Friday, February 7, 2014

Flying Dragon @ Ulu Geroh, Gopeng, Malaysia.

Flying Dragon @ Ulu Geroh, Gopeng, Perak, Malaysia

Several species of "flying dragons" may be observed in the forest around Ulu Geroh but these yellow ones were by far the most common. The "dragons" are part of a diverse group of lizards in the genus Draco that are endemic to Southeast Asia. While they are generally relatively unremarkable in appearance, these reptiles possess a most unique ability to extend folds of skin stretched out between its modified ribs to create a set of wings that enable them to glide from tree to tree. While not exactly capable of sustained flight, some species of "flying dragons" have been observed to be able to obtain lift in the course of their glides and a total gliding distance of up to 60 meters has been recorded, although the average is commonly about 8 meters or so.  Unlike the rest of their bodies - which are commonly drably colored to aid in camouflage - the wings of the dragons are usually brightly colored and patterned. Both male and female dragons also possess a colorful fold of skin under their chins called a dewlap that they can extend at will for display purposes.  Despite their small size, the dragons are highly territorial and males will defend their respective trees from the intrusion of outsiders. In Ulu Geroh, dragons can sometimes be seen dropping from the tops of trees, gliding in a circle, before landing at the base of the tree and slowly making their way back to the top on foot. They are insectivorous and feed on a variety of insects though from my observations it would seem that they are particularly partial to a variety of ants.

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