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Thorny devils can drink from sand: study

AAP logoAAP 3/11/2016 Rebecca Gredley

WA researchers have been flat out like lizards drinking, discovering that the thorny devil can, in fact, drink while lying down.

They've learned that the curious ant-eating lizards absorb water by flicking moist sand onto their backs.

Phil Withers from The University of Western Australia's School of Animal Biology led the research after being contacted by a German PhD student.

Their discovery has confirmed and built on knowledge of the unique way thorny devils perform the trick, while standing in puddles and absorbing tiny 'mouthfuls' through their skin about the size of a pinhead.

The research shows rain and moist sand are the most likely water sources for the desert dwellers.

Professor Withers says the uniqueness of the thorny devils make them incredible to study.

"Everything about them is special compared to other dragon lizards, from their special water drinking to their diet and how they feed, how they move and their cryptic thorny appearance," he said.

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