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The basilisk earns the moniker of Jesus Christ lizard

Photo of the Week: Basilisk Lizard

Basilisk Lizard


Photo by Ray Watt

When trouble comes at the basilisk lizard, it has a unique way of getting away. It drops out of a tree and runs across the water for up to 400 meters! This lizard can literally skim across an entire lake. The basilisk has this ability because of fringes on its back feet. When it hits water, these fringes open up and act like small paddles. At the same time, the basilisk moves its legs really fast, creating air pockets that prevent it from sinking. To maintain these air pockets, the basilisk must run quickly at approximately five feet per second. They have been clocked at 7.5 miles per hour!


The helmet and dorsal crest can be used to tell male from female. Basilisk lizards live in Central and South America. Look for the basilisk lizard in the Frances V.R. Seebe Tropical America exhibit at the ABQ BioPark Zoo.


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