Its green blood and body contains 40 times the concentration of biliverdin that is enough to kill a human.
Another green skink (Prasinohaema virens) that has green blood and lives in the lowlands of New Guinea.
Not only can these skinks survive the incredibly high levels of toxicity, there are multiple species of these green-blooded skinks running around New Guinea, suggesting that there's some evolutionary advantage to it.
"Understanding the underlying physiological changes that have allowed these lizards to remain jaundice-free may translate to non-traditional approaches to specific health problems", Rodriguez concluded.
Prasinohaema prehensicauda, a green-blooded skinkCHRISTOPHER AUSTINSeveral species of New Guinea skinks, a type of lizard, are just as colorful inside as they are outside-bright green blood runs through their veins, an oddity among animals.
"In addition to having the highest concentration of biliverdin recorded for any animal, these lizards have somehow evolved a resistance to bile pigment toxicity", study lead author Zachary Rodriguez, from Louisiana State University (LSU), said in an LSU news release. Not only their blood has this color, but also their tongue, bones, and muscles. This makes it quite clear that the green blooded lizards evolved independently, suggesting that the green blood comes with certain properties which are beneficial. They examined 51 species of skinks, which included six species with green blood, two of which are species new to science. The results of the tests revealed that Prasinohaema lineages evolved to have green blood four separate times and all of their ancestors had red blood.
"There really is a fundamental goal of this trait", says study co-author Susan Perkins, also from the American Museum of Natural History.
Possible explanations include some sort of protection mechanism against malaria, to which lizards are very susceptible. "Ongoing work with the Austin lab examines the potential effect of the green blood pigment on malaria and other parasites that infect these lizards", said co-author Susan Perkins, curator and professor at the Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics and the Division of Invertebrate Zoology, American Museum of Natural History. Too much of a similar bile pigment, bilirubin, can give people jaundice. One theory is that the green blood protects the skinks against a host of parasites, like the many species of malaria that plague these reptiles. Several studies in the past have also shown that the bile pigment can act as an antioxidant and prevent diseases during in vitro fertilization.