Originally published October 15, 2009 at 3:13 p.m., updated July 25, 2013 at 10:53 a.m.
Wild Lizard Chase
In this slide show, producer Gisela Kaufmann illustrates the challenges of filming monitors, the planet's wiliest lizards.
Though they may look like dragons and inspire stories of man-eating, fire-spitting monsters with long claws, razor-sharp teeth and muscular, whip-like tails, these creatures are actually monitor lizards, the largest lizards to walk the planet.
With their acute intelligence — including the ability to plan — these lizards are a very different kind of reptile, blurring the line between reptiles and mammals. And even though these bizarre reptiles haven’t changed all that much since the dinosaurs, they are a successful species, versatile at adapting to all kinds of settings.
“Lizard Kings” looks at what makes these tongued reptiles so similar to mammals and what has allowed them to become such unique survivors. But while the creatures can find their way around many different habitats, finding them is no easy task. Natural loners, and always on guard, they sense anything or anyone from hundreds of feet away.
This program follows expert lizard hunter Dr. Eric Pianka as he tracks the elusive creatures through Australia’s heartland with cutting-edge “lizard cam” technology for an unparalleled close encounter with these versatile “living dragons.”
This episode originally aired in 2009.