It’s a bird. It’s a dragon! No? It’s “Draco Volans“!!
Also known as the common gliding lizard, it can be usually found in dense forest with relatively small, closely-spaced trees packed in Southeast Asia.
This creature is not design like a bird and it doesn’t fly. However, it can spread out folds of skin that is attached to its movable elongated ribs to form a pair of wing-like structure and it uses them to glide from tree to tree!
Like all reptiles it doesn’t have the ability to sustain itself in flight, and is capable only of gliding. Despite only the capabilities of gliding, it can travel a great distance during their glide, five meters for every meter they descend approximately.
They usually prefer not to glide in weather such as heavy rain and turbulent weather. When not in flight, these creatures can simply fold their wings like a fan and appear just like any other normal lizards! They are usually ‘parked’ with their head pointing downwards when taking off , this is very similar to aircrafts and planes. Aircrafts prefer taking off with a head-wind rather than a tail-wind, this is because the head-wind will generate better lift for them! I wonder who gave aerodynamic lessons to these creatures..
These lizards claim territory in the wild just like any other animals do. The males usually having one to three trees in his territory and in each of these trees, one to three females usually dwell. The males have a yellow skin flap under their throats that they flap during mating season to attract the females, as for the females, they can be recognized by the blue flap instead.
Now let us take a look at these ‘little dragons’ in action!
“The Circle of Dragons,” by Kylie McCormick, 5th August 2008. URL: http://www.blackdrago.com/rlspecies.htm (accessed on 25th March 2010)
“Draco beccarii: Indonesia,” by Javier M. Flickr. URL: http://www.flickr.com/photos/biophiliacuriosus/4384189694/ (accessed on 25th March 2010)
“Amazing Animals Part 2 – Draco Lizard,” by Brom8305 YouTube Channel, 28th March 2009. URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=caUzdy6QqqE (accessed on 26th March 2010)
Oliver, James A. (1951). “Gliding” in Amphibians And Reptiles, With A Remark On An Arboreal Adaptation in the Lizard, Anolis carolinensis carolinensis Voigt. The American Naturalist, 85(822): 171 – 176.
Hairston, Nelson G. (1957). Observations on the Behaviour of Draco volans in the Philippines. Copeia, 1957(4): 262- 265.