Draco taeniopterus in mid-glide, from Bulon Island, Thailand.
Draco (genus) :
"Flying dragon" redirects here. For other uses, see Flying dragon (disambiguation).
Draco is a genus of agamid lizards that are also known as flying dragons or gliding lizards. The ribs and their connecting membrane may be extended to create "wings" (patagia), the hindlimbs are flattened and wing-like in cross-section, and a flap on the neck (the gular flag) serve as a horizontal stabilizers. Draco are arboreal insectivores. While not capable of powered flight they often obtain lift in the course of their gliding flights. Glides as long as 60 m (200 ft) have been recorded, over which the animal loses only 10 m (33 ft) in height, which is quite some distance, considering that one of these lizards is only around 20 cm (7.9 in) in total length (tail included).
Fooled by Nature - Draco Lizard
Gliding Lizards (Agamidae, Genus : Draco) :
courtesy to : www.ecologyasia.com/verts/lizards.htm
Also known as 'Flying Dragons', these lizards possess a gliding structure, or patagium, attached to specialised ribs which can be extended away from the body. They cling to tree trunks, where they feed on ants, and may be glimpsed gliding many metres to another tree. They also have a brightly coloured dewlap, or gular flag, beneath the neck which is extended for display purposes. There are more than 40 species, the majority occurring in Southeast Asia.
The only time a flying lizard ventures to the ground is when a female is ready to lay her eggs. She descends the tree she is on and makes a nest hole by forcing her head into the soil. She then lays 2–5 eggs before filling the hole. She guards the eggs for approximately 24 hours, but then leaves and has nothing more to do with her offspring.
Linnaeus derived the name of this genus from the Latin term for mythological dragons.
Scientific classification :
Male Draco spilonotus extending the gular flag (throat flap) and patagia("wings") in Sulawesi, Indonesia
Male Draco dussumieri displaying for females by extending his gular flag, from Dandeli, India
The following 42 species are recognized:
Draco abbreviatus Hardwicke & Gray, 1827
Draco affinis Bartlett, 1895
Draco beccarii W. Peters & Doria, 1878
Draco biaro Lazell, 1987
Draco bimaculatus Günther, 1864
Draco blanfordii Boulenger, 1885
Draco boschmai Hennig, 1936
Draco bourouniensis Lesson, 1834
Draco caerulhians Lazell, 1992
Draco cornutus Günther, 1864
Draco cristatellus Günther, 1872
Draco cyanopterus W. Peters, 1867
Draco dussumieri A.M.C. Duméril & Bibron, 1837
Draco fimbriatus Kuhl, 1820
Draco formosus Boulenger, 1900
Draco guentheri Boulenger, 1885
Draco haematopogon Gray, 1831
Draco indochinensis M.A. Smith, 1928
Draco iskandari McGuire et al., 2007
Draco jareckii Lazell, 1992
Draco lineatus Daudin, 1802
Draco maculatus (Gray, 1845)
Draco maximus Boulenger, 1893
Draco melanopogon Boulenger, 1887
Draco mindanensis Stejneger, 1908
Draco modiglianii Vinciguerra, 1892
Draco norvillii Alcock, 1895
Draco obscurus Boulenger, 1887
Draco ornatus (Gray, 1845)
Draco palawanensis McGuire & Alcala, 2000
Draco quadrasi Boettger, 1893
Draco quinquefasciatus Hardwicke & Gray, 1827
Draco reticulatus Günther, 1864
Draco rhytisma Musters, 1983
Draco spilonotus Günther, 1872
Draco spilopterus Wiegmann, 1834
Draco sumatranus Schlegel, 1844
Draco supriatnai McGuire et al., 2007
Draco taeniopterus Günther, 1861
Draco timoriensis Kuhl, 1820
Draco volans Linnaeus, 1758
Draco walkeri Boulenger, 1891
Nota bene: A binomial authority in parentheses indicates that the species was originally described in a genus other than Draco.
The lizards are well known for their "display structures" and ability to glide long distances using their wing-like, patagial membranes supported by elongated thoracic ribs to generate lift forces.
In fiction :
Draco dussumieri features prominently in a fictional work or novel named Carvalho (ಕರ್ವಾಲೊ) in Kannada written by Poornachandra Tejaswi. In this story, Carvalho (ಕರ್ವಾಲೊ) , a middle aged scientist searches for this flying lizard in the forests of the Western Ghats in the state of Karnataka India.
