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Matt:

Lizards aren't bodybuilders. Why do they do so many pushups?

-- Greg G, San Diego

They're yelling, "Hey, look at me! I'm big and tough and if you don't get out of my territory, I'll bite you!" They puff themselves with air and try to look fierce by stretching their heads up or exposing colors on their bellies. They usually say this to other lizards, but they might be talking to you too. It can also mean, "Hey, baby, lookin' good!" Yes, scientists have studied lizard language, all the poetic subtleties of flared throats, whipping tails, waving crests, and color changes. Some professors in Indiana got their lizards to talk to some professional videotaped lizards while they took notes. But since "Bite me!" and "Woo-hoo chickie-chickie!"are about all lizards think about, the transcript is pretty boring. So, Greg, if you want to make that lizard's day the next time he does his push ups, scream in fear and and run away.

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