The Jesus Christ Lizard: The Lizard That Runs on Water
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The Jesus Christ Lizard: The Lizard That Runs on Water

The Jesus Christ lizard is most notable for its ability to run on water, hence its name.

The green basilisk lizard, sometimes called the plumed basilisk or double crested basilisk, is known under the name Jesus Christ lizard or Jesus lizard for its unique ability to run short distances across water. It is frequently found in the tropical rainforests of Central and South America, where they could be found living most of their lives in trees, always close to places with an abundance of water for their convenience, where whenever they sense danger close by, they can immediately drop into and break into a sprint to safety.

Jesus Christ lizard

The Jesus Christ lizard running on water

The average length of a Jesus Christ lizard is at least 2 feet with its tail taken into account, its average weight ranging between two hundred to six hundred grams. One of the distinguishing characteristics between a male and a female Jesus Christ lizard is the unique crests the male Jesus Christ lizards sport on their skulls and backs, which they use to impress the opposite sex. Jesus Christ lizards feed mainly on small birds, snakes, fish and insects, while its predators subsume large raptors, snakes and fish.

How does a Jesus Christ lizard run on water? To actually pull this remarkable feat off, a green basilisk lizard sports exceptionally long toes on both its hind feet, between which flaps of skin could be found, analogous to the webbing found on a frog’s feet. On dry land, those flaps of skin are rolled up. Upon becoming aware of a nearby danger, they would immediately unfurl in order to expand the surface area of the basilisk’s feet so as to facilitate the lizard’s task of covering short distances across water. They are observed to slap their feet hard against the water surface while running across it, in the process giving rise to a small air pocket which prevents the lizard from sinking, as long as the Jesus lizard does not sway from the speed of its sprint across water. The distance they are able to cover across water is around 4.5 meters, though smaller ones are known to cover ten to twenty meters before sinking, during which they would continue their flight by swimming to safety. Specialized scales found on a Jesus lizard’s feet also help prolong its time darting across water before sinking.

Other fascinating facts about the Jesus Christ lizard:

1. They are capable of staying underwater for at most thirty minutes.

2. Being small in size, Jesus Christ lizards are known to reach speeds of up to 7 miles per hour.

3. Jesus Christ lizards in captivity have a life span of up to 8 years, whereas those in the wild do not enjoy the luxury of living as long as their counterparts in captivity.

References:

1. http://webspinners.com/coloherp/cb-news/Vol-28/cbn-0102/Basilisk.html

2. http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/reptiles/green-basilisk-lizard/

3. http://www.itsnature.org/ground/mammals-land/jesus-christ-lizard/

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