Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mysteries Of The Stumpy Lizard Revealed

Date:
September 5, 2001
Source:
Adelaide University
Summary:
Can you imagine giving birth to a child the size of a six-year-old? Or not being able to eat or breathe properly for the last third of pregnancy? Welcome to the unique world of the Australian stumpy-tailed lizard!

Can you imagine giving birth to a child the size of a six-year-old? Or not being able to eat or breathe properly for the last third of pregnancy?

Welcome to the unique world of the Australian stumpy-tailed lizard!

The stumpy is one of Australia's most distinctive and abundant lizards, and is common throughout the Australian mainland. It has an average length of 41cm and a diet of insects, snails, carrion, flowers and fruit.

New research at Adelaide University shows the female of the species endures quite an ordeal during pregnancy - so much so that its own life may be in jeopardy as it approaches full term. For the last four weeks of pregnancy they eat almost nothing, are unable to breathe properly and move very little, which means they find it hard to exercise, forage for food or escape predators.

Department of Environmental Biology researcher Dr Suzy Munns, who has been studying stumpies and other reptiles for the past five years, says the sheer size of baby stumpies by the time of birth is the main reason for the mother stumpy's problems.

"The first thing to realise is not all reptiles lay eggs, and that many lizards, including the stumpy, give birth to live young," she says. "Baby stumpies are very large, relatively-speaking - they are approximately 35% of the mother's body weight, which is very high in the animal world.

"Or in other words, if a human female was to give birth to a baby that was 35% of her body weight, it would mean giving birth to a child the size of an average six-year-old!"

This situation is not helped by the fact the mother stumpy's body - unlike humans and other animals - doesn't expand in size during pregnancy as her baby gets bigger. The average gestation period for a stumpy is between five and six months, and they give birth to one to four young.

This means the young are occupying an increasingly large portion of the mother's body cavity, which decreases the space available for the lungs and digestive tract. Dr Munns' research investigated the breathing of pregnant stumpies to see how their breathing changed due to their lungs becoming increasingly squashed.

"What I found was that their ability to breathe properly became less the further they went into the pregnancy, and in the last six to eight weeks before birth both breathing frequency and the volume of breath are reduced quite significantly."

Dr Munns also found the metabolic rate of pregnant stumpies decreases quite markedly in the last three months of pregnancy, and in particular the last four weeks, where they hardly consume anything.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Adelaide University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Adelaide University. "Mysteries Of The Stumpy Lizard Revealed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 September 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/09/010905072742.htm>.
Adelaide University. (2001, September 5). Mysteries Of The Stumpy Lizard Revealed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/09/010905072742.htm
Adelaide University. "Mysteries Of The Stumpy Lizard Revealed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/09/010905072742.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Vaccine Might Be Coming, But Where's It Been?

Ebola Vaccine Might Be Coming, But Where's It Been?

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) Health officials are working to fast-track a vaccine — the West-African Ebola outbreak has killed more than 700. But why didn't we already have one? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Links Certain Birth Control Pills To Breast Cancer

Study Links Certain Birth Control Pills To Breast Cancer

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) Previous studies have made the link between birth control and breast cancer, but the latest makes the link to high-estrogen oral contraceptives. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins