Jesus Christ Lizard

Jesus Christ Lizard - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Jesus Christ Lizard – Photograph by Laura Lecce

I believe that what I have photographed here is a green basilisk lizard, commonly found on the Atlantic side of Costa Rica. The adult males have three crests, one on the head, back and tail (which makes them look like a mini dinosaur). Adult females only have one on the head, and juveniles don’t have any. Despite growing quite large (up to 3 feet long head to tail), they are a skittish lizard, but this particular green beauty was quite comfortable hiding deep in the protection of these tree roots. Unfortunately for me, it made for some pretty uncomfortable and awkward photography half sitting/lying in some bushes and rocks on the edge of a steamy hot spring in my bikini. I think some of the other tourists thought I was a mad person photographing tree roots! Anyway, these lizards are also called Jesus Christ lizards for their ability to run across water, usually when spooked by a predator. Knowing that this is their best method of escape, they are often found in trees along the edges of a body of water. They are also great swimmers and can reportedly spend up to 30 minutes underwater. Click here for a very cool slow motion video by National Geographic of the Jesus Christ lizard running across water. Enjoy!