Its unusually large size has been attributed to island gigantism, since no other carnivorous animals fill the niche on the islands where it lives. However, recent research suggests the large size of Komodo dragons may be better understood as representative of a relict population of very large varanid lizards that once lived across Indonesia and Australia, most of which, along with other megafauna, died out after the Pleistocene as a result of human activity. Fossils very similar to V. komodoensis dating to more than 3. 8 million years ago have been found in Australia, and its body size has remained stable on Flores over the last 900,000 years, "a time marked by major faunal turnovers, extinction of the island's megafauna, and the arrival of early hominids by 880 ka [kiloannums]. "
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