Lizards sunbathe for a vitamin D boost

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Washington, Aug 22 (ANI): Keeping warm isn't the only reason lizards bask in the sun. A new study has found that chameleons sunbathe for vitamin D.

Kristopher B. Karsten and his graduate adviser at the time, Gary W. Ferguson of Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, along with two colleagues, studied panther chameleons, Furcifer pardalis.

For two months, the team fed six chameleons crickets that were either enriched or low in vitamin D3, reports Live Science

The team then set the chameleons in separate outdoor enclosures that had similar amounts of sun and shade for five days, and tracked where they spent their time.

The researchers found that the three vitamin-deprived chameleons spent more time in the sun than did their three vitamin-fortified counterparts.

That behavior led to a mathematically optimum exposure to UVB, particularly in the vitamin-deprived bunch, the researchers calculated.

The chameleons are thus pros at balancing diet and sunshine.

The researchers suspect that a special brain receptor lets the reptiles determine when they're low on D3 and how much sunning will make up for it.

The study has bee published in the issue of Physiological and Biochemical Zoology. (ANI)

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