Animal of the week Bubble on the forehead: a tropical lizard is able to breathe underwater for up to a quarter

Caribbean lizards dive into the river with their own oxygen tank.

Lizards are fascinating. They are able to climb even a glass wall and to run on the waters.

New research according to them they are also able to breathe underwater.

Biologist Lindsey Swierk walked a mountain stream in Costa Rica a few years ago and noticed how some anole lizards dive into the water and stay under the surface for long periods of time without barking in between.

After all, the matter had to be investigated and it turned out that an air bubble forms under the water at the heads of the lizards. It acts as if it is an oxygen tank. Of the lizards, water anhydrous (Anolis aquaticus) is able to breathe in water for more than a quarter of an hour.

The lizard thus inhales the same air in and out of the bubble as long as there is still enough oxygen in it. The system is somewhat reminiscent of a closed-circuit ventilator used by divers, the so-called rebreather. Maybe the air gets a little stale, but luckily the lizards don’t have a very good sense of smell.

Many insects dive below the surface with their own air bubbles, but no similar ability has been previously observed in vertebrates.

The skin of the lizards repels water insanely effectively. When a lizard jumps into the water, air pockets form on the surface of its skin that ripples around the lizard like some kind of mercury haze. The bubble that forms on your forehead is enough oxygen for a small lizard for a long time, and the lizard may get fresh air from other air pockets in the head area as well.

Water-repellent and dry leather may have evolved to protect lizards from diseases that wet skin could munch on in the tropics. Possibly as a by-product of this, some lizards have evolved to take advantage of air pockets formed in the water.

Water breathing is an extremely handy escape. When the Predator is threatening, the Livakka lizard can only sneak into the yorpk and wait at the bottom for Kehveli to get bored and go on his travels.

The proverb compares how something flows like water from a goose’s back. The bird’s feathers also repel water, but the inventor of the saying clearly has never seen Caribbean lizards.

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