The Lizards With Lime-Green Blood

The Lizards With Lime-Green Blood

The Lizards With Lime-Green Blood

"The green-blooded skinks of New Guinea are fascinating to me as a parasitologist because a similar liver product, bilirubin, is known to be toxic to human malaria parasites".

"Understanding the underlying physiological changes that have allowed these lizards to remain jaundice-free may translate to non-traditional approaches to specific health problems", Rodriguez concluded.

The green pigment comes from high levels of biliverdin, a "toxic waste product made during the body's normal breakdown of red blood cells", NPR reports. This surprised the researchers, who chose to investigate the matter and disclose the mystery of the green blood.

Lizards known as green-blooded skinks manage to remain healthy despite having levels of bile that are 40 times higher than the lethal concentration in humans.

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These lizards, selengkapnya Skinks (Prasinohaema), possess several unique and unusual features.

"In addition to having the highest concentration of biliverdin recorded for any animal, these lizards have somehow evolved a resistance to bile pigment toxicity", Rodriguez said. A new study, published yesterday in the journal, Science Advances, suggests this adaptation could offer some sort of advantage from an evolutionary standpoint, but the reason as to why still remains unclear. Researchers said on Wednesday a DNA study resolved their family tree, finding that green-bloodedness evolved four different times among lizards called skinks on New Guinea.

The fact that green blood emerged independently on numerous occasions suggests it may be evolutionarily beneficial, according to the researchers.

To understand the evolutionary history of the green-colored blood, Rodriguez and his colleagues did a genetic analysis of 51 species of skink, including six species that have green blood (two of which were previously unknown to science). Slightly elevated levels of bile pigments in other animals, including insects, fish and frogs, have played potentially positive roles in these animals.

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Their research focused on Prasinohaema, a genus of skink (a type of lizard) that is native to New Guinea.

If you thought the acidic, greenish-yellow xenomorph blood from Alien seemed far-fetched, then consider that there are skinks in New Guinea whose green blood is so packed with toxic chemicals that it would be enough to kill a human. One theory is that the green blood protects the skinks against a host of parasites, like the many species of malaria that plague these reptiles. They are also planning to identify the genes responsible for their blood.

This article has been republished from materials provided by Louisiana State University.

Although their lime-green blood should be killing them, this freaky group of New Guinea skinks seem to be doing just fine.

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