

Indonesia Komodo Dragon Stamp
Indonesia

Scott # 1914
Issued 2000

Fourth of four stamps depicting the Komodo Dragon shows two male dragons fighting each other, possibly as part of a mating ritual. Issued under the aegis of the World Wide Fund for Nature. The maximum card offers a close-up head shot of a dragon.




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Last modified by pib on January 1, 2008.