Water in the Desert: Thorny Devil Edition

While we’re busy building pipelines to northern Nevada and figuring out how to desalinate brackish groundwater, a desert lizard called the “thorny devil” has opted for a simpler approach, according to a news piece in Science by Greg Miller:

They discovered that the hinges contain tubelike channels about the width of one or two human hairs, a good size for harnessing capillary forces to draw in water. In thorny devils, the network of hinges covers the entire body and appears to funnel water to an area near the corner of the lizards’ mouth, the researchers report in this month’s issue of Zoomorphology. They found a similar plumbing system in another rain-harvesting lizard, the Texas horned lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum), but not in seven related lizard species that don’t transport water.