Jesus Christ Lizard, this reptile that learned to run on water

Name : Jesus Christ lizard, green basilisk or basilisk plumifrons

Location : Evolves in Central America from Honduras to Panama.

Special sign: Can run on water

Lizards are a highly diverse group of reptiles, with at least 6,000 species worldwide. While the largest can be up to three meters long, most are relatively small. Which makes them, unfortunately for them, quite popular prey among the predators that live near them.

However, there is no question for the lizards to let him go. These animals have developed a whole arsenal to elude intruders. Camouflage remains one of the most famous weapons. Some are also capable of losing their tails. Others prefer to rely on the good old method: run away.

green basil (Basilisk plumifrons) belongs to this latter category. This Central American species can reach up to 90 centimeters in length, including the tail, and is recognizable by its green colors, bright yellow eyes, and broad crests found on the males’ head, back, and neck.

The species is recognizable by its green color, bright yellow eyes, and broad crests. © Marcel Burckhard/Cele4, www.tierlexikon.ch/CC BY-SA 3.0

The art of running in style

This lizard spends most of its time in the trees, never moving away from a water source. As soon as he feels threatened by a predator, he gives up, and that’s when the real show begins. As B. plumifrons figured out how to run in style. Instead of crawling on all fours on the ground, he stands on his hind legs and … runs on the water.

This miraculous ability earned the animal the nickname Jesus Christ Lizard. You may have already seen videos of how an individual rushes through the water, chest in the air, gnashing its legs, while never drowning or drinking from a cup.

Needless to say, this ability is not very common in the animal kingdom. Most animals (including ourselves) that attempt to walk or run on water inevitably drown. And for good reason, unlike earth, water is a medium with little resistance.

There is no problem for the Jesus Christ lizard. The inventive reptile found a tactic, a study published in 2004 showed. After carefully studying the run from all angles, the authors found that the step was not at all random. The feet hit the surface of the water in such a way that air pockets form there.

The animal then uses these pockets to quickly find footing and stay out of the water. Thanks to its limited weight—usually around 200 grams in adulthood—and large feet, the technique is pretty darn effective. At least as long as he doesn’t stop running or he’ll end up in the water like (almost) everyone else.

Up to ten kilometers per hour

According to the observations of scientists, the green basilisk can thus run many meters at a speed of up to ten kilometers per hour. And when the path gets too long, he simply lets gravity take over and turns to his superior swimming skills to continue his escape.

In a study published in 1996, scientists believe that humans are too big and weak to repeat such a feat. They estimate that an 80-kilogram person would need to run through water at nearly 110 km/h with muscles about fifteen times stronger than usual.

Other researchers revived the calculations in a paper published in 2012. They came to the conclusion that people can run on water. Provided that they will wear flippers, weigh no more than 73 kg and be on the moon. Suffice it to say, it will be hard to match the vast abilities Mother Nature bestowed on the lizard Jesus Christ (and some of her cousins).

Read also:

⋙ Bull dung beetle, the strongest insect in the world

⋙ Kakapo, this New Zealand parrot that can’t fly

⋙ Philippine tarsier, a tiny primate with a fake-looking gremlin

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