Friday, June 10, 2011

A Lizard You Don't Want to Mess With!

Life as a lizard can’t be easy. Think about it. You’re tiny, cold blooded (so you can’t move that fast when it’s chilly), and there’s all kinds of creatures in your neighborhood that would like nothing better than to have you for lunch.

To deal with these stresses, the horned lizard has developed some unique weapons to make him seem positively unappetizing. First off, he’s tough to see. These lizards have the same ability as chameleons to alter their skin color and blend in to the terrain around them. If a predator does manage to spot the lizard, it will puff up its body, making it appear even larger, spinier, and harder to swallow.
Photo: Ben Goodwyn
If, however the horned lizard continues to be harassed, it will employ one of the weirdest defensive weapons in the animal kingdom; it will shoot blood from its eyes. The horned lizard can voluntarily reduce the blood flow leaving its head, which in turn causes blood vessels in the eyelids to rupture. The lizard can aim this red stream with remarkable accuracy at targets up to five feet away!  This is usually enough to deter a hungry coyote, as the blood tastes foul to them.
Photo: Zylorian
If you do happen to spot one of these nasty-looking fellows on a hike, don’t worry; they never deploy their weapons unless provoked. Just walk on by; he’s got ants to eat.

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