Tuesday, February 23, 2016


In Harry Potter, we met a basilisk. It was not the basilisk that you might find in nature. It was the mythological basilisk, a giant dragon-like creature that is dangerous and venomous. The real basilisk is harmless but very interesting.

So, this week we visit the rainforests of Central and South America. There we will find a lizard with God-like powers. The Basilisk Lizard can walk on water! Say, halleluiah!

Actually, it’s not really a special power, it’s nature. This critter has evolved in such a way that it can run across the surface of water.

Meet the Green Basilisk.

Male Green or Plumed Basilisk - Photo credit: bestphotosite.net

There are four known species of Basilisk: the Green or Plumed Basilisk, which is pictured above, the Brown or Stripped Basilisk, the Common Basilisk, and the Western, or Redheaded Basilisk.

Males of the Green Basilisk species can grow up to three feet in length. However, the length of any basilisk is mostly in the tail. When they mature, the male Green Basilisk has a prominent dorsal fin and a large crest on its head.

All basilisks are arboreal and live near water. They are marvelous swimmers and can stay underwater up to thirty minutes. Not only can they swim well, and dive for long periods of time, they can also run on top of ponds and streams.

The Common Basilisk is brown. 

Common Basilisk - Photo credit: Stephen Easely

The Red-Headed Basilisk is easily distinguished by the red coloring on its head and face.

 Redheaded Basilisk - Photo credit: Mongbay.com

The Stripped Basilisk is brown in color with stripes running down his back.

 Striped Basilisk - Photo credit: backyardandnature.net

Basilisks are a separate lizard group from other lizards. Why? Well, first, they have crests on their heads and fins running down their backs. And second, they have extremely long legs, which allow them to ‘run.' They do this by raising themselves on their back legs and holding their front legs off the ground. This bipedal ability has allowed the basilisk not only to escape predators, it also gives them an edge when catching a meal. Special adaptations on their back feet allow the basilisk to run on water. Their feet are specially designed to create water pockets beneath them, thus holding this lightweight creature on the surface. They can 'walk' on water for about twenty feet before they start to sink. This unique skill has earned them the name Jesus Christ lizard. So, perhaps we can indeed say that they do have God-like powers.

These two videos will give you more information about the basilisk and show you exactly how they are able to run on water.

For more information about basilisk lizards, visit the following sites: 

The basilisk lizard is not endangered so there’s no need to worry about this little guy. 

I hope you enjoyed this week's post. Feel free to share and leave a comment.

Jeanne E. Rogers, Award Winning Author
The Sword of Demelza and The Gift of Sunderland
Middle-Grade Fantasy Where Endangered Animal Heroes Roam the Pages!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


No, not that kind of introduction—I know it’s cute, but there is also another type of introduction that is not so wonderful. It’s called the introduction of species or, as it’s sometimes called—the introduction of alien species, or even the introduction of exotic species. It doesn't matter how you say it. The bottom line is that the introduction of non-native species into a habitat in which they would not otherwise exist can be a serious problem. The introduction of species is not limited to animals. It can include plants, fungi and microorganisms as well.



Fragrant Water Lily

I think it’s only fair to say that not all introductions of alien species are bad. Take corn for example. Did you know that corn is not native to the United States? That’s saying a lot because the U.S. is the world’s largest supplier of corn. Native Indians, in the highlands of Mexico, cultivated corn hundreds of years ago. As the Indians traveled north, they took corn with them. That was a good thing. What would we do without corn flakes? To read more about corn and its history, go to this site: http://www.campsilos.org/mod3/index.shtml

Image credit: Campsilos.org

There are a number of other examples, which include cultivation of various plants for either beauty or food. The bottom line is that with the advent of worldwide transportation, i.e., boats, planes, trains, etc., the transfer of species from their natural habitat into an ecosystem where they don’t belong can cause tremendous damage.

Australia is a microcosm (a community, place, or situation regarded as encapsulating in miniature the characteristic qualities or features of something much larger) for the study of the effect of the introduction of alien species. Feral species, which are domesticated animals that have escaped and live in the wild, have done tremendous damage to the Australian outback. The domestic cat is not native to Australia and after its introduction, it depleted some of Australia’s native marsupials. The camel was brought to Australia and was initially beneficial in developing the central desert, making it habitable for humans. However, after their job was done, the camels were set free and are now roaming wild in the Australian outback. Australia more camels than any other country-more than one million. They have caused problems for farmers because they damage the farms and the water holes, which are meant for cattle.

Feral Cat

Another troublemaker is the cane toad. It was brought to Queensland, Australia, in an effort to control a specific beetle that was harming crops. This was back in 1935, and since that time, the cane toad population has boomed because it has no natural enemies. The result has had a devastating effect on Australia’s natural inhabitants. Certain species of quoll, a small marsupial, are critically endangered because of the toad’s toxic venom.

Photo Credit: Tim Wimbourne, Reuters

The introduction of alien species into a habitat, which they would otherwise not live, is a huge subject. The pros, cons and repercussions of their effect on native wildlife and ecosystems cannot be completely covered here. What I have tried to do is give you a bit of information, encapsulate some of the large issues and provide some connections where you can go to learn more.

This video is excellent in terms of its explanation of invasive species. I highly recommend you watch it if you want to understand fully what these introductions are and what they mean to people, who by the way, are also an invasive species.

Although there are many positive aspects of the introduction of species, it is still one of the major causes of endangerment. Understanding what works and what doesn’t is essential if we are to preserve wildlife; plant, animal, and other, in their natural environment.

For more information on the introduction of alien species, visit these sites:

I hope you have enjoyed this week’s post and will considering coming back again next week. Please share my post and feel free to leave a comment.


Jeanne E. Rogers, Award Winning Author
The Sword of Demelza and The Gift of Sunderland
Middle-Grade Fantasy Where Endangered Animal Heroes Roam the Pages!