Thursday, March 29, 2012

Leapin' lizards

A gecko got into our house just before we left the Bahamas. It made itself elusive, so I was not able to chase it out. But never mind. We don't mind living in the company of geckoes. They are cute and friendly. They keep to themselves. And they help keep the house free of ants, mosquitoes, termites and spiders. I like to imagine that right now our green-tailed lizard is scooting about the closed-up house hovering up vermin.

The gecko was about 6 inches long.

Which brings me to two stories in recent issues of Nature.

The smallest known lizard, dubbed Brookesia micra (Nature, 23 March), has been discovered in the forests of northern Madagascar. You can judge its size from the photo here of the lizard perched on a match stick.


Then this. Fossil fleas from China (Nature, 8 March). Giant fleas! Fleas the size of the Madagascar lizards. Fleas bigger than your fingernail.

It's putting the two stories together that I find delightful. A giant flea on the back of a diminutive lizard. A flea and a lizard locked in mortal embrace.
So naturalists observe, a flea
Hath smaller lizards that on him prey,
And they have greater fleas that bite 'em,
Tit for tat, ad infinitum.