Running on water is impossible? Not really!

The Jesus Christ Lizard can do so.


The common Basilisk (Basiliscus basiliscus), also called Jesus Christ Lizard, is a reptile living in Central and South America. They can easily be found in wet areas near rivers and streams (Wikipedia). Their nickname is given due to their distinctive and amazing ability that no other reptile or animal can imitate: they can run on water!

See videos of Common Basilisk by National Geographic and BBC wildlife here:

Video from National Geographic:


Video from BBC wildlife:


The video shows how the lizard can use the legs and tail to run away from their predator even on water!. They stand upright and use hind legs to run on water while the front ones are remained close to the body. According to the research done by National Geographic, they can reach a speed of 1.5 metres per seconds. However, they can only remain running on water when the water surface is still and for a short distance of about 4.5 metres (BBC wildlife), which is quite enough for them to run away from snakes and other predators though.

But how can the lizard run on water? To understand this, we have to look at their body structure. Having long toes and a thin fringe between them which are widely open when running on water, Basilisks can increase their feet’s areas that are interactive with water surface (BBC news). They create air bubbles under the toes and use them to push ahead and move forward. Long tail is also a contributing factor to keep balance and prevent slipping off in to water. They have to run fast enough so that the structure of the water surface is not broken, otherwise they have to swim (BBC news). In addition, they are aware of how to create a force, called the massive sideways forces in a certain direction that can help them stay upright (BBC).

The individual’s speed varies depending on the age and  the size. The juveniles can run faster and on a longer distance than the older ones as they are stronger and more active. The smaller and thinner ones are able to run faster and even reach 10 metres without sinking into water (Wikipedia).



Jesus Christ Lizard, National Geographic channel on Youtube, accessed on 1 April, 2010:

Brown Basilisk, BBC wildlife, accessed on 1 April, 2010:

Lizard filmed ‘walking on water’, BBC news, accessed on 1 April, 2010:

Common Basilisk,, accessed on 1 April, 2010:

Green Basilisk Lizard, National Geographic, accessed on 1 April, 2010:

Photos from National Geographic and BBC wildlife.

One thought on “Running on water is impossible? Not really!

  1. Hi,

    This is a nice blog. I love animals and I am always hungry for reading interesting things about them. Keep on like this!

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