A Moment of Science

Dragon Pushups

Think you are pretty good at push-ups? Well, meet the Jacky Dragon.

Jacky Dragon Lizard on a Rock

Photo: mgjefferies (flickr)

Some animals defenses include making loud noises, butting heads, or fighting. but Jacky Lizards is doing push-ups!

Think you are pretty good at push-ups? Well, meet the Jacky Dragon.

The Jacky Dragon is a small Australian lizard, the animal kingdoms push-up champ.

Most animals have some sort of territorial defense like making loud noises, butting heads, or fighting. Well, Jacky Dragons do push-ups.

At least that’s what it looks like they’re doing. When two male Jacky Dragons square off, one starts the showdown by flicking his tail, then waves his arms back and forth and finally pumps his arms up and down really fast in a push-up like motion.

It’s not clear that the lizards actually count the number of pushups, but it seems to have more to do with speed. Doing pushups very quickly is a display of strength , or a way of saying, “I’m really strong so you’d best not fight me.”

The pushup behavior is actually pretty common among lizards. However, unlike acoustic displays like bird calls and frog croaks, visual displays like lizard pushups haven’t been studied very much. The more we know about how Jacky Dragons and other lizards communicate with their bodies, the more we’ll learn about visual displays in general.

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