The tegu is an incredible lizard species – the South America-based creature is colored black and white and can grow up to lengths of well over four feet.
Interestingly, however, that’s not the most incredible part of these animals’ existence. More so is their ability to actively regulate their own body temperature up to 10º Celsius higher than their surrounding environment, and they do so depending on the time of year.
Glen Tattersall of Brock University in Canada and Cleo Leite of the Federal University in Brazil kept track of the tegu’s temperature-changing qualities throughout the changing of the seasons, and what was found was that during seasons of mating, the tegu was able to increase its body temperature and maintain that temperature for as long as eight days before returning to normal body temperature.
The findings are published in the Journal Science Advances.
It’s a unique quality, because unlike mammals, which are able to regulate their own body temperature, most reptiles rely on the Sun to get their heat. The tegu was able to increase its own body temperature on demand without the Sun around, which is something most other reptiles are not known to be able to do.
Because it seemed like a fluke in the data, the researchers reportedly spent an additional three years studying the creatures to confirm that the data was actually true.
The way these large lizards are able to generate this heat is still a mystery. Some theories suggest that it could be related to hormones secreted by the body’s organs, but this still remains a theory and is unconfirmed.
Another reptile known to have a similar quality are female pythons, which use motion to generate heat capable of warming their eggs, but the tegu’s feature is present in both males and females, which is yet another unique quality the tegu possesses.
Source: Science Advances