A Moment of Science

Lizards that Absorb Water Rather Than Drinking It

While some animals developed ways to extract water from their food, the desert dwelling lizards don’t drink water at all; they absorb it through their skin.

Fringe-Toed Lizard in the Sand

Photo: MojaveRiverFantasy (flickr)

Lizards adapt very well to their environments like using camouflage and even being able to soak water into their skin as hydration.

Ever wonder how animals adapt to the lack of water in the scorching desert?

While some animals have developed ways of extracting water from the food they eat, or reducing water lost through evaporation, desert dwelling lizards don’t drink water at all; they absorb it through their skin.

Scientists have always suspected that lizards absorb water much like their amphibious neighbors. However, unlike an amphibian’s moist skin, dry lizard skin is designed to both keep water in and out.

This perplexed researchers, prompting a study in which they began to notice that when the lizards got wet, they would raise their bodies and lower their heads. They hypothesized that the lizards were somehow using gravity to channel the water down towards their mouths.

Using high-powered microscopes to examine the skin and scales of the lizards, researchers found that two species, the Australian horny devil and the Texas horned, have networks of tiny tube-like channels beneath their scales, which cover their entire body. These tubes funnel water across the body and into the corners of the lizard’s mouth, where it is then swallowed.

Just think of the complex system as a network of straws helping the lizard to get a drink.

  • Pingback: How Do Drinking Straws Work? | A Moment of Science - Indiana Public Media

  • http://www.animalport.com Alex albert

    Really its a great! hypothesized that the lizards are amazing..
    thats great
    http://www.animalport.com/

  • ghanderman

    just another reason why human beings suck at life….human beings, especially western ones, are dull, unimaginative, environmentally maladapted inelegant parasitic creatures who are a scourge upon the natural earth. go eat another bag of chips as you sit your fat undeserving @$$ on your sofa and watch another epi of american idol, why dont you…

Stay Connected

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from A Moment of Science:

Support for Indiana Public Media Comes From

About A Moment of Science

Search A Moment of Science