Hey! What Can Walk On Water?

Though the question of whether Christ walked on water is better left to another subject and article itself, this one purely focuses on the amazing abilities of the “Jesus Lizard” who also seems to share the ability to get across a certain amount of water without sinking. Though many insects also share this same ability to scurry across water, the sheer size and weight between the two organisms show an ultimately huge potential for further study.

Jesus Lizards

One of the original studies began when a couple of scientists named Hsieh and Lauder started examining a skittish tree-dwelling lizard named the Basilik Lizard (Basilicus plumifrons) which is normally indigenous to the warm climates of Central America. With an amazing ability, that when frightened or in fear of a predators approach, this awesome little lizard can drop to the waters surface and literally walk on the water itself.

Ranging in size from birth at around 2 grams or less (0.01 ounces), to more than 200 grams (7 ounces) at full maturity, this incredible little creature can run across water for more than 15 feet at a speed of 5 feet per second before it eventually drops into a quick swim mode. In Central America there are many religious cultures and because of some of the religious similarities of these creatures walking on water they earned the nickname “The Jesus Lizard” many, many years ago.

A unique study was designed to determine how this little lizard was able to walk across water without sinking right away or even tipping over. Hsieh and Lauder used a high-speed camera to film them in a water filled tank that had been sprinkled with tiny reflective beads of glass that sparkled when contact was made. Using new technology, software was designed to analyze the individual movements screen by screen to see the exact force of the lizard’s stride that was generated enabling them to do this amazing feat.

After studying the results and analyzing the data the movement was broken down into three phases, the slap, the stroke and finally the recovery.

The original phase, the slap, is where the foot moves with force, primarily in a downward movement. The second phase, being the stroke, is where the foot primarily moves in a backward motion. The recovery phase finishes off the process by moving the foot up and actually out of the water returning the foot to the original position, starting the first stage again but with an uncanny speed.

Obviously different than other surfaces, water would make it extremely difficult to stay upright for even a for seconds, but the Jesus Lizard’s force that is generated during the slap down phase of its running pattern actually is strong enough to create a pocket of air beneath its feet literally propelling them across the water. The way they are able to maintain their balance is because their hind legs actually work like pistons and the body weight is evened out to the side by a force called Lateral Reaction Force. All in an amazing creature that requires a lot more study, especially in the field of robotics and locomotion. Now you have to admit this was fun but weird, then again if you are into weird stuff then read our weird stuff category.