Investigating petrography and reptiles couplings (iPERC)
Investigating petrography and reptiles couplings (iPERC). In the field of geosciences nothing like that has ever been proposed. With good reason probably. But we at iTECC really like multidisciplinary approaches, even at the extremes. This is one example of that: zoogeology. The symbiosis between an animal and the distinctive properties of a certain type of rock. As an example, the marvelous iguana in the Galapagos profits from basaltic rocks that make up the shoreline. After their predatory incursions in the cold ocean, they find a welcome heat source in these highly thermal rocks. A calcareous rock would not work that well. In this case, however, we will analyze the unique case presented by the marvelous, agile toad-headed Agama or, for the latin lovers, Phrynocefalus. This lizard inhabits regions of Indian that are in arid and semi arid environments, such as the desert of Rajasthan but also the high arid regions beyond the Himalayas as well. His tactic to live in this difficult environment, is to sit and wait for small creatures such as ants and other small insects. Waiting in the open represents a major risk, making it easy to be caught by the relatively abundant flying predators. Therefore, these creatures mimic the environment on the ground around them. And it is astonishing, representing with HD resolution the substrate around them.
I had the opportunity to take an amazing picture of this little creature, during a sampling campaign in the Indian Kashmir (Ladakh region). The main geological feature in this area is the Ladakh batholith, a large, elongated belt of intrusive rocks, such as granites, granitoids and diorite. The distinctive key to recognizing a granite, is the presence of quartz feldspar and micas. When I zoomed in on the picture to see if it was in focus, I recognized the same pattern printed on its skin. Living for millions of years in this slow eroding landscape has given this little creature the pattern of a granite dotted with quartz feldspar and micas like grains.
This example is a good occasion to remind us how important the relationship is between living creatures and the solid earth. And furthermore, to show us how the biosphere and geosphere should not be seen as isolated worlds but parts of a whole, complex, larger system.