Horned toad clipart

While previous thought held that compounds were added to the blood from glands in the ocular sinus cavity, current research has shown that the chemical compounds that make up the defense are already in the circulating blood. It is possible that their diet of large quantities of venomous harvester ants could be a factor; however, the origin and structure of the chemicals responsible are still unknown. The blood-squirting mechanism increases survival after contact with canine predators; therefore, it is probable that, while unorthodox, the trait could have provided an evolutionary advantage. Ocular autohemorrhaging has also been documented in other lizards, which suggests blood-squirting could have evolved from a less extreme defense in the ancestral branch of the genus. Recent phylogenic research supports this claim, so it appears as though the species incapable of squirting blood have lost the adaptation for reasons yet unstudied.

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