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Lizard breathes underwater using bubble stuck to its nose
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Lizard breathes underwater using bubble stuck to its nose

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If you like to swim, you may have wondered what it would be like to be able to breathe underwater.

Snorkels, those face masks with tubes that stick out above the water, is one way humans have been able to experience breathing while staying submerged.

Scuba diving is a more technical way to do the same thing, using tanks of air the swimmer carries on their back to breathe. Scuba tanks allow swimmer to go deeper under the water and stay down longer. But using the gear requires special training.

One type of lizard, the anole, has figured out a different way to breathe underwater. These small reptiles live in the tropical regions of North and South America and can breathe through a bubble that sticks to their nose. Some water beetles also use bubbles to breathe while swimming.

Scientists think they developed this ability to escape from predators. By jumping into the water and breathing through a bubble, they could hide until the threat was gone. The lizards have been timed staying underwater as long as 18 minutes.

An anole’s skin is hydrophobic, meaning it repels water. Scientists think this may help keep the bubble clinging to the lizard’s skin.

There are more than 250 species of anoles, which are related to iguanas. They have big finger and toe pads covered with small hooks that, along with sharp claws, help them climb and cling, even to smooth surfaces.

Anoles range in size from 5 to 18 inches long.

— Brett French, french@billingsgazette.com

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