Researchers use leaf blower to see how lizards endure storms

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WASHINGTON — Tropical lizards have a stick-to-itiveness in high wind that puts TV weather reporters to shame. Now we know why, thanks in part to a high-powered leaf blower.

Hurricanes Irma and Maria put a group of little lizards to the test, and scientists were perfectly positioned to see which reptiles survived and why. Then, Harvard researchers cranked up the leaf blower to observe just how 47 of the Caribbean critters held onto a pole.

Under tropical storm-force winds, the lizards lounged. But when the winds hit 108 mph (174 kph), it was flying lizard time. The lizards were caught in a net and weren’t harmed.

The study in Wednesday’s journal Nature found that hurricane survivors had bigger toe pads on their feet, significantly longer front limbs and smaller back limbs.

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