Wild Fact #858 – A Thorn in My Side – Thorny Devil

Before we get into today’s Wild Fact, I have a little bit of housekeeping to take care of.  First of all I wanted to thank Larissa over at Reef Botanicals for presenting Wild Facts with the Sunshine Award.  Your support is greatly appreciated, Larissa.  Secondly, I wanted to let all of you know that Wild Facts was featured on Daily Planet which aired last night on the Discovery Channel.  I will post details and link to the show once it is posted online.  Thank you to Margo Losier for recommending Wild Facts to the producers at Daily Planet. I have to admit, I feel very honoured to have Wild Facts featured on such an amazing television program about Science and Technology.  All right, let’s get onto Wild Fact #858!

Today we are going to talk about a little Australian lizard called the Thorny Devil. They may look like the deadliest animal in the world, however, these lizards are only about 15-20 cm (5.9-8″) long. Although they may not be deadly to us, I would hate to be an ant in Australia with these guys kicking around.  The thorny devil is capable of consuming about 3000 ants in one sitting! Imagine the fear that would strike the little ants when they see the deadly, thorny lizard approaching. My guess is you would hear faint cries of “Godzilla!  Godzilla!”.

Besides the incredibly cool appearance of the thorny devil they also have two adaptations that are absolutely mind boggling.  The first has to do with their method of consuming water.  Most people just go to the tap and pour themselves a glass.  Actually, who am I kidding, these days most people just grab a bottle of water out of the fridge.  Well, the thorny devil simply walks through dew-filled grass and shrubs.  You see, this particular lizard is able to drink water no matter where it hits them on their body.  They have these tiny little grooves all over their body that direct the water to their mouth.  Once the water lands on them they will begin gulping which causes the water to move towards their mouth using a capillary action.  Imagine how much water they would be able to drink when they are swimming or in the shower.

The second adaptation is one of our usual defense mechanisms.  When a predator actually wants to try and consume this spikey little lizard they will have a tough time finding its head.  You see the thorny devil hides its real head and exposes a fake, spike-filled head which is located on their back.  As you can imagine the predator will be very surprised if it tries to attack the ball of spikes.  This isn’t one of those  good surprises either.

If you just can’t get enough of the Thorny Devils then I suggest checking out the video below.  It is just a short clip from National Geographic that discusses both adaptations I mentioned in today’s post.

Well, I guess that is all I have to say about the Thorny Devil.  Be sure to check back tomorrow for another interesting Wild Fact or if you would like to receive Wild Facts in your e-mail then just sign up at the top right corner.

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