Size of Draco quinquefasciatus in comparison to a human hand, from Sarawak, Malaysia
Highly camouflagedDraco indochinensis from Bandipur National Park, India
For the external links , refrences click here to read the full wikipedia article
Nothing in the world flies like these Draco lizards
BY DAVID MOSCATO DECEMBER 06 2016
Draco dussumieri gliding. Image: Maximilian Dehling
In the jungles of Southeast Asia, it's not just the birds, bats and bugs that fly – some of the lizards take to the skies, too! They're called Draco lizards, and they have wide skin membranes supported by special elongated ribs on either side of the body, allowing them to glide through the air. For years, scientists thought these membranes simply opened by themselves, but an incredible new study has found that the lizards actually reach back with their arms and manually spread their "wings".
In March of 2015, Maximilian Dehling of Germany's University of Koblenz took a trip to the small Indian village of Agumbe, where he observed and photographed the lizards in flight.
His photos revealed that shortly after the animals leapt from trees, rib muscles began to unfurl their gliding membranes (called patagia) – but they didn't open them all the way. Remarkably, the lizards would then reach back with their arms (in mid-air!), grab the membranes and spread them all the way forward. When they neared their landing site, the lizards would let go and brace for impact.
Examining museum specimens up close, Dehling found that Draco lizards can perform this action because they are able to bend their wrists much more flexibly than even closely related species. This allows them to grasp firmly onto the patagia and complete their two-part "wings".
This, Dehling says, may allow the animals to use their forearms for aerial manoeuvring. "[These lizards] can show abrupt changes of direction in mid-air. There are even reports of specimens doing a barrel roll," he told me via email.
Precisely how the lizards guide their flight is still unclear. "The movements of the forelimbs certainly contribute a great part to the manoeuvrability, but other body parts likely contribute as well, including the hind limbs, the head, the tail and especially the [central body], which can be arched and straightened and also bent sideways."
How exactly the lizards use their arms in flight might be the biggest question, and Dehling's interpretations are sure to drum up discussion. The study must still go through peer review before official publication, so other experts will soon have the chance to weigh in and offer additional insights.
Image: Maximilian Dehling
Draco lizards aren't the only gliders out there. Gliding geckos, for example, have their own patagia that work like parachutes, expanding passively when wind billows up under them. And in gliding mammals like flying squirrels, the membranes are attached to the limbs like a wingsuit.
But no other animal does it like Draco. If they are indeed using their arms for steering, this would make them the only aerial animals that catch the air with one body part and steer with another.
To investigate lizard aerodynamics a bit more, I spoke with Colin Palmer of the University of Bristol, who makes use of his background in naval architecture to study the evolution of flight (Palmer was not involved in this Draco study). He revealed that a wing with an arm at the front is actually less aerodynamically efficient than just a flat membrane. "But there are all sorts of benefits to having a limb at the leading edge of the wing," he explained, including not just the ability to steer, but also the benefit of added strength and support. "It's all a trade-off."
Keeping their arms and patagia separate is also beneficial when it comes time for running and climbing. These lizards get the best of both worlds: they have wonderfully adapted forearms for clambering up trees, unencumbered by any flappy membranes, but when it comes time for flying, their arm becomes the front of a glide-worthy wing.
The diversity of gliding creatures extends deep into the past, so this new research may also have palaeontologists reconsidering how they view gliders in the fossil record. Ancient reptiles like Icarosaurus had expanded ribs like Draco, while the unusual Coelurosauravus had its own unique wing bones. And then there's the delightfully bizarre Sharovipteryx, whose main gliding membranes were not on its arms but on its hind legs!
Two ancient gliding reptiles, Kuehneosaurus (left) and Kuehneosuchus (right), shown holding their hands free, like we used to think Draco did. Image: Nobu Tamura via Wikimedia Commons
In 2008, Palmer and his colleagues examined the aerodynamics of two of these prehistoric gliders, named Kuehneosaurus and Kuehneosuchus. The team's interpretations, he says, may have been slightly different had they known these latest findings. "It suggests they were maybe more aerially capable that we would have thought," he told me. "Our models had the limbs held forward [away from the patagia] because that's what we thought modern lizards do."
More work remains to be done for us to fully understand just how Draco lizards soar. According to Dehling, further research will be needed to explore how these lizards perform aerial manoeuvres, and how different body parts contribute to their mid-air acrobatics. This work, he said, will require experimental approaches. I, for one, hope those experiments come with more photos!
