Thursday, February 18, 2010

Flying Dragons

I caught this first item and was surprised I had never heard of it.  It is far too dramatic an animal to have gone unremarked.  A quick query revealed the additional item in Wikipedia.
We already knew about extinct flying lizards and this gives us an excellent example of another such animal.  It also spells out that the weakness of the pterodactyl and its kin was certainly that they were principally gliders.
In this case they are small and arboreal which is a great plan and good for somewhat larger versions.
I would like to see someone work out the mechanics for a larger version becoming airborne and gaining altitude. Perhaps these critters can teach us.
There have been reports of pterodactyls spotted in remote locales. Those reports may be simple hoaxes, except that I really have no reason to rule out the possibility on the basis of purported class extinction when I am seeing creditable evidence that parts of the class are still about, though scarce.
More creditably, wherever strange and dangerous animal came into conflict with humanity over hunting grounds, we solved it.  A hunting band with spears will see off many troublesome large animals, particularly if they like to sleep in the sun by themselves.
Thus whatever remnant populations exist of obscure critters, they will be in areas normally forever free of human activity

Photo: Reddit user Biophilia_curiosus

Can't Wait Until They Find the Full-Sized Species... user by the name of Biophilia_curiosus posted a few photos that he took in Indonesia. They show an amazing species of gliding lizard which basically looks like a miniature dragon. Fans of the film Avatar will be reminded of the flying Toruks... More photos below.

Photo: Reddit user Biophilia_curiosus

Biophilia_curiosus wrote: "The crazy part is that those lines you see running through the wings like veins are actually its ribs! Evolution did a number on these guys. They can expand and contract their chests at will to glide great distances. We were only able to catch females as they were laying their eggs. All we could do is watch as the males soared overhead."

Photo: Reddit user Biophilia_curiosus

The photos were taken in Buton, Indonesia, in the Lambusango Forest reserve. As far as I can tell, nobody has identified the exact species of this lizard. Biology geeks who recognize this specimen, please let us know what it is in the comments below.

\ Draco (genus)


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Draco is a genus of gliding agamid lizard from Southeast Asia. The ribs and their connecting membrane can be extended to create a wing, the hindlimbs are flattened and wing-like in cross-section, and a small set of flaps on the neck serve as a horizontal stabilizer. Draco are arboreal insectivores. Glides as long as 60m have been recorded, over which the animal loses only 10m in height, which is quite some distance when you consider that one of these lizards is only around 20cm long. [1]
The only time a flying lizard ventures to the ground is when a female is ready to lay her eggs. She descends the tree she is on and makes a nest hole by forcing her head into the soil. She then lays 2-5 eggs before filling the hole. She guards the eggs for around 24 hours but then leaves and has nothing more to do with her offspring.[1]
Linnaeus derived the name of this genus from the Latin term for mythological dragons.

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