It was quite therapeutic to scan through the pictures recently taken in Costa Rica and this Green Basilisk Basilicus plumifrons really caught my eye. Not a bird to be sure, but a very interesting organism and a discovery to be cherished.
Many people know this species by the vernacular name Jesus Christ Lizard, referring to its ability to walk on water. Seems to me this is not such a big deal, my wife often tells me that I am skating on thin ice!
This individual is a male, evidenced by the prominent sail-like crest on the head, and the crest along the dorsal ridge and the tail. The blue throat, which is clearly visible, indicates that it is in mating readiness. The blue and white spots along the sides and back are also prominent.
This species (20cm total length) was actually quite common along the canals of Tortuguero but it was not always easy to see, especially against a backdrop of greenery.
It accomplishes the feat of "walking on water" by running across the surface of the water on its hind legs. Moveable flaps of skin on the sides of each toe increase the surface area of the feet. Basilisks run extremely quickly and can cross small bodies of water without sinking. If they do start to sink they revert to swimming, being excellent swimmers also.
I have seen them scamper across the water but due to their speed I have never been able to capture a picture of them doing so.
It is in all respects a fascinating creature and well worthy of noting on any trip to areas where it may be found.