Gliding Lizards

Flying lizards are truly gliders, but that doesn’t mean they’re unsophisticated. Newly reported observations of the species in the wild show that flying lizards don’t simply hold their forelimbs out a la Superman. Instead, they reach back with their forelimbs, pressing their arms into the underside of the thin patagium that serves as their flight surface while rotating their hands to grasp the upper side of the patagium. This forms a composite wing with a thicker leading edge and seems to be how the lizards control their glide. Close observation of their flight shows that, while holding their patagium, the lizards actively arch their backs to camber their composite wing. This can increase their maximum lift coefficient, allowing them to glide longer distances. (Image and research credit: J. Dehling, source)

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