Warning issued after 5ft lizards rain down as extreme cold batters the US

America has got so cold that giant lizards are freezing solid and falling out of trees.

Bizarre warning signs are in place, urging people to be careful to avoid falling five-foot iguanas who are struggling in the extreme cold hitting the country.

The cold-blooded tree-dwelling creatures are freezing in their sleep before plunging to the ground.

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Sea turtles are also freezing and being washed ashore from the record breaking blizzard hell.

Jonathan Losos, an evolutionary biologist at Washington University, said: "Some other lizards are also known to fall out of trees as iguanas do, but they don’t get the publicity that a 5ft lizard does."

Experts said the creatures’ joints become stiff in the conditions which can cause them to lose their grip on branches.

Iguanas cannot generate their own body heat and must get it from their environment to stay warm.

Martha Muñoz, an evolutionary biologist at Yale University in the US, said: "You change the environment, and the organisms that are going to feel it first and hardest are the ectotherms [coldblooded animals ] because their entire fitness is thermally dependent."

Wildlife officials have been busy in recent weeks rescuing reptiles and probing the impact of the extreme cold.

But some researchers believe the iguanas are adapting to colder temperatures – so fewer are plunging from trees than before.

Ron Magill, from Miami Zoo, said: "With each year when we get a cold streak, I see less and less of those iguanas falling out of trees and being cold-stunned … and it’s not because there are less and less iguanas.

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"It’s just indicative that these animals are, in fact, adapting. Less and less of them are succumbing to this type of temperature differential."

At least 50 people have died linked to the severe storm that continues to batter the US and Canada.

Forecasters said temperatures in Canada are set to plunge to -43C overnight, bringing the risk of frostbite in just minutes.

Meanwhile, sea turtles have not been able to adapt as well to the cold snap.

Wendy Knight, executive director of rescue group Sea Turtle, said the situation is "unprecedented" and she fears hundreds of them may have suffered "cold stun", which paralyses them and prevents them from eating.

She said: "A cold stun like this could have the potential to wipe out decades of hard work, and we’re going through it with no power and a unique, more catastrophic challenge to our efforts."

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