National Geographic : 1911 Jul
REPTILES OF ALL LANDS MONITOR (Varanus gouldi) : AUSTRALIA Among the monitors are the largest known lizards. An Indian species grows to be eight feet long. The monitors are strictly carnivorous, fierce and active (see page 613). Photo by Raymond L. Ditmars. of Iceland. Serpents range in size from the burrowing species of five inches and a body not thicker than a goose-quill to the great pythons, which attain a length of 30 feet and a weight of 300 pounds. A great proportion of the snakes have become highly specialized. It is among these so-called lowly creatures that we find the most extrao :linary and deadly weapons for the purpose of killing the prey that are possessed by any of the vertebrates. Popular interest is always strong re garding serpents of great size. All of the very large serpents are members of a single family, the Boidc. None is poisonous, and the members of this family kill their prey by constriction squeezing it to death. In the New World the great constrictors are called boas; they are generally known as py thons in the Old World. There is little structural difference between a boa and a python. One of the characteristics about the members of the Boidre is the protrusion of a pair of internal hind limbs in the shape of stout spurs at the vent. This condition shows the immedi ate relationship between the serpents and the lizards. The largest known serpent occurs in the Malay Peninsula, Java, Borneo, and Sumatra. This is the regal or reticu lated python. It attains a length of 30 feet. Second in size is the Indian python. inhabiting the Indian Peninsula, Indo-China, the Malay Peninsula, and Java. This constrictor grows to be 25 feet long and is very abundant. The South American anaconda is a close third, and the African python ranks fourth in size. The latter snake appears to attain a maxnun length of 18 feet. The dimensions given of these giant ser pents are considerably in excess of the average (see pages 630 and 632). Few regal pythons over 22 feet long are nowadays brought out of Malaysia.