Don’t blame your eyes or think it’s a trick of the light. These mammals, insects, reptiles, and birds can actually walk on water.
The basilisk lizard of the family Corytophanidae has got those everyday lizards beat. “The basilisk lizard is one of a few animals that can actually walk on water. Well, it’s not so much walking as it is running. This eye-opening behavior is usually done to escape a predator,” explains Oonagh Nelson, an ecological consultant with Contract Ecology. Basilisk lizards have been known to run as far as five feet per second on the water’s surface. “This amazing feat can be accomplished thanks to their long toes, which are connected with skin. This allows them to hit the water feet first, with so much force they create a pocket of air while running. They can also swim in case they fall through.” Also known as the Jesus lizard, basilisks also use their amazing ability to catch food, such as this unsuspecting butterfly. Not every lizard can walk on water, but some make great pets—provided you can give teeny, tiny abdominal massages when needed. Don’t miss these 17 adorable pictures of wild baby animals that will immediately brighten your day.
Pygmy geckos may be best known for eyes that never have to blink, but walking on water is another super-talent these small-sized lizards have. Pygmy geckos are members of the Gekkonidae family that live deep in the tropical rain forests of South America. These nocturnal carnivores skim the water’s surface by employing the same scientific principal basilisk lizards do—they run so quickly that air pockets form under their feet to keep them afloat. There are many species of geckos, but unfortunately, some are critically endangered.
Western grebes are highly social birds who nest in colonies and migrate in large groups. Graceful and long-necked, baby grebes nestle onto their momma’s back within seconds of birth and are fed by both parents. It’s no wonder these sociable birds have a distinctive mating ritual, which includes a water-top dance. According to Audubon’s Guide to North American Birds, western grebes brilliantly dance across the water on their feet, side by side, as part of a courtship ritual known as rushing. These gregarious birds are one of the largest species currently known to have the ability to walk on water. They accomplish this feat by striding up to 20 steps a second while slapping the water with lobed, impressively wide, flat feet that are designed to reduce drag. Check out these 15 stunning photos of birds that capture their winged beauty.