5. Water & pH

Running on Water

Green Basilisk in Tortuguero National Park

Basiliscus plumifrons (green basilisk)

Common Basilisk

Basiliscus basiliscus (common basilisk)

Lizards of the genus Basiliscus have the nickname “Jesus Christ lizard” for their very special adaptation regarding water.

In the face of danger, these lizards run on their hind legs across water to escape predation. Their hind legs have long toes that help in increasing surface area to distribute their weight so they can propel themselves on the surface of the water. They do not sink because the surface tension of the water is not broken by the large surface covered by their feet. After about 4.5m, they lose sufficient momentum to propel themselves on the water surface and break through. H-bonds enable this adaptation.