The green basilisk lizard is also known as the plumed or double-crested basilisk. Males can be distinguished by the showy crests on their heads and backs, which are used to impress females.
Adult males have four crests: a tiny one just behind the eyes, a larger one at the back of the head, a dorsal crest and a crest running the length of its tail. Females and juveniles have reduced crests, only at the head and tail. Part of the iguana family, green basilisks grow to be anywhere from 60-90cm, their long, whip-like tail inclusive. This lizard's hind limbs, which are much longer than its front ones, are built for sprinting.
‘Walking’ on water
If frightened while on land, these lizards dash away on their hind legs at speeds of over 11 km/hr. That speed, along with their specialised feet structure, allows them to run across a fair distance of water without breaking the surface tension.
The long, flat toes on their rear feet have fringes of scaly skin on the bottom, which unfurl when the lizards splay their toes in the water,increasing surface area. As they continue to slap their feet hard against the water, a tiny pocket of air is created. This keeps them from sinking, provided their speed is maintained. They can move along the water surface in this way for 4.5m or more.
When the lizards tire, their pace slackens and gravity subsequently takes over. Dropping on all fours, the lizards become partially submerged and swim in continuation of their flight. They have strong swimming skills and can remain underwater for 10-30 minutes.
If threatened while they’re up in a tree overhanging water, they can drop right into the water and sprint, upright, at more than a metre per second across the surface.