Tag: reptiles

Geckos Always Land on Their Feet—and So Does This Gecko-Bot

By Jennifer Welsh | November 24, 2010 12:58 pm

geckoThe gecko robot just keeps getting better. Not only can the robot climb up walls like the sticky-toed lizard, but it can automatically right itself while falling.

Geckos, like cats and buttered toast, can naturally turn themselves around in midair. Cats are able to right themselves because they are flexible and can twist their bodies around. The gecko, on the other hand, uses its large tail’s inertia to twist its body around to the correct orientation, explains Cosmic Log:

Within about a tenth of a second, the geckos flipped their tails around to induce body rotation. Then they spread out their tails as well as their feet into a “belly-down skydiving posture” position to stabilize the fall. All of the geckos that used their tails in this way landed on their feet, even in wind-tunnel tests–while none of the tailless geckos could do the same trick.

Hit the jump for a video of the gecko-bot in action.

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New Footage to Reveal How Jesus Lizard "Runs" on Water

By Brett Israel | October 14, 2009 2:04 pm

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.

Related Content:
Discoblog: The Science of Virgin Birth
Discoblog: What Kind of Peer-Review Would Jesus Want?
Discoblog: Man, Pronounced Dead, Spontaneously Comes Back to Life

Video: YouTube / National Geographic

111-Year-Old Reptile Becomes a Dad After Tumor Surgery

By Nina Bai | January 26, 2009 7:12 pm

henryThe tumor on his genitals had made Henry into an old grouch. At his new home in the Southland Museum and Art Gallery, he was aggressive and unpopular with the ladies. Sure, Henry was already in his 70s—but in tuatara years, he was still in his prime.

Tuataras, a lizard-like reptile belonging to an ancient lineage that has changed little since the time of the dinosaurs, are known for their longevity. They don’t reach sexual maturity until age 20 and many have been known to live past 100.

Henry’s fortunes reversed in 2002, when at the age of 105, he underwent an operation to remove his inconvenient (and cancerous) tumor. Since then, his human caretakers say he has regained a vigor that belies his age. Whereas before the operation, Henry was often kept in solitary confinement due to his foul temper, now he is kept in the company of three female tauturas. Even so, museum keepers were surprised when Henry recently became a father at the age of 111, after a romantic romp with an 80-year-old female named Mildred.

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Komodo Dragons Attack Villagers; Villagers Blame Environmentalists

By Andrew Moseman | August 25, 2008 4:05 pm

KomodoTen-foot-long reptiles in Indonesia have the taste for human flesh, and it’s the fault of…the Nature Conservancy?

That’s what some of the locals are saying. According to the Wall Street Journal, a Komodo dragon killed a young boy last year near the dragons’ main home, Komodo National Park, and since then dragon attacks on people have become much more frequent. And one reason the Komodos have started feeding on the locals, they say, is that they have stopped feeding the Komodos.

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