Scuba Lizards

Image from article showing anole species forming an air bubbles underwater to “rebreathe”

So! How long can YOU hold your breath under water?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

We humans need an oxygen tank to go scuba diving. What would a lizard use? 

Christopher Boccia at University of Toronto, Canada, and an international team study small anole lizards. And they noticed something STRANGE. The lizards were able to stay underwater for over fifteen minutes! What gives?

To find out, the researchers gently held the anole underwater and observed their technique. Don’t worry! The swimmers could come up whenever they wanted!

The lizards’ secret? Two words: NOSE BUBBLE! Our scaly friends form an air bubble close to their nose that lets them “rebreathe” – like a scuba setup. The researchers think it works because their skin is water resistant. The non-stick surface makes it easier to form a bubble!  

Boccia thinks nose-bubbles evolved when anoles started living by streams and diving for food. Sometimes a good meal takes time!

Now . . . where to buy a tiny wetsuit, goggles and flippers? So cute!

Reference: Boccia, C. K., Swierk, L., Ayala-Varela, F. P., Boccia, J., Borges, I. L., Estupiñán, C. A., Martin, A. M., Martínez-Grimaldo, R. E., Ovalle, S., Senthivasan, S.,Toyama, K. S., del Rosario Castañeda, M., García, A., Glor, R. E., Mahler, D. L.Repeated evolution of underwater rebreathing in diving Anolis lizards. Current Biology, 31, 1-8 (2021).

Image from referenced article.