What do you do when you find yourself at Komodo dragon fight club? Back away slowly. That's exactly what Australian Geographic photographer Chris Bray chose to do when he encountered these two massive reptiles in Rinca Island's Komodo National Park.

"Even in my line of work as an adventurer and wildlife photographer, it's not every day that I see a dragon," he said of the encounter. "Let alone two of these prehistoric beasts battling for supremacy."

The experience left Bray feeling like he'd been transported back to the time of the dinosaurs, and it's not hard to see why! Native to Indonesia, Komodo dragons (Varanus komodoensis) are the biggest living lizards in the world, with a scaly bulk of around 154 pounds (70 kilograms). It's enough to make even an experienced photographer like Bray back off – but not without leaving a handy GoPro in their midst to catch the action. 

Komodo dragons usually survive on a diet of carrion, but they will also ambush live prey, typically going for the throat. These giant reptiles have also been known to use their powerful tails to knock down larger targets, so Bray's hasty retreat was the right call.

Contrary to popular belief, studies have shown that Komodo dragons rely on venom, not toxic bacteria, to take down their prey. The lizards actually have good mouth hygiene. Dragon venom (we love saying that) prevents the blood from clotting, causing bleeding, plummeting blood pressure and shock. In fact, some compounds in the venom that affect blood pressure are just as strong as those found in the venom of Australia's deadly inland taipan.


Top header image: Joachim S. Müller, Flickr