Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Sleepy lizards and live birth

This photo thanks to Craig's blog: http://craigallen.net.au/blog/item/sleepy_lizard
 
As I veer into another consecutive day of marking academic essays, I have been thinking about what it means to stick to one task for a long time, longer than I need to.  Commitment.  Well, of sorts.  And I'm struck by last night's quality viewing.  We are halfway through watching Life in Cold Blood, the wonderful David Attenborough series from 2008.  As a lover of animals of almost every variety, I sat down fully prepared to be engaged and interested in the lives of lizards and amphibians and I was grateful for the fact that we'd finished Life in the Undergrowth as I was a bit squeamish about some of the nefarious ant-tactics and wasp relationships of insects.  Big sigh, on to animals with backbones...and I do love lizards.

But I was not at all prepared to be awestruck by these scaly creatures...most of all the sleepy lizard of Australia. I knew absolutely nothing about this creature until yesterday, least of all that it is one of the few cold-blooded creatures to give birth to live offspring instead of laying eggs.  (The episode we watched included a chameleon giving birth to live tiny ones high up in a tree too).

When it comes to commitment the sleepy lizards win all prizes.  Not only are they romantic creatures, they pair for life and stick together through lots of harsh reality.  A scene I found really distressing was one of a long term pair mourning the loss of its recently dead partner.  As these lizards love to lie in the road and sun themselves, death is a reality all too often.  The mourning lizard stayed by his dead partner for days, in the road, head butting it and checking it over.  Now this, I thought, is true commitment. Commitment of a type far beyond my commitment to sticking with marking difficult essays for another day when I could easily set it aside for now and come back to it next week.

I'm moved by the sleepy lizard as well as some of the deeply intriguing behaviours of others in the lizard suborder. And most of all I'm glad that yesterday contained surprise and awe, if even at a nature documentary.  Can't wait to see what Attenborough has in store for the next episode.

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