Draco (genus)

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"Flying dragon" redirects here. For other uses, see Flying dragon (disambiguation).
Draco taeniopterus Gunther, 1861 from Bulon.jpg
Draco taeniopterus in mid-glide, from Bulon Island, Thailand.
Draco spilonotus.JPG
Male Draco spilonotus extending the gular flag (throat flap) and patagia ("wings") in Sulawesi, Indonesia
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Iguania
Family: Agamidae
Subfamily: Draconinae
Genus: Draco
Linnaeus, 1758

Draco is a genus of agamid lizards that are also known as flying dragons or gliding lizards. The ribs and their connecting membrane may be extended to create "wings" (patagia), the hindlimbs are flattened and wing-like in cross-section, and a flap on the neck (the gular flag) serve as a horizontal stabilizers. Draco are arboreal insectivores. While not capable of powered flight they often obtain lift in the course of their gliding flights. Glides as long as 60 m (200 ft) have been recorded, over which the animal loses only 10 m (33 ft) in height, which is quite some distance, considering that one of these lizards is only around 20 cm (7.9 in) in total length (tail included).[1]


The only time a flying lizard ventures to the ground is when a female is ready to lay her eggs. She descends the tree she is on and makes a nest hole by forcing her head into the soil. She then lays 2–5 eggs before filling the hole. She guards the eggs for approximately 24 hours, but then leaves and has nothing more to do with her offspring.[1]


Linnaeus derived the name of this genus from the Latin term for mythological dragons.


Male Draco dussumieri displaying for females by extending his gular flag, from Dandeli, India
Size of Draco quinquefasciatus in comparison to a human hand, from Sarawak, Malaysia

The following 42 species are recognized:[2][3]

Nota bene: A binomial authority in parentheses indicates that the species was originally described in a genus other than Draco.


The lizards are well known for their "display structures" and ability to glide long distances using their wing-like, patagial membranes supported by elongated thoracic ribs to generate lift forces.[5]

In fiction[edit]

Draco dussumieri features prominently in a fictional work or novel named Carvalho (ಕರ್ವಾಲೊ) in Kannada written by Poornachandra Tejaswi. In this story, Carvalho (ಕರ್ವಾಲೊ) , a middle aged scientist searches for this flying lizard in the forests of the Western Ghats in the state of Karnataka India.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Piper, Ross (2007), Extraordinary Animals: An Encyclopedia of Curious and Unusual Animals, Greenwood Press.
  2. ^ The Reptile Database. www.reptile-database.org.
  3. ^ Dahms Tierleben. www.dahmstierleben.de.
  4. ^ Beolens B, Watkins M, Grayson M. (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. (Draco beccarii, p. 21).
  5. ^ Herre, Albert W. (1958). "On the Gliding of Flying Lizards, Genus Draco". Copeia. 1958 (4): 338–339. doi:10.2307/1439979. JSTOR 1439979. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Goin CJ, Goin OB, Zug GR. 1978. Introduction to Herpetology, Third Edition. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman & Company. xi + 378 pp. ISBN 0-7167-0020-4. (Genus Draco, pp. 41, 86, 112, 279, 288).
  • Inger, Robert F. (1983). Morphological and ecological variation in the flying lizards (Genus Draco). Chicago: Field Museum of Natural History. (Fieldiana Zoology, New Series, No. 18).  33 pp.
  • Linnaeus, C. (1758). Systema naturæ per regna tria naturæ, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, diferentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio Decima, Reformata. Stockholm: L. Salvius. 824 pp. (Genus Draco, p. 199).
  • McGuire, J. A.; Dudley, R. (2011). "The Biology of Gliding in Flying Lizards (Genus Draco) and their Fossil and Extant Analogs". Integrative and Comparative Biology. 51 (6): 983–90. doi:10.1093/icb/icr090. PMID 21798987.