MAY 16, 2018 05:43 PM PDT

Why Do Some Lizards Have Green Blood?

While many recognize red as the traditional color of blood, you might be surprised to learn that a handful of lizards sport green-colored blood instead.

Prasinohaema prehensicauda is just one example of a green-blooded skink.

Image Credit: Chris Austin, LSU

Native to New Guinea, a group of skinks dubbed Prasinohaema exhibit this green-blooded trait. But this unusual characteristic expectedly raises the question of why the species evolved to have green-colored blood in the first place.

Curious researchers from Louisiana State University wanted to learn more, and so they closely analyzed more than 51 species in an attempt to find out. Their findings appear in the journal Science Advances this week.

At least six of the species they examined sported green blood, and it seems that the unusual hue comes from excess amounts of green bile pigment known as biliverdin; this in and of itself was a peculiar finding, as high concentrations of biliverdin triggers jaundice in humans.

That said, how does it not do the same for Prasinohaema? A good question indeed…

"In addition to having the highest concentration of biliverdin recorded for any animal, these lizards have somehow evolved a resistance to bile pigment toxicity," explained Zachary Rodriguez, the lead author of the study.

"Understanding the underlying physiological changes that have allowed these lizards to remain jaundice-free may translate to non-traditional approaches to specific health problems."

Related: These lizards use body oscillations to dig into the dirt around them

It remains a mystery as to how and why the lizards developed this green-colored blood, but it seems evident from DNA samples collected during the analysis that green-blooded lizards likely evolved from red-blooded ancestors. That said, this development very well could have been an adaptation to the lizards’ surrounding environment.

The study doesn’t pinpoint the direct causes for this supposed adaptation but finding out is on the to-do list, and follow-up genetic analyses may hold the answer.

"Our next goal is to identify the genes responsible for green blood," Rodriguez continued.

Related: This lizard can drink water from the sand through its feet and back

Learning about the mechanisms at work here are potentially rewarding. If researchers can decrypt the mystery, then it may have implications for treating the illness in people.

It should be fascinating to see what the researchers uncover as they continue their research.

Source: EurekAlert

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
SEP 15, 2019
Earth & The Environment
SEP 15, 2019
Teen Climate Activist Speaks at French Parliament
Last Thursday, Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg spoke in front of the French Parliament as part of a cross-party group about climate change called &...
SEP 15, 2019
Microbiology
SEP 15, 2019
Colombia Declares a State of Emergency as Banana Fungus Reaches the Americas
Bananas: the world's most popular fruit, a major source of food for millions of people, and now, seriously threatened by fungus....
SEP 15, 2019
Plants & Animals
SEP 15, 2019
Barn Owls Fly Without Making a Sound
When most birds take flight, their wingbeats cause a ruckus; this is typically a repetitive ‘swooshing’ noise generated by the rushing air that...
SEP 15, 2019
Plants & Animals
SEP 15, 2019
Here's Why High-Speed Cameras Are Used to Film Wildlife
When watching TV shows about wildlife in its natural habitat, filmmakers for popular firms such as Animal Planet and National Geographic often showcase vid...
SEP 15, 2019
Health & Medicine
SEP 15, 2019
Marijuana Has Possible Transgenerational Effects
Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit psychoactive drug in both the United States and Europe, meaning that many parents, or potential parents, are usi...
SEP 15, 2019
Immunology
SEP 15, 2019
A New Way To Fight Severe Peanut Allergies
Dr. Sandra Lin explains how SLIT is currently being used to treat allergies other than peanuts.    Over 1 million U.S. children have an allergy t...
Loading Comments...