AUTHOR FEATURE: Ander meets biologist, Dr. Hicks

On February 20, 2023, Ander Cross, Carol Cross, and Dr John met Dr James Hicks over zoom. Dr Hicks is a Professor, the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, the University of California Irvine.
James Hicks
Carol Cross
Ander Cross is fascinated with science and wanted to learn about Dr. Hicks's career as a scientist.
Ander Cross
Dr. Hicks shared that during his career he worked with reptiles such as alligators, rattlesnakes and Nile lizards. He worked with NASA, zoos, and other biologists. He shared that one of his favorite experiments was actually working with giraffes and studying circulatory systems. Specifically, their research was to look at the blood flow in the brain when giraffes reached up to eat from trees and then reached down to drink water. They used an ultrasound to study the brain. 
He also did research with lizards looking at their aerobic abilities (Ventilation and gas exchange in lizards during treadmill exercise. T Wang, DR Carrier, JW Hicks The Journal of Experimental Biology 200 (20), 2629-2639).
Dark Shade A Determined Dragon
Although he has seen komodo dragons at the San Diego zoo, he has never seen them in the wild. He shared that monitor lizards are from the genus Varanids and that komodo dragons like Nile monitor lizards and savanna lizards have great aerobic abilities much like mammals. Many biologists believe lizard to have limited capacity due to not having diaphragms but seem to use gular pouches to help regulate breathing. Monitor lizards unlike other lizards are known as the athletes of the lizard world because they can run and swim without getting exhausted. They are also very aggressive and are predators, whereas other lizards like iguanas are vegetarian.
He also shared where monitor lizards can be found in the wild.
komodos in the wild
We are so grateful to have met this very accomplished scientist who took the time to give us a prepublication review!



The first difference between a monitor lizard and a Komodo dragon lies in their appearances. Komodo dragons are inherently larger than all other species of monitor lizard, as Komodo dragons are the largest possible species of monitor lizard overall. Given this size difference, the average Komodo dragon can reach up to 300 pounds and over ten feet long, while most monitor lizard species average 3-7 feet long.

Komodo dragons also have a more fearsome appearance than the average monitor lizard, given their large size. The Komodo dragon’s neck and tail are extremely powerful and thick, while some monitor lizard species will have an average-sized tail and neck.

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