Weird (Herpetological) Science: For Lizards, Looking Strange Could Save Your Keester

It might sound peculiar, but being really bizarre-looking could possibly get you stricken from the menu of would-be predators. If you are a flying lizard, at least.

A recent, rather imaginative study centered on “flying” draco lizards put to the test the concept that looking flashy in nature was an instant signal that you are easy prey, no matter how attractive showiness might make you to the opposite sex. For the research, fortunately, no real draco lizards (which actually glide, not fly, within the forest canopy) were harmed or even jeopardized. Instead, researchers on the island of Borneo constructed and set up over 1500 robotic lizards. There were three types of these plastic mock-ups: ones with conspicuous, ostentatious display; “cryptic” lizards (hidden or no display); and ones with fixed ornaments—the obvious oddballs of the bunch. According to the study, the latter category emerged as the least likely to be bitten or attacked—as evidenced by the way the plastic showed definite predatory encounters. (There was no word about whether or not their robotic stare was off-putting.)

So perhaps elaborate get-ups that are not considered “normal” could merit you a Get Out of A Predator’s Mouth Free card. Might be worth a try, next time you put on that lizard costume!