Amidst the tropical streams and rivers of Central and South American rain forests live some of the most extraordinary creatures of our planet: the Jesus Christ lizards. Next to lizards that look like miniature dragons and that don’t need sex, these lizards more properly known as basillisks may be even more spectacular: they have the seemingly miraculous ability to run across water!
Slapping their long-toed feet hard against the water they create a tiny air pocket that keeps them from sinking. This in combination with loose skin between their toes, enables them to move along the surface for over 5 meters. Luckily when gravity eventually takes over, these amazing lizards can rely on their excellent swimming skills.
Their ability to run on water is primarily an escape mechanism, giving them precious seconds when being threatened. Since lizards are cold-blooded (their internal temperature varies along with that of their environment), they need to bask in the sun to warm up each day, leaving them very vulnerable to being caught by predators.
Not everybody likes the special nickname of these amazing lizards, which refers to a specific passage in the bible. Look at the following senseless quote, which shows how some people still think about our fascinating natural world:
It’s blasphemous to name a reptile of all creatures after our Lord Jesus Christ when lizards are symbols of devils.
Recently released high-definition footage from the BBC shows in slow-motion how these amazing lizards run across the water: