What Is a Jesus Christ Lizard?


Quick Answer

A Jesus Christ lizard, also called the "common basilisk," is a South American reptile that runs across the surface of water on its hind legs. Walking on water is a reputed miracle of the religious figure, Jesus, demonstrating his dominion over nature.

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Full Answer

The common basilisk is able to run across water due to the unique structure of its feet and the special stride it uses while running. Its hind feet are very wide and include flattened toe pads. This gives the lizard a large surface area to support itself while running. As the lizard takes steps on water, its body sways in the direction of the off foot to retain its balance, generating lateral forces which keep it upright. Smaller lizards are more capable of running without breaking through the surface tension of water; heavier lizards sink after a few yards.

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