Animals Video

By David Aspinall

An intelligent lizard breathes underwater using an oxygen bubble stored on its nose.

Dr Lindsey Swierk had been studying the water anole for four years trying to work out how they stayed submerged for more than 15 minutes. 

Pic by Caters News

Filmed in Coto Brus, Costa Rica, observed the reptile’s nose bulged at the bridge every so often where an air pocket was based.

Dr Swierk, the Assistant Research Professor at Binghamton University, New York, said: “This behaviour opens up fascinating new doors that allow us to investigate how terrestrial animals adapt to aquatic habitats. 

“I started looking into this odd behaviour in 2015, when I noted a lizard spending 16 minutes completely submerged. 

Pic by Caters News

“I was both impressed and confused about the length of the dive, which motivated me to take a closer look with an underwater camera. 

“We are still figuring out what is going on, but it’s certainly an exciting hypothesis to examine.”

Dr Swierk has been studying lizards for 10 years and had never witnessed this phenomenon before, which she says is to help avoid predators.

Pic by Caters News

She said: “We really don’t know too much about this phenomenon yet, which makes it so interesting. 

“I think it’s possible that some air pockets are being trapped around the anole’s head and throat, and the inhalation and exhalation of the air bubble allow for some ‘trading’ of fresh air among these air pockets. 

“Or perhaps it has to do with using the bubble to get rid of CO2.

“It’s easy to ‘disappear’ to a predator’s eye once you hide underwater for a few minutes.”