In Fo­cus: Je­sus Christ lizard

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Contents - Photo: Bence Máté/na­turepl.com

The green basilisk lizard is also known as the Je­sus Christ lizard due to its as­ton­ish­ing abil­ity to walk on wa­ter. When threat­ened it drops from a tree into a wa­ter­course to es­cape a preda­tory snake or bird, mov­ing its legs rapidly at 1.5m per sec­ond. Long toes and spe­cial fringes of skin on the rep­tile’s back feet in­crease the sur­face area to en­able it to per­form this mir­a­cle. The lizard can reach a dis­tance of about 4.5m be­fore it starts to sink but it is also a com­pe­tent swim­mer. Wildlife pho­tog­ra­pher Bence Máté wit­nessed this superstar in Santa Rita, Costa Rica, but the rep­tile can also be found in Hon­duras and Panama. The semi­ar­bo­real, om­niv­o­rous species sur­vives on plant ma­te­rial, in­sects and fruits, and is abun­dant in trop­i­cal rain­forests. Males have dis­tinc­tive crests on their heads and backs to im­press fe­males.

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