Lizards breathe underwater thanks to the bubble


Lizards of the genus Anolis they are able to breathe underwater. An international research team discovers an ingenious system that allows them to accomplish such a feat.

18 minutes under water

Some lizards Anolis (also called anoli), which are found on the American continent, are semi-aquatic. They are able to go underwater to escape predators or find food. When the French Stéphane Mifsud remains for 11 minutes35 in static apnea, these reptiles remain, for their part, for a maximum of 18 minutes. But how do they do it? After observations in nature conducted in Haiti and Costa Rica, the authors of this new study published on May 12, 2021 in the journal Current biology conducted experiments to document underwater breathing Anolis. They placed samples of several different species underwater and observed their reaction.

A bladder on the muzzle that allows you to breathe

When submerged, lizards Anolis develop a thin plastron of air between the skin and the water“, the study reveals.”Many species can “breathe” by inflating the bib with exhaled air to create a bubble (…) and then inhale that air again.“.”We found that semiconductor anols exhale air in a bubble that sticks to their skin., confirm in Statement Chris Boccia, lead author of the study. The lizards then breathe in the air againThe amount of oxygen contained in this bubble decreases during the dive, reflecting the respiration of the reptile. But what about CO?2 expired? This gas is extremely soluble in water, so it dissolves in the marine environment and does not breathe again, researchers believe. It is also possible that oxygen will enter the bladder thus prolonging the dive, but further research will need to investigate the issue.

Submerged lizard Anolis with a breathing bubble on its snout. Credit: Lindsey Swierk

Semiconductor anols show variations in the anatomical site of bubble formation“, underlines the study. They can be found stuck above the muzzle (most common situation), on the side of the head and near the eyes, or the blister may be in the form of drops just above the nostrils, which is a much rarer layout. To protect them from rain, skin hydrophobic: repels water. For scientists, it is possible that this is a property that favors the binding of water bubbles. ‘Air. The use of these for diving would develop opportunistically. “It is too early to say whether lizard resuscitation will lead to certain human innovations, but biomimic resuscitation can be an interesting proposition for several areas – including diving technology.“, remarks Chris Boccia.



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