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Basiliscus plumifrons

Basiliscus plumifrons, Photo: Michael Lahanas

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Cladus: Craniata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Cladus: Reptiliomorpha
Cladus: Amniota
Classis: Reptilia
Cladus: Eureptilia
Cladus: Romeriida
Subclassis: Diapsida
Cladus: Sauria
Infraclassis: Lepidosauromorpha
Superordo: Lepidosauria
Ordo: Squamata
Cladus: Unidentata Episquamata Toxicofera
Subordo: Iguania
Infraordo: Pleurodonta

Familia: Corytophanidae
Genus: Basiliscus
Species: Basiliscus plumifrons

Basiliscus plumifrons Cope, 1876

Basiliscus plumifrons Cope, 1875
Basiliscus plumifrons - BOULENGER 1885
Basiliscus plumifrons — PETERS & DONOSO-BARROS 1970
Basiliscus plumifrons — LANG 1989
Basiliscus plumifrons — BONETTI 2002


FA Bisby, YR Roskov, MA Ruggiero, TM Orrell, LE Paglinawan, PW Brewer, N Bailly, J van Hertum, eds (2007). Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2007 Annual Checklist. Digital resource at Species 2000: Reading, U.K.[1]
Basiliscus plumifrons COPE 1876, Apr 15, 2003, Etzold, T.Uetz, Peter, uBio
Basiliscus plumifrons COPE, 1876, the Reptile Database

Vernacular names
čeština: Bazilišek zelený
Deutsch: Stirnlappenbasilisk
English: Plumed basilisk, Green Basilisk
español: Basilisco verde
galego: Basilisco verde
日本語: グリーンバシリスク
Nederlands: Kroonbasilisk
polski: Bazyliszek płatkogłowy
中文: 雙嵴冠蜥

The plumed basilisk (Basiliscus plumifrons), also called commonly the green basilisk, the double crested basilisk, or the Jesus Christ lizard, is a species of lizard in the family Corytophanidae. The species is native to Central America.

Geographic range

The natural distribution of B. plumifrons ranges from eastern Honduras, through Nicaragua and Costa Rica, to western Panama.[3][4]
Taxonomy and etymology

The Green basilisk's generic name Basiliscus is taken from the legendary reptilian creature of European mythology which could turn a man to stone by its gaze: the Basilisk.[5] This name derives from the Greek basilískos (βασιλίσκος) meaning "little king".[5] This generic name was given in Carl Linnaeus' 10th edition of Systema Naturae.[5]

For the origin of the nickname "Jesus Christ lizard", see § Behaviour.
Male plumed basilisk

The plumed basilisk is the largest basilisk species, with an average snout-to-vent length(SVL) of approximately 10 inches (25 cm). Including the tail, it can reach 3 feet (91 cm) in total length. Adults are brilliant green, with bright yellow eyes, and small bluish spots along the dorsal ridge. Males have three crests: one on the head, one on the back, and one on the tail, while females only have the head crest.[6] Juveniles are less conspicuously colored, and lack the characteristic crests.[7]
File:Corytophanidae - Basiliscus plumifrons.webmPlay media
Video Clip

The predators of B. plumifrons include birds of prey, opossums, coati, and snakes.


Male plumed basilisks are territorial; a single male may defend a territory that several females inhabit, with which he mates. Plumed basilisks do not tolerate much handling when kept in captivity.[citation needed]

B. plumifrons is able to run short distances across the water using both its feet and tail for support, an ability shared with other basilisks and the Malaysian sail-finned lizard, When running, they create an air cavity which they use to push themselves forward with their feet which is mostly seen in adult basilisk lizards. The adults have a greater mass than juveniles so there is less hydrodynamic[disambiguation needed] lag and they are able to run across the water in order to escape their predators. This has earned the plumed basilisk the nickname "Jesus Christ lizard".[8] It is also an excellent swimmer and can stay underwater for up to an hour.[citation needed]
Running on Water

Basilisk lizards are notable for their remarkable ability to scamper across water from the time they are born. Both juvenile and adult basilisk lizards tend to use this unique trait to avoid predation. The mechanisms that allow these lizards to accomplish this task, however, remain generally unknown to researchers.

