Saturday, 27 July 2013

Flying Dragon Captured Alive

Its wings are brightly coloured with orange, red and blue spots and stripes, and they provide camouflage when folded. The flying dragon can reach up to 19–23 centimetres (7.5–9.1 in) in length

Info from Scienceblog

Flying Dragons, of genus Draco, are native to Southeast Asia on such islands as Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra, Borneo and Palawan. The name is a bit deceptive, as they are not capable of true flight; rather, like some arboreal mammals, these reptiles are capable of gliding surprisingly long distances from one tree to another. 

Flying Dragons can glide several meters by stretching abdominal flaps of skin, with rib bones running through them and then using their tail to guide them while gliding; however, in order to achieve any real distance, the lizard must be fairly high up in the canopy. Draco lizards are only capable of gliding from high above – and the higher they are, the longer they are capable of gliding. When one of these phenomenal lizards is about to take off, they point their heads downward, in the general direction of their destination. They are incapable of these amazing gliding abilities in times of substantial wind or precipitation, but these fascinating creatures have adapted an extremely useful, interesting means of escaping their predators by taking to the skies when the weather allows them to.
draco skeleton
Male flying dragons are highly territorial, often scent marking a few trees as their own and acting quite aggressively towards any other male dragons which trespass on their territory. Generally, each individual tree may house between 1-3 female dragons with whom the male dragon will mate. Similar to anoles and various other lizards, their aggressive display includes bobbing. Additionally, male flying dragons may also extend their membranous ‘wings’ (dewlaps) to make themselves appear larger; which is analogous to the throat dewlap extension of male anoles when they are behaving aggressively or territorially. 
see image below
green anole

Flying dragons are similar to many other herptiles in their approach to hunting since they are largely sedentary, ambush predators; patiently waiting for unsuspecting prey to pass by them before they strike. This allows them to conserve energy and essentially have their food come to them. Draco lizards have a short, sticky tongue which they can quickly protrude and retract to capture their small, arboreal insect prey items (especially ants). They may be relatively small (generally less than 12 inches from tip of nose to tip of tail), incapable of true flight and unable to breathe fire; however, I find these miniature dragons much more interesting than the stuff of fables

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