Basilisk lizards have garnered the nickname Jesus Lizards over the years for their ability to “run” across the surface of water. However, these fast little guys don’t rely on miracles, say scientists. New footage of the lizard, filmed at 2,000 frames per second, will air on the BBC on Monday October 19, revealing the science behind the lizards’ water run. From the Huffington Post:
Simon Blakeney, a producer who had filmed the lizard for the BBC told Matt Walker from BBC Earth News, “Because [the lizards] run so fast they create a bubble as their feet hit the water and then they push off from this bubble before it bursts,” says Blakeney. By balancing and pushing off from these bubbles, the lizard is able to “walk” on water.
The 2-4cm lizards only know one speed—full throttle—and this forces their bodies upright as they sprint across the water. In an older video, courtesy of National Geographic, there is considerable splashing as one lizard’s feet appear to sink below the surface during a run. However scientists say this is due to water being yanked up as the lizards pick their feet up off the surface of the water.
We’ll have to wait for the new footage, which is slowed down to 1/80th the speed of real life, to see for ourselves. But for now, check out the NatGeo video, showing a basilisk lizard scooting across the water in around 49 seconds.
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Video: YouTube / National Geographic
Scientists at MD Anderson Cancer Center have created mice with long, slender, bat-like fingers in place of their short, stubby little paws. Unlike the stunning quail-duck, or “quck”—which was cobbled together with gnarly Face/Off-esque transplants—researchers created the “mouat” by simply replacing a small section of DNA from the mouse version to the bat version. This section is responsible for regulating the levels of a single protein in the developing limb—with the protein at elevated bat levels, the mouse’s fingers grew long and slender.
The mouats are far from taking flight—it takes more than long fingers to make functional wings—but they may help solve the evolutionary mystery of bats, the only flying mammals. The fossil records show a sudden appearance of mammals nearly identical to modern bats about 50 million years ago—with no transitional forms—providing ample fodder for ID-ists. This study shows that a small change to the expression of a single gene—not even a change to the gene itself—may have instigated the evolution of mammalian flight.