Basiliscus Laurenti, 1768
Basiliscus is a genus of lizards that includes the basilisks.
Taxonomy and etymology
This word derives from the Greek basilískos (βασιλίσκος) meaning "little king". The specific epithet was given in Carolus Linnaeus' 10th edition of Systema Naturae.
The basilisk has mackled blue spots and a yellow iris, on average measures 70 to 75 mm (2.8–3.0 in), and weighs about 80 grams (3.2 oz). Its growth is perpetual, fast when they are young and nonlinear for mature basilisks. Its long crest-like sails, reinforced in three distinct points (head, back, and tail), confer the impression of creatures such as Dimetrodon and Spinosaurus. Its skin is shed in pieces.
The basilisk sometimes runs as a biped. Basilisks have the unique ability to "walk" on water and, because of this, they have been dubbed as "The Jesus Christ Lizard" in reference to the biblical passage of Matthew 14:22-34. On water, the basilisk can run at a velocity of 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) per second for approximately 4.5 meters (14.8 feet) before sinking on all fours and swimming. Flaps between their toes help support the basilisk, creating a larger surface and a pocket of air. They can also sustain themselves on all fours while "water-walking" to increase time above the surface by about 1.3 meters (4.3 feet).
When the Basilisk detects danger, it can swim at fast speeds, using its crests as rudders. It can also burrow into sand. A ring of muscles around both nostrils prevent sand from entering the Basilisk's nose.
Abundant in the tropical rain forests of Central and South America, from southern Mexico to Ecuador and Venezuela. Recently introduced to Florida, it has adapted to the colder winters by burrowing into the leaf litter for warmth. Current reports sight the basilisk as far north as Fort Pierce, on the state's East Coast, where small groups have crept up the North Fork of the Saint Lucie River.
* Common basilisk, Basiliscus basiliscus
* Jesus Christ lizards
1. ^ "Basiliscus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. http://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=173907. Retrieved October 10, 2008.
Source: Wikipedia, Wikispecies: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License