Top header image: Patrick Randall, Flickr
DAVID MOSCATO IS A SCIENCE COMMUNICATOR, WRITER AND EDUCATOR WITH A BACKGROUND IN PALAEONTOLOGY. FOLLOW HIM @DMOS150 OR ON HIS BLOG, THE MENISCUS. VIEW MORE FROM THIS CONTRIBUTOR
Other Websites :
- Biology of gliding lizards : academic.oup.com/icb/article/51/6/983/616030/The-Biology-of-Gliding-in-Flying-Lizards-Genus
Flying lizards (draco) Facts :
Draco, also known as flying lizard or flying dragon, is a reptile that belongs to the family Agamidae. There are 31 species of flying lizards that can be found in South and Southeast Asia (Philippines, Borneo, India, Malaysia, Indonesia…). Flying lizards live in tropical rainforests. Habitat destruction negatively affects number of flying lizards in the wild. Luckily, population of flying lizards is stable and they are not on the list of endangered species.
Interesting Flying lizards (draco) Facts:
- Flying lizards are not very large animals. They can reach up to 8.1 inches of length including the tail.
- Flying lizards are often very colorful. They can be red, blue, brown or orange in color. Body is often covered with different patterns. Colors and patterns of their bodies match with the environment and provide camouflage.
- Lower side of the wings is differently colored in males and females. It is blue in males and yellow in females. Scientists use this fact to easily identify gender of the lizard.
Flying lizards have a flap of skin, called dewlap, below their necks. It is used as a stabilizer during the "flight". Dewlap is differently colored in males and females: brightly yellow in males and grayish blue in females.
- Ribs of flying lizards are elongated and able to extend and retract. They are covered with folded skin. Extended ribs combined with unfolded skin create wings that are used for gliding through the air.
- Flying lizards have slender tail which is used for steering when the animal is gliding through the air. Flying lizards are also able to flatten their hind legs to ensure smoother flight.
- Flying lizards cannot fly like birds. Instead, they glide from tree to tree using the air pockets (wind currents).
- Flying lizards can glide up to 190 feet in the air, but they more often "fly" distances of 30 feet.
- Flying lizards are insectivorous animals (insect-eaters). They feed on ants and termites.
Flying lizards have adapted to the life on the trees. They can find food and avoid potentially dangerous predators when they are high above the ground. Males stay on the trees their entire life.
- Flying lizards are very territorial. Male occupies several trees and fiercely defend his territory against other males. On the other hand, he readily shares his territory with few females.
- After successful mating female leaves the safety of the tree to lay her eggs on the ground.
- Female digs a hole in the ground to lay between 1 and 5 eggs. She will stay and protect her eggs 24 hour. After that period, eggs will be covered with dirt and left on their own.
- People in Philippines do not hunt flying lizards because they believe these animals are poisonous. This is a false belief.
- At the moment, lifespan of flying dragons is unknown.
Flying lizards - dragons in the jungles of Asia
courtesy to : www.iefimerida.gr/news/
Flying lizards -drakoi in the jungles of Asia
For small Drakosafra, but to "fly" through the trees, in the jungles of Southeast Asia, is a basic method to escape danger, to attract the opposite sex and to hunt its food.
To run in the forest where lurk a bunch of predators, can be fatal So, for thousands of years, Drakosafra has pulled the ground out of the question adapting its ability to fly.
These "flying dragons" have a series of elongate projections, which are stretched and gathered. Among these projections are skin folds that fall flat on the body when not in use, but are normally wings when unfurled, allowing the Drakosafra to "catch" the wind and fly and uses the long thin tail for steering. Each throws the can to carry up to 9 meters away.
In size the Drakosafra reaches about 20 cm in length, including the tail. They flattened body, which also can aid in the flight and are mostly brown with signs. The lower wings are blue in males and yellow in females. They also have a skin flap on the bottom of the neck called jowl. This bright yellow males and bluish gray in females.
Although Drakosafres usually avoid going to the ground, females still need to come down to lay their eggs. The lizard uses the sharpened tip to form a small hole in the ground, generates about five eggs and then cover the hole with soil. She remains on the ground for about 24 hours, watching the nest, and then returns the trees and lay eggs on their luck.
The flying Drakosafres survive on a diet consisting almost entirely of ants and termites. They live in forested areas in the Philippines and in eastern Borneo, throughout Southeast Asia and Southern India. Contrary to what is believed, Asia is not considered at all rare animal and not threatened with extinction.
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Gliding Lizards - Introduction