The basilisk “Jesus Christ, is one of the most amazing and little known beings of the Amazon, that lovers of reptiles and amazing creatures can not miss.
Reptiles and amphibians have to heat their body to be able to start any activity and until they get it, they tend to develop more slowly, which makes them vulnerable. The easiest way for them to absorb heat is to sun down on the branches or stones, but this always poses an imminent danger to these species, since they can be found by their predators with the naked eye.
The most important threat to the basilisk “Jesus Christ comes from heaven: from the birds that hover over them.
It is precisely because of the need to escape quickly before being turned into easy prey, that these small lizards have developed an extraordinary capacity, very unusual in nature: that of walking – running, actually – over the water.
This way of moving quickly on the surface allows them to sneak away quickly from their ferocious predators. The way it nimbly hits the water with its legs prevents them from sinking, allowing it to bounce and literally “walk” on the surface. A human would have to run at 100 kilometers per hour to achieve a similar capacity.
Since Western scientists discovered the basilisk “Jesus Christ”, more than 150 years ago, no one knew how he could defy the laws of physics in order to achieve this” miracle “. It was only in 2004 that a group of scholars from Harvard University, in the United States, managed to find the surprising discovery, determining that it is the amazing force exerted by the propelling movement of their feet, which can keep it stable. This speed allows it to trap air bubbles, thanks to the help of small fin-shaped formations on its hind legs, which make it possible to cross up to 40 meters of water, reaching speeds of up to 10 kilometers per hour.
However, the basilisk is not the one creature that manages to perform the aforementioned feat. There are at least four other animals in nature that can walk on water. The first one is the “Brazilian pygmy gecko”. As its name suggests, it is endemic in Brazil. It is the smallest reptile of all: so small, that it could even drown in a drop of water. It measures between 2 and 4 centimeters, including its tail and its head is the size of a phosphorus head. These dimensions make it smaller even than some insects. Among its unusual characteristics is the conformation of its skin, which repels water thanks to the oils it contains, which added to its tiny size and agile movements, also give it the ability to move on the surface of lakes and rivers.
Another is the “water shoemaker”, an insect very common in the European continent. It measures between two and three centimeters in length and stands out for its long legs and large eyes. It lives mainly in the fresh and still waters, although it is also possible to see it among the nearby bushes. Like the basilisk “Jesus Christ, the” water shoemaker “manages to stay afloat thanks to the hydrophobic hairs that he has on four of his six pairs of legs and the air cushions that he manages to form, which keeps him constantly on the surface, as if walking on floats.
Another specimen with similar capabilities is the “balsa spider”, which is so named because it manages to stay on the surface of the water and move quickly to capture its prey, among which are fish and frogs of tiny size. Unlike those mentioned above, it only uses its extremely light weight in its favor to stand on the surface. However, the “balsa spider” has the ability to submerge and stay under water for up to an hour!
In the realm of birds, the “Achichilique de Clark”, which inhabits the wetlands of North America, is very similar to a goose. In the midst of their mating ritual, these birds raise their legs on the water and begin to move their wings without stopping, which allows them to “levitate” on them, keeping upright, and can also run on the surface.
Although all these creatures live in different parts of the world, the majestic movement they have developed as a way of survival places them on a privileged list in the natural kingdom.
Although it is not entirely simple -like any sighting of animals in their natural habitat- it is possible to spot the basilisk “Jesus Christ” in the rivers of the Ecuadorian Amazon. An unmissable spectacle and that will want to see again and again – if you manage to capture it in video – in slow motion.