A weird lizard found in Costa Rica seems to have evolved a “scuba tank” on its head that allows him to stay underwater for an incredible amount of time. The creature is known as a water anole (Anolis aquaticus) and its behavior was first spotted by behavioral ecologist Lindsey Swierk of Binghamton University.
“I was impressed and pretty confused about the length of the dive, which gave me an itch to take a closer look with an underwater camera in the next couple of years. That’s when I saw that the anoles appeared to be rebreathing a bubble of air that covered their heads”, said Swierk.
This was not part of her original research plan, but Swierk has spent few years closely observing the lizard’s behavior. In the video, she captured the mysterious diver is seen “breathing” in and out of this bubble, but it’s still not clear where the oxygen is coming from. Swierk has a theory that the lizard has additional air pockets hiding in its head and throat.
“They are probably extracting lower concentrations of oxygen every time they’re respiring the air bubble, but it might just be enough to keep them underwater for long enough that they can escape a threat.”
The longest recorded time this incredible water anole spent beneath the surface so far was 16 minutes.