There’s An Actual Scuba Diving Lizard

The Lizard Above Can Stay Underwater for up to 16 Minutes

It’s pretty astounding, considering that lizards aren’t known for staying underwater for long periods of time. They, like us, need pure, clean oxygen from the air around them to survive. Without it, they go the way of, well, anything else that has passed on.

Not going to lie, we’re pretty jealous about it. This little creature doesn’t have to pay a dime to hide out under the waves.

But how?

We’re glad you asked. Or, you didn’t ask, but I’ll tell you anyway.

The anole was observed trapping a pocket of air in a bubble under its nose, and as far as we know, that bubble will last until the air runs out. Dr. Lindsey Swierk, who discovered the anole exhibiting this behavior in the rivers of Costa Rica, said there isn’t much that we know about the mechanism at this time.

Photo: Dr. Lindsey Swierk

Previously the lizards were believed to stay under water for shorter periods of time by holding their breath, and this is the first time these unique reptiles were observed so clearly exhibiting this particular survival method.

Discovery

Dr. Swierk first discovered the lizards during a trip to Costa Rica in 2015. Noting that they would jump into the water never to be seen again, she grew curious as to how exactly they were surviving such long periods of time among the fish. Later, she came along with a camera and caught footage of the bubble for the first time.

What’s peculiar is that they’re not apt for underwater predation, meaning that this device is simply a survival mechanism. In the past amphibians have been known to absorb oxygen through their skin while underwater, but this is something that lizards are incapable of, which likely led to this adaptation.

In Other Species

Many have seen the videos circulating around the internet of spiders that take bubbles underwater as a source of air, but that’s different. In those cases they’ll blow a bubble and attach it externally. This anole appears to have a biological feature which allows the bubble to be stored within a pocket, making it more like having a regulator attached to your face.

Did we mention that we’re jealous?

– Todd Allen Williams, Senior Editor