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Animal World: Our Co-inhabitants

The Extraordinary Water Walkers

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Have you ever watched a kung fu movie and been amazed at the martial art masters’ incredible feat of walking on water with lightning speed? For we animals, it’s not a mystery. More than 1,200 species of animals can walk on water. Some are great “slappers,” and others are “gliders.” These are two terms scientists use to describe how certain animals cross the water’s surface. In today’s program, we will meet some of these amazing water-walkers. Many larger animals are excellent slappers. One of them is the basilisk lizard, which is my kind! You can spot us in the rainforests of southern Mexico, Central America, and even into northwestern Colombia. We stay in trees and always love to be near water. Do you know what our secret trick of striding over the water is? When we run quickly on our rear legs, the fringed skin connecting our long toes unfolds in the water and creates a pocket of air to keep us from sinking. We also use our long tail as a counter-weight so that we can maintain balance and keep our posture upright. The common and curious Asian gecko is found in many warm climates in Asia and elsewhere and seems to defy gravity, as they run upside-down along ceilings. Another incredible animal is motivated to walk on water all due to love. Western grebes, found in western North America, are well known for their rhythmic water dance called “rushing.” The next time when you see us animals, no matter how small we are, take a minute to observe us, and you will find some hidden talents.
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