Thursday, 22 April 2010
One advantage of taking one of those child things with you is that they spot the stuff you miss. Their eyes are a) better b) closer to the ground and c) not troubled by the vagaries of varifocals. So it was that I walked straight past the lizard on the delapidated dry stone wall until my daughter's excited shout from behind pulled me up sharp.
The lizard shot into the undergrowth so we stood and stared until it came out again. It was only afterwards when we looked at the photographs that we realised that it was actually in the process of sloughing off its skin. Reading up a bit on this, that the protective scales you see on a lizards body are actually underneath a top layer of transparent skin. Common lizards regularly slough off (or should that be sluff ough?) this outer skin. It enables growth but full size adults also do it - apparently it assists in repair and parasite removal. Good job humans can't do it or the anti-wrinkle cream industry would collapse.
This piece shows the larger-sized underbelly scales with smaller ones from the lizard's sides. The picture below is taken down a 10x binocular microscope and shows the delicate structure.