avatar torukEver see the movie Avatar, with those giant flying creatures called the “toruk“?  Here’s the real-life version:  Draco Volans.

This incredible image of a “real life dragon” was taken by Reddit user Biophilia_curiosus:dragon, photo credit: biophilia curiosus

Biophilia_curiosus wrote:

“The crazy part is that those lines you see running through the wings like veins are actually its ribs! Evolution did a number on these guys.

They can expand and contract their chests at will to glide great distances. We were only able to catch females as they were laying their eggs. All we could do is watch as the males soared overhead.”

Photo Credit:  Reddit user Biophilia_curiosus

These “dragons” are an average length of just under a foot, and the females are larger than the males. They don’t have true wings, but instead glide from tree to tree by extending their ribs outwards. When the ribs are stretched out, the skin between each rib forms a large flat surface on each side that the lizards use to slow and control their gliding descent. Using their “wings” the flying dragons can glide over distances of over 25 feet.

Both males and females have a gular flap below their chins which can be extended and may serve as a type of rudder in controlling their flight. Fully grown flying Draco volans measure just under a foot in length with a “wingspan” that could be anywhere up to ten inches.

Draco volans eat insects that they find on the trees in which they live. Their diet typically consists of ants and termites which they catch on their tongues. Males will claim a “territory” of two or three trees, patrolling and protecting the area as they glide from tree to tree.

It seems that, if you look hard enough, you can find many of history’s mythical creatures right here on Earth.