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Gotta run.

HOW does the basilisk lizard run on top of water? The secret is fancy footwork.

Tonia Hsieh, a biologist at Harvard University, used high-speed film to capture action shots of the basilisk, or Basiliscus plumifrons (BA-suh-LISS-kus PLOO-muh-frons). Her film analysis reveals that the lizard slaps each foot forcefully into the liquid to stay afloat. "The basilisk's foot is really large for its body size," says Hsieh. "And [the foot] can hit the water extremely hard." According to Newton's third law of motion, the superpowered downward push results in an equal and opposite force (push or pull) on the lizard's foot. Tiffs keeps the lizard from sinking.

To move forward, the basilisk speedily kicks each foot backward against the water. A slight sideways motion with each kick helps the lizard keep its balance on the wobbly water surface.

But this water-topping trick zaps energy. If the basilisk were to tire and stop, it would sink. Hsieh says: "Thankfully, they are also fabulous swimmers."
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Physical/Forces; basilisk lizard
Author:Chiang, Mona
Publication:Science World
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 7, 2005
Words:162
Previous Article:Under your skin.
Next Article:Pretty ugly.
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