The Secret of The Flying Draco Lizard

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Have you ever seen the amazing Draco Lizard as it glides between trees? I assume you haven’t seen it live in the wild, but surely on TV or YouTube, If not – watch these awe-inspiring clips we selected for you and discover the hidden secret behind it…

A new exciting research conducted by a scientists from the University of Melbourne and the University of New South Wales, claim to have discovered a captivating finding.

However, before we dive into the fascinating answers of science, let me enhance your knowledge about the remarkable Draco Lizard, which is actually a genus of the Agamid Lizards that are known as Flying Dragons. Did you know that the Draco Lizard is the only living lizard on the planet that has extendable gliding membranes which enable it to glide for long distances? Its ribs and connecting membrane extend and its hind-limbs are flattened, creating flying wings, while a small set of flaps on its neck become the stabilizers and its slender tails are used for steering. Scientists have recorded glides that reached lengths of 200 ft (60 m), over which the Draco Lizard only lost approximately 33 ft (10m) in height. If you consider the size of the lizard, which amounts to only 7.9 in (20 cm), it is definitely a remarkable feat.

The Draco Lizard can be found in Southeast Asia and Southern India, where it glides in the dense forests and jungles to escape danger, attract mates and find meals. It feeds almost exclusively on insects, specially ants and termites. The male Draco is quite a territorial lizard, and it will use its gliding power to threaten rivals and guard the trees it claims as belonging to him. So what is the secret of the Flying Dragon, discovered by scientists from Australia?

The Draco Lizard Mimics Falling Leaves

According to PhD Student Ms. Danielle Klmop and her supervisors Dr. Terry Ord, Dr. Devi Stuart-Fox and Dr. Indraneil Das, the Draco Lizard mimics the red and green colors of falling leaves in order to avoid falling prey to birds, while it glides between trees. The study claims that some populations of the Flying Dragon have developed gliding membranes that resemble the colors of falling leaves, acting as a superb disguise against potential predators.

The scientists observed two groups of Draco Lizards in Borneo, which had different colored membranes and controlled different habitats. One group lived in an area where the falling leaves were red, and the lizards indeed had red gliding membranes, while the other group lived in an area where the falling leaves were dark brown and green, and so were their gliding wings.

It’s quite an astonishing finding, to see how a lizard species managed to evolve and develop its body design according to the colors of falling leaves in its habitat. It practically mimics a moving part of the environment, in order to protect itself from predators. Absolutely astonishing.

Want to read the entire study?

You can find the fascinating research at the website of the Royal Society Publishing: Marked Colour Divergence in the Gliding Membranes of a Tropical Lizard Mirrors Population Differences in the Colour of Falling Leaves.