These Lizards Have Miraculously Adapted To Breathing Underwater

Eliza Gray

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The evolutionary tactics displayed amongst bugs and fellow critters never cease to amaze. The Anoles lizard is a great example of this. While it likely won't surprise many that these pond-dwellers have adapted to survive underwater, the Anoles' methods are a true wonder to the scientific community.

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Found predominantly in the islands of the Caribbean and South / Central America, the semi-aquatic breed has been recorded producing bubbles, which they affix to themselves. Underwater, the trapped oxygen allows them to survive for up to 15 minutes. Scientists have observed they test their efficiency before entering the water by releasing and re-inhaling the bubbles. According to a recent publication in Current Biology, their abilities have reached over a quarter of an hour.

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The paper's author, Christopher Boccia, believed that the lizards employ their bubbles as a "rebreathing device." This natural phenomenon was then mimicked amongst divers, who recycled unused oxygen to prolong their time underwater. A fellow biologist speculated that the lizards could also utilize their bubbles to release pent-up CO2. He used the term "physical gill," to describe the opportunity to extract the gas from the environment via the bubble.

lizard evolution underwater discovery
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Like most evolutionary developments, the species' traits serve a specific purpose. With the ability to dive underwater, the anoles are able to escape their predators, which in their region, consists of snakes. In addition, they're able to hunt smaller prey, like fish. But the lizards are not alone in the aquatic phenomenon. Fellow bubble users include beetles and spiders - and their abilities extend far beyond the 15-minute limits of the tropical anoles. That could be due to their smaller size and therefore reduced oxygen requirements.

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But that certainly does not decrease the impressive accomplishments of the innovative lizards. According to Philip Matthews from the University of British Columbia, the anoles "may be increasing dive time on the order of seconds to a minute." He even added that "this could be all a submerged lizard needs to gain an edge."

That being said, we'd keep an eye on these ever-evolving critters if we were you...