FEB 09, 2020 8:40 AM PST

Horned Lizards Are Great Predators, But Also at Avoiding Predation

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

There are at least 17 known species of horned lizard belonging to the genus Phrynosoma, but the giant horned lizard (Phrynosoma asio) is the largest of them all. The giant horned lizard is also quite the able-bodied animal in terms of evading predation and being a predator in and of itself.

Weighing in at just 3.2 ounces, this giant horned lizard demonstrates a pull force of 1.62 pounds with its neck muscles via its horns – that’s a gore force that comes in at more than seven times its own weight. Comparatively, a full-grown bull is only capable of a gore force of about three times its own weight. In scale, that’s substantial difference.

The giant horned lizard also sports an incredibly fast tongue that can eject at prey and pull it in for munching even faster than the blink of an eye. Like other lizards, the giant horned lizard’s tongue is big and sticky, and it’s ideal for snagging insects. In this demonstration, a giant horned lizard strikes at a cricket and bites down on it in a break-neck time of just 30 milliseconds.

But while the giant horned lizard is a capable predator, it’s also great at evading predation. If its horns weren’t intimidating enough, it can stave off larger predators by deliberately breaking blood vessels in its eyes and spewing toxic blood at the predator. This toxic blood is said to be related to the lizard’s diet, which consists of toxic insects.

Most horned lizards of the Phrynosoma genus, and not only the giant horned lizard, appear to be capable of this toxic blood-spewing behavior.

Related: Horned lizards will do just about anything to protect their eggs from predators

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
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