Hurricanes put a group of little tree-hugging lizards to the test.
UNITED STATES.- Tropical lizards have a sticktoitiveness in high wind that puts TV weather reporters to shame. Now we know why, thanks in part to a highpowered leaf blower. Hurricanes Irma and Maria put a group of little tree-hugging lizards to the test, and scientists were perfectly positioned to see which reptiles survived and why.
Then, Harvard researchers cranked up the leaf blower to observe just how 47 of the Caribbean critters held onto a wooden rod.
Under tropical storm-force winds, the lizards lounged. As the wind speed cranked up, they still held on, although it got tougher.
Even at 102 mph (164 kph), the lizards grasped the pole with two clingy front feet while their tailsand back legs flapped in the win like a flag.
“All the lizard needs is an inside out umbrella and the image would be perfect,” study lead author Colin Donihue said.
But there’s only so much a little lizard can take. At 108 mph (174 kph), it was flying lizard time. Don’t worry. No lizard was harmed in the lab test. “They do go flying in the air, but it is softly into the net and everybody was returned back home” unharmed, said Donihue.
The lizards’ secret weapon to surviving hurricanes? The survivors had 6 to 9 percent bigger toe pads, significantly longer front limbs and smaller back limbs, compared with the population before the storm, according to a study in Wednesday’s journal Nature .