He's... he's coming this way. Run!
|Image: Bernard DUPONT|
Five-banded Flying Lizard (Draco quinquefasciatus)
He looks different close up.
|Image: Bernard DUPONT|
Regardless, Draco is Latin for dragon and Flying Dragons are the cutest, little dragons ever. So there.
|Image: Carmelo López Abad|
They have fantastic camouflage which lets them easily disappear among the tree trunks and branches. Flying, or gliding, isn't quite so good for camouflage but it's great for when they want to check if the rumours are true and the grass really is greener on the other side. Or the leaves greener on the other tree. Or the termites plumper.
Flying Dragons are amazingly accomplished gliders. One of the best, in fact. They think nothing of jumping nose-down from a tree and gliding a good 10 metres (30 feet) to the next one.
As you might imagine, they have all sorts of adaptations to achieve gliding prowess, the most obvious of which are their wings. Now, there are quite a few different kinds of wing out there. The bat's mega-hand. The pterosaur's mega-finger. The bird's mangle-arm. Not to mention the insect's elegant solution of simply growing a pair of wings and keeping all their limbs intact.
|Image: Siler, Cameron|
Philippine Flying Dragon (Draco spilopterus)
It's novel, but at the same time rather old-fashioned...
|Image: President and Fellows of Harvard College|
Big long ribs!
Rib wings! Jeez. Insects must be facepalming so hard. They're like, "what's up with you people? Just GROW WINGS, innit?"
|Image: Patrick Randall|
A Flying Dragon in flight- GLIDE - is quite a sight. Like a flamboyant Batman trying out a more colourful costume to see if it'll raise his mood a little. While Flying Dragons are mostly bark-coloured or leafy green for camouflage, the underside of their wings is usually bright and eye-catching. The reason for this is to... catch the eye, gain attention, but only from other Flying Dragons.
Lots of those nimble, sprightly lizards you see leaping about the tree branches have what's called a dewlap. It's a flap of skin on the underside of the neck which the lizard can extend or retract at will. It's usually brightly coloured for communicating to others with a flash of red or bright yellow.
Flying Dragons have a dewlap. And then, just to reinforce the message, they have those brightly coloured wing undersides which can be unfurled to really scream "oi, I'm here. Me. Here. You see?"
Sulawesi Lined Gliding Lizard (Draco spilonotus)
They save their most vigorous displays for the ladies, of course. There'll be a few females milling around in his territory and he woos them by spreading his wings and dewlap to the utmost, bobbing up and down and perhaps walking around her in circles.
Common Gliding Lizard (Draco sumatranus)
With that done, the female has a mission on her hands. She has eggs to lay but she doesn't build a nest or even retire to a tree hollow. Nope. She crawls down a tree and descends to the dark underworld of the forest floor. There she uses her snout to dig a hole in the soil for her eggs. Some Flying Dragons will hang around guarding the nest for a day before leaving to let the eggs fend for themselves.
They hatch in a few weeks and tiny dragons emerge into the forest and gaze up at the trees that tower over them and will soon become their home. It's a long climb for a tiny dragon. If only they could actually fly with majestic flaps!