NOV 22, 2016 11:18 AM PST

This Lizard Can Drink Water From Sand Through its Feet & Back

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

A unique kind of lizard known as the thorny devil, or also called the thorny dragon, is able to live in intensely dry and arid environments because of an innate ability to draw water from the sand beneath its feet.
 

The thorny devil can drink water without using its mouth, kind of.

 
Described in the Journal of Experimental Biology, researchers discuss the creature’s unique ability.
 
The team of researchers, led by Philipp Comanns of RWTH Aachen University in Germany, examined a grand total of six of these lizards from Mount Gibson, Western Australia in order to study how the creatures got their water.
 
Their mouths aren’t really adapted for drinking water; instead, they’re made for sucking up lizards, their main source of food. As a result, scientists know they don’t drink water with their mouths.
 
They took a closer look at their feet, which are always in contact with the ground, and they found microscopic grooves that seem to be able to draw water from the sand they’re standing on. These grooves network straight to the lizard’s mouth, where they can then drink the water they collect.
 
To test the theory, they placed the lizards in a small puddle of water. Without even using their mouths to drink, the water was slowly absorbed through just their feet. The lizards’ mouths opened and closed the entire time this occurred, likely a part of the drinking process, but the mouth never made contact with the water puddle itself.
 
The researchers also explain that the lizards will continue to absorb water from the sand through their skin until these grooves are full, after which they’ll sit still and drink the water by channeling it to their mouths. The skin is reportedly able to hold up to 3.2% of the lizard’s body weight in water.
 
While there are other kinds of animal species around the world that can collect water through their skin, the thorny devil is the only known species that can actually channel that water directly to their mouths for drinking. Other species simply absorb that water through their skin and it goes where it needs to go from there.
 
In some cases, these lizards even take advantage of desert dew by kicking up moist sand on their backs so that their back skin can perform double duty by absorbing the moisture while their feet work on the ground beneath them.
 
Because the dry areas these creatures live in don’t usually have water puddles and readily accessible sources of water, the lizards likely evolved to develop this ability on their own in order to survive in this kind of climate.
 
While this isn’t ordinary behavior for all lizards, it is for the thorny devil, and although it sounds impossible for us, it has helped the thorny devil to survive mother nature for all these years.
 
Source: The Atlantic

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.
You May Also Like
FEB 07, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Watching the Body Plan Emerge
FEB 07, 2021
Watching the Body Plan Emerge
Animals grow from what looks like a clump of cells, but those cells organize into specific patterns, laying the right fo ...
FEB 09, 2021
Plants & Animals
Venus Flytraps Generate Magnetic Fields
FEB 09, 2021
Venus Flytraps Generate Magnetic Fields
The Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) might be the most famous carnivorous plant; it can entice prey to land on its leaf ...
MAR 09, 2021
Microbiology
Dogs' Paws Are Cleaner Than Their Owners' Shoes
MAR 09, 2021
Dogs' Paws Are Cleaner Than Their Owners' Shoes
Assistance dogs are vital to many people who need them to perform daily tasks, but are sometimes denied entry to places ...
MAY 02, 2021
Plants & Animals
In 10 Years, Brazilian Amazon Emitted More Carbon Than it Absorbed
MAY 02, 2021
In 10 Years, Brazilian Amazon Emitted More Carbon Than it Absorbed
New work in Nature Climate Change has determined that in the last decade, the Brazilian Amazon released over 20% more ca ...
MAY 04, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
The Weird World of Flatfish
MAY 04, 2021
The Weird World of Flatfish
Many of us have wondered how fish like sole and flounder ended up with two eyes on one side of their heads, including sc ...
JUN 18, 2021
Health & Medicine
Antidepressants in Waterways Can Change Animals' Behavior
JUN 18, 2021
Antidepressants in Waterways Can Change Animals' Behavior
Prescription drugs in waterways may be altering the behavior of aquatic animals, according to a study published this wee ...
Loading Comments...