One can see all kinds of wondrous behaviours and phenomena at work in the world of wild animals. Whether it is migratory birds using the sun and other stars to navigate or snakes detecting infrared radiation, examples of creatures using advanced science are everywhere. One such instance is of the “Jesus lizard" walking on water. Indian Forest Services (IFS) officer Susanta Nanda explained the simple physics behind this stunning feat in a recent tweet. The video and the explanation he shared are sure to astound readers.
In the video, Nanda shared on Twitter, one can see a lizard perched on a branch protruding from a stagnant water body. Most non-swimming flightless creatures surrounded by water on all sides would have no way to reach dry land from this position. Not this reptile, though! The video shows the lizard leap into (or rather, onto) the water. In the short time, the creature is in the air, you can see its hind limbs flailing, almost as if it is trying to walk in the air. The lizard then hits the water, running! And it keeps running on the water till it reaches the shore. It looks like the reptile is putting one foot after the other on the water's surface so fast that there is no time to drown.
In the tweet's caption, Nanda explained how the animal is able to do this. “Physics at work…" he wrote, further stating that “surface tension, the force created when water molecules cling together, becomes dominant, allowing small animals to walk effortlessly over water bodies."
Physics at work…Surface tension,the force created when water molecules cling together, becomes dominant, allowing small animals to walk effortlessly over water bodies. pic.twitter.com/LqjTU6vEUt
— Susanta Nanda (@susantananda3) November 30, 2022
It is unclear which lizard species is captured in the video posted by Nanda. However, the reptile most associated with this running-on-water behaviour is the Green Basilisk or the Jesus lizard. This species of reptile can attain speeds of over five feet per second. Since the reptile in the video does not appear to have the big crest on top of its head that is characteristic of the male members of the species, there is a possibility that this is a female Green Basilisk.
Animals as small as the mosquito-like Water Strider and as big as the Western Grebe can walk on water either due to their light bodies or because they slap the water with enough force to keep from drowning.
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