Today is Reptile Awareness Day! We reached out to our lizard-loving scientist friends to learn their favourite reptile facts to bring them to you to celebrate the day.
1. Big and venomous
The Komodo dragon is venomous! And the extinct giant relative Megalania was the largest venomous animal to have ever lived.
Brian Fry, University of Queensland
2. Et tu, Brutus?
Most reptiles have indeterminate growth. This means they grow rapidly from birth and then continue to grow even after reaching adulthood, whereas humans basically stop growing upon reaching adulthood. This is why every once in a while, a giant snake or crocodile is found.
Dane Trembath, Australian Museum
3. Digging monitors
A monitor lizard here in Australia has the deepest nests of any known vertebrate on Earth, burrowing down (through backfilled sand) to up to four metres or more! They also dig these crazy helical burrows that were only known from extinct animals from the fossil record before this discovery.
Simon Clulow, University of Canberra
4. Duel placentas
Live-bearing lizards have a placenta (as mammals do) – but most have two different placentas for each baby! There’s a mammal-like placenta that provides the embryo with oxygen, sugars and proteins, and a placenta for the yolk sac that most reptile embryos still retain, that tops up the fat reserves.
Mark Hutchinson, University of Adelaide and South Australian Museum
5. Robust reptiles
Sea snakes can breath through their skin! Up to 30% of their oxygen requirements can be exchanged underwater, allowing them to dive deep. One sea snake even has an enlarged vein that passes over the brain to increase oxygen supply to the head while diving.
Jenna Crowe-Riddell, University of Adelaide
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