Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 91.djvu/821

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Popular Science Monthly


��A Lizard That Squirts Jets of Blood from Its Eyes

WE have about fourteen species of horned lizards in this country,* and most people still call them "horned toads." Some of their habits are extremely remark- able, but none more so than their ability to send at will a fine jet of blood from either eye. This fact is very rarely touch- ed upon in litera- ture, and the aver- age reader of the life histories of our animals has never heard of this re- markable habit. Personally, I first noticed it in a small species of horned lizard that I cap- tured many years ago in New Mexico ; but I have never been able to satisfy myself as to whether the jet of blood was from a vein or from an artery.

Probably the hab- it has been most fre- quently noted in the Texas Horned Liz- ard (called by zoolo- gists Phrynosoma cornutum). That species has the widest range of distribution and is found most frequently in captivity. Recently I have had specimens of it alive and have photo- graphed them; a reproduction of one of these photographs is shown here. Blood- squirting is generally indulged in when the lizard is laboring under certain states of excitement. The attack comes on suddenly, at a time when you have the lizard in your grasp. It will suddenly stiffen its neck and throw the head upward, as the eyes bulge from their sockets. In another second you can plainly hear a peculiar hissing sound, followed immediately by the finest imagin- able jet of pure blood from one or the other of its eyes. With such force is this squirted that the tiny stream, lasting a couple of seconds, may" be thrown to a distance of fully five feet. As the blood strikes, it

���The Texas horned lizard, which shoots — not daggers — but streams of blood from its eyes

��lands in an array of numerous little spots about the size of a No. 8 shot. Often there are over one hundred of these spots, which fact will give some idea of the amount of blood ejected at one time. Following this most ex- traordinary operation, the liz- ard tightly shuts its eyes, re- sisting all attempts to open them; though, in a very few minutes the eyes, as well as their lids, appear to be perfectly normal again, with a com- plete subsidence of the swelling.

The cause for the blood-squirting is purely conjectural. It is possible that the animal becomes frightened and uses this method of pro- tecting itself from any further hand- ling.

The loss of blood seems to have no special physical ef- fect upon the lizard, or else it recuper- ates with exceptional rapidity from any resultant weakness. — R. W. Shufeldt.

��A Little Bit of the Tropics in Our Own United States

ONLY at one place in the United States is there real tropical vegetation. Florida and California have what is called "sub- tropical" vegetation. In the midst of a desert in the extreme southern part of California is a true oasis. The oasis, Palm Springs, lies two hundred and fifty feet below the sea level. So hot is it there that there is a riot of vegetation all the year round. Enormous fig trees and mammoth grape fruit and 'oranges are always to be had. The lemons that grow there weigh two and a half pounds apiece. The respon- sibility for all this may be laid to a beautiful little stream which is fed by the Colorado River and which flows through the oasis only to disappear into the ground at its end.

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