NOT HARRY POTTER’S LIZARD!
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!