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Lizards bask for more than warmth.

A lounging lizard might not bask just for warmth--it may be getting a much-needed hit of vitamin D. A new study reports that panther chameleons (one shown) set their sunbathing schedule depending on how much vitamin D they need. The new work, published in the May/June Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, has implications for how zoos and pet owners care for reptiles. Scientists once thought that basking was for regulating body temperature alone, says study leader Kristopher Karsten of Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. But sunbathing is also important for modifying a vitamin D precursor found in skin. Chameleons fed a diet low in vitamin D spent more time basking in the sun than their counterparts, the researchers report. The study "calls attention to the fact that providing ample opportunity for basking is important," says Mark Acierno of Louisiana State University's School of Veterinary Medicine in Baton Rouge.

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Author:Ehrenberg, Rachel
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 9, 2009
Words:151
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