Running on water

The quickest way for a basilisk lizard to gain heat at the start of the day is to bask out in the sun. But exposing yourself on a highly visible perch over the river can make you unecessarily conspicuous. Dark shapes overhead make the lizard nervous. A hunting bird might expect the lizard to run for cover in the trees, but this particular lizard has developed a different technique to avoid bird predators. The lizard jumps into the river water below and, using its strong back legs, pushes down so fast and so hard with its feet that it never sinks further than a few inches below the surface of the water. Earning itself the nickname the Jesus Christ lizard, this technique helps to buy precious seconds for escape. Ultra-slow motion footage shows the technique in detail. A human would need to run at 65mph to achieve the same feat.

Credits

Role Contributor
NarratorDavid Attenborough
ProducerMartha Holmes
Executive ProducerMichael Gunton

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