Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A dragon with an arc of spines: Mitchell outback Qld

"Come quickly and with your camera," yelled Doug from the front door. So of course I came.

Standing motionless on the grass, close to the road, stood an eastern bearded dragon (Pogona barbata) -- pretending it wasn't there. But it was, and so I took lots of photos of this handsome heavily-built dragon with an arc of spines around its neck.

Finally, however, he took flight and with the speed of lightning. There is no way any human could have moved that fast.

Later on, while identifying the dragon in a book about Australian reptiles, I read the following:

"When approached it freezes, or if threatened it attempts to frighten an opponent by standing up, inflating its body and 'beard' and opening its mouth wide to reveal the bright yellow lining. It may rush an intruder, and will bite if handled carelessly.

"Some 75 different displays have been recorded included head-bobbing, arm-waving, push-ups, head-licking, beard-erection, body inflation, biting and colour changing. Dominant males display frequently, particularly during courtship and in territorial defence."

This dragon lays eggs, whereas stumpy-tailed lizards (like my 40 year old pet, Stego) give birth to live young.

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