Did you know that there are lizards that can run across water?
In Central and South America, a group of such lizards exists. These lizards, which are in the family Corytophanidae and the genus Basiliscus are called basilisks due to their resemblance to the mythical basilisks. However, they are also known as Jesus Christ lizards (lagarto de Jesus Cristo en español) in reference to the biblical passage of Matthew 14:22-34, where Jesus Christ walked on water.
Why do basilisks run on water? When a predator is chasing them, they can move much faster by running across the water’s surface than swimming. In fact, they can run on water at a velocity of 4.9 feet (1.5 meters) per second for approximately 14.8 feet (4.5 meters) before sinking on all fours and swimming. To accomplish this, they have flaps between their toes, which create a larger surface area and a pocket of air underneath their feet. Watch a basilisk escape from a hungry snake in the video below.
As you can see, basilisks move very quickly when they cross water, so even aquatic snakes have difficult catching up to them. In case you’re eager to watch more footage of the Jesus Christ lizard doing its thing, check out another fantastic video below.