The running style of the Plumed Basilisk - Basiliscus plumifrons
Also known as Plumed, Emerald and Green Basilisk, Basiliscus plumifrons (Corytophanidae) inhabits the rainforests of Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama at the Caribbean side. This species is found mostly in trees, bushes, rocks, logs and riverbanks. If you approach too closely it run away at their hind legs, across the water or into dense bushes.
Basiliscus plumifrons can cross the water for quite some distance, like they run over land. A narrow seam of skin, which runs around each toe, forms a moveable flap that is expanded when its foot is pressed onto the water, thus creating a larger surface area. The force that the basilisk puts into the downward movement of its foot, produces an upward pressure that keeps him from sinking.
When the basilisk presses its foot down onto the water, an air-filled pocket is formed around the foot. This pocket quickly fills with water, so the basilisk must rapidly withdraw its foot to prevent from having to ‘plough’ through the water. As the foot retracts, the moveable skin-flaps on the toes fold down against the sides of the toes to reduce friction against the air.
This combined pressure allows the basilisk to run on water with a speed of 8 to 10 km an hour. Young basilisks can run larger distances on the water before sinking. This ability gave them the name of Jesus Christ lizards.
Basiliscus plumifrons is also an excellent swimmer, often he simply escapes by swimming away.
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Photo credit: ©Dominique Schreckling | Locality: Costa Rica (2006)