5 remarkable reptile facts herpetologists want you to know

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 … Continue reading 5 remarkable reptile facts herpetologists want you to know

Ancient bird turns out to be a lizard

A bizarre, extinct animal that puzzled researchers and was previously misidentified as bird has now been classified as a new species of lizard, according to an international team of researchers. The new species, Oculudentavis naga (named in honour of the Naga people of Myanmar and India), has been described in a new paper in Current Biology. The specimen used to … Continue reading Ancient bird turns out to be a lizard

Looking ‘weird’ protects robot lizards from predation

It’s often thought that prey animals face a complicated biological paradox: how do they stand out to attract potential mates, while remaining inconspicuous enough not to attract the attention of their predators? New research from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) changes our understanding of the evolution of stand-out behaviour or appearance among prey … Continue reading Looking ‘weird’ protects robot lizards from predation

Origin of the world’s largest lizard

Unravelling the origins of the Earth’s largest living lizard, the Komodo dragon, scientists have found that its ancestors bred with sand monitor lizards from Australia and southern New Guinea millions of years ago. “The Komodo dragon and sand monitors share more genetic variants between them than expected, suggesting they bred with each other in the … Continue reading Origin of the world’s largest lizard

To climb, maybe robots need toes

At right is a close-up of the toepads of a Tokay gecko (Gekko gecko), and it has links to a few branches of science.  Biology, of course, but also chemistry and physics, because each of the 15,000 hairs on each gecko foot has split ends – each with maybe thousands of nano-size tips – which maximise contact … Continue reading To climb, maybe robots need toes

Hurricane coming? Get bigger toepads

Lizard groups that frequently experience hurricanes evolve larger toepads than those that don’t, according to a new study. That makes sense and had rather been assumed, but a definitive link has not been possible because hurricanes happen so infrequently that some scientists suspected their impact would be erased by natural selection favouring normal conditions.  Now … Continue reading Hurricane coming? Get bigger toepads

When lizards change cologne

Lizards develop new chemical signals for communicating when moved to a new environment, research suggests.  And they can do it rapidly and repeatedly if conditions are right. “What we’ve discovered is that within species there is important variation in chemical signals depending on your context: who’s trying to eat you, who wants to mate with … Continue reading When lizards change cologne