While some insects are able to run on water using surface tension, basilisk lizards, which have much more mass, achieve this through alternative fluid dynamics. This lizard will use its hind leg to penetrate the surface of the water beneath it to create an air-filled cavity and then retract its leg before the cavity closes. This enables the basilisk lizard to minimize its contact with water. Additionally, this running technique reduces the drag experienced during the run while simultaneously allowing the lizard’s body to be propelled across the water at an average speed of 1.6 m/s. [9]

Although all Basilisk lizards harness this water-running ability, there is notably kinematic variation in these runs for these lizards - variation that is primarily due to differences in running velocity and not differences in the mass of the lizards running. This kinematic variation is unique to basilisk lizards. For other land lizards, kinematic variations in their running are generally similar. Studies have also indicated that the basilisks hindlimbs act as the primary force producer when they are running on water.[10]

The basilisk lizard's remarkable ability to run on water has allowed scientists working with bipedal and quadrupedal robots to potentially create man-made technology that could also run on water through similar mechanisms. [11]
Reproduction and Life Cycle

During the week prior to laying, sexually mature females of B. plumifrons were observed presenting herself to the male. The female would position herself about 0.5 m from the male, lowering her forebody to the sand and raising her pelvic region and tail. Females lay five to fifteen eggs at a time in warm, damp sand or soil. One mother lizard in captivity actually was observed to start digging holes (sometimes referred to as nests) in the soil six months prior to ovipositing, well ahead of the breeding season.[12] The eggs hatch after eight to ten weeks, at which point they emerge as fully independent lizards, although averaging only 43mm SVL (Snout-to-Vent Length) and weighing only about 2 grams.[12] The juvenile males would start to develop the large crests which are characteristic of the male B. plumifrons after six month or up to more than one year, depending on the body conditions of the juveniles.

The plumed basilisk is omnivorous and eats insects, spiders, small mammals (such as rodents), small birds, small nonvenomous snakes, smaller species of lizards, amphibians, small fish, crustaceans (such as freshwater shrimp and crayfish), fruits, seeds, flowers and leaves.[13]

"Basiliscus plumifrons ". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved July 14, 2018.
"Basiliscus plumifrons ". The Reptile Database.
Köhler G (2008). Reptiles of Central America, 2nd Edition. Offenbach, Germany: Herpeton Verlag. 400 pp. ISBN 978-3936180282
Savage JM (2005). The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica: A Herpetofauna between Two Continents, between Two Seas. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. xx + 945 pp. ISBN 978-0226735382
Sprackland, Robert George (1992). Giant lizards. Neptune, New Jersey: TFH Publications. ISBN 0-86622-634-6.
Lanferwerf, Bert (2018). "Basilisk Lizard Care And Information". Retrieved 2015-09-01.
Reid, Fiona A.; et al. (2010). The Wildlife of Costa Rica: A Field Guide. Cornell University Press. p. 169. ISBN 978-0801476105.
"Green Basilisk Lizard | National Geographic". 11 April 2010.
Sweeney, Andrew. "Force Measurement of Basilisk Lizard Running on Water". ProQuest. Arizona State University. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2019.
Tonia, Hsieh. "Three-dimensional hindlimb kinematics of water running in the plumed basilisk lizard (Basiliscus plumifrons)". The Company of Biologists. Journal of Experimental Biology (2003).
Xu, Lin Sen. "Designing and Kinematics Analysis on Running Mechanism of Biped Robot for Water-Running". Scientific.Net. Applied Mechanics and Materials (Volumes 130-134).
Breeding and Growth of the Plumed Basilisk (Basiliscus Plumifrons) at the Royal Melbourne Zoo, Chris B. Banks, British Herpetological Society Bulletin, No. 8, 1983.

Spinner, Leo (2018). "Plumed Basilisk Lizard Care Tips". Retrieved 2015-09-01.


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