It’s not every day you see a “scuba-diving” lizard. That is, unless you’re herpetologist and researcher Lindsey Swierk.
This extraordinary behaviour has been observed and filmed for the first time by ecologist Lindsey Swierk of Binghamton University, New York. Her footage shows that there are pockets of air adhering to the head and body of the lizard when it is underwater.
Found in the streams of southern Costa Rica, these tiny scuba divers have created a “scuba tank” method – blowing a giant air bubble around their nose – in order to “breathe” underwater for a record 16 minutes.
By breathing out a big bubble that envelops these air pockets and taking it back in, Swierk thinks the lizard may be extracting the oxygen from the pockets. “They are probably extracting lower concentrations of oxygen every time they’re respiring the air bubble, but it might just be enough to keep them underwater for long enough that they can escape a threat,” she says.