MAY 16, 2018 5:43 PM PDT

Why Do Some Lizards Have Green Blood?

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

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
JAN 10, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Did Sleep Precede the Brain?
JAN 10, 2021
Did Sleep Precede the Brain?
The longer we stay awake without sleeping, the more difficult it can become to think straight. But our functioning is re ...
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 ...
APR 09, 2021
Plants & Animals
Speedbumps Reduce Endangered Red Colobus Deaths
APR 09, 2021
Speedbumps Reduce Endangered Red Colobus Deaths
The endangered Zanzibar red colobus is a rare primate that lives only in the Zanzibar archipelago. New research from Ban ...
APR 15, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
What can snakes teach us about durability?
APR 15, 2021
What can snakes teach us about durability?
A team of biologists, chemists, and engineers are studying snake locomotion in order to help them better design durable ...
APR 20, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
The History of Lettuce Domestication Told Through DNA
APR 20, 2021
The History of Lettuce Domestication Told Through DNA
The more we know about the genetic history of food crops, the more prepared we'll be to maintain their growth through en ...
Loading Comments...