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Posts Tagged "lizards"

Extinction Countdown

Teeny, Tiny Relative of Komodo Dragon Discovered in Australia

dampier-peninsula-goanna

Lizards don’t get much bigger than the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis), which can reach three meters in length and may weigh as much as 70 kilograms. But not every member of the Varanus genus is a giant. Scientists in Australia last month unveiled the newest Varanus species and it’s as small as the Komodo is [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Rare Iguana is Endangered Because People Like to Eat Egg-Carrying Females

Valle de Aguán spiny-tailed iguana

It’s a simple equation, really: If a species can’t reproduce, it will go extinct. A critically endangered species in Honduras faces that risk in a notable way. It turns out that the people who coexist with Valle de Aguán spiny-tailed iguanas (Ctenosaura melanosterna) not only like to eat the lizards they prefer the taste of [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Unusual Night Lizard Returns after Eradication of Invasive Species

Island Night Lizard

A rare reptile found only on a few islands off the California coast has become the latest species to recover and leave the protection of the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported this week. The island night lizard (Xantusia riversiana) originally faced threats from nonnative species such as goats, pigs and [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Tourists Are Giving Endangered Iguanas Diarrhea and High Cholesterol

iguana grape

Hop on over to the photo-sharing site Flickr and you’ll find dozens of photos and videos of people eagerly feeding grapes to hungry iguanas on the beaches of the Bahamas. It looks like great fun and the iguanas obviously go crazy for the fruit, which is usually fed to the lizards on the ends of [...]

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Image of the Week

Monitoring the Many Faces of Monitors

DarrenNaishVaranidFEATURE

Artist: Darren Naish Source: Monitor musings, varanid variables, goannasaurian goings-on… it’s about monitor lizards, by Darren Naish on Tetrapod Zoology If you’re not a herpetologist, you may be of the mindset that lizards all look the same, but that would only expose you for what you are: a human primate, finely attuned to the faces [...]

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Observations

First Prehistoric Snake Slithered Out on Land–Not at Sea

snake lizard fossil jaw evolve land

Sorry, sea serpents. Snakes, it seems, slithered off their lizard legs on land. A new analysis of a primitive snake fossil suggests that these animals emerged from a line of burrowing reptiles. Snakes are in the same reptilian order that includes lizards, but just how and where they split off to live their legless lives [...]

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Observations

New Fossil Severs Snakes from Legless Lizard Line

ancestor limbless lizard not snake fossil

Snakes aren’t just lizards without any legs. But a curious group of long, legless lizards look suspiciously like snakes themselves. Also known as "worm lizards" (aka amphisbaenians), these small serpentine reptiles have evolved a limb-free body plan and strong heads that are handy for their burrowing lifestyle. So are they the snake’s closest lizard relatives? [...]

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Running Ponies

So Skinny, So Bright: How Colour Change Predicts the Odds of a Chameleon Battle

chameleon-face-off-featured

When it comes to male-on-male chameleon battles, sometimes it’s not all about who’s the biggest or the strongest. Sometimes it’s about mastering what chameleons do best – changing colours. With some males reaching more than 60 cm long, the veiled chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus) from the southwestern coastal regions of the Arabian Peninsula is one of [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

People Are Modifying Monitors to Make Gargantuan Geckos

Note the long, slender tail, the five-toed foot, five-fingered hand, and the blunt tips to the digits. The animal's right eye might be visible in this shot. It's gecko-like, but not like any gecko we know.

Over the last several days a consortium of people interested in herpetology, weird animals, animal lore, and special effects have worked together to help resolve an incredible and bizarre ‘mystery’*. People in Indonesia (and perhaps elsewhere in tropical Asia) are modifying live monitor lizards to make them look like gargantuan Tokay geckos Gekko gecko. * [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

A Fine First Finding of Darevskia

Here's the refresher for squamate head scalation you were looking for. This image (depicting a lacertid) is from Arnold (1989). In case it isn't obvious, you need to obtain and read Nick Arnold's papers if you're really interested in lacertid diversity and evolution.

While in Romania back in 2011, I photographed the lizard you see here. It’s clearly a lacertid: a member of the Eurasian-African group that contains the familiar Lacerta sand lizards and green lizards as well as many other groups. But, beyond that, I couldn’t identify it in the field. Back at Tet Zoo Towers, and [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

The Atomic Worm-Lizard and Other Aprasia Flapfoots

Flinders worm-lizard (Aprasia pseudopulchella). Note the strong superficial resemblance to a typhlopid blindsnake.

I’m feeling the urge to blog about lizards. So, today I’d like to talk about the Aprasia species, a group of short-tailed, near-limbless gekkotans that belong to the Australian Pygopodidae family, the so-called flapfoots, flap-footed lizards or pygopods. Historically, the term Pygopodidae has been used in more than one fashion. For the purposes of removing [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Sandfishes and kin: of sand-swimming, placentation, and limb and digit reduction (skinks part III)

Captive Scincus scincus individuals - what neat and handsome animals they are. Images by HTO (at top) and Ltshears. Both images in public domain.

In recent articles I’ve made an effort to review the skinks of the world and today – it’s a momentous occasion – we see the last part of this series. I hope it’s clear that the Tet Zoo skink ‘review’ is very much a simple summary: it really doesn’t do justice to the full diversity [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Terror skinks, social skinks, crocodile skinks, monkey-tailed skinks… it’s about skinks (skinks part II)

Criminally simplified depiction of lygosomine skink phylogeny (topology mostly based on Pyron et al. 2013). Photos (top to bottom) by Wolfgang Wuster, H. Zell, $Mathe94$, Benjamint444 (all CC BY-SA 3.0), Mark Stevens (CC BY 2.0), W.A. Djatmiko, S. Caut et al. (both CC BY-SA 3.0).

October 2014 continues – for no particular reason at all – to be Lizard Month here at Tet Zoo and right now it’s time for more skinks. The previous article is a sort of general introduction to the group as well as a review of the limbless acontiines/acontids and weird feylinines. This time, we move [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Skinks skinks skinks (part I)

A Tiliqua montage. At top: Blotched blue-tongue (T. nigrolutea) (photo by Benjamin444, CC BY-SA 3.0). Below: A Shingleback (T. rugosa) (photo by Jarrod, CC-BY-2.0).

Skinks (properly Scincidae… though read on) are one of the most successful of squamate groups, accounting for approximately 1500 species – in other words, for about 25% of all lizards. Skinks occur on all continents (except Antarctica) as well as on numerous island groups. Extant species range from less than 10 cm in total length [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Racerunner lizards of the world unite

Racerunners as geopolitical icons. Steppe-runners (E. arguta) on stamps produced by Kyrgyzstan and Moldova. Images in public domain.

Today we’re here because of the lacertid lizards, the Old World clade that includes Eurasian wall lizards, green lizards, fringe-toed lizards and a great number of less familiar species groups that rarely get much attention outside of the specialist literature. Yes, as you might have realised if you’re a long-term and/or regular reader, this is [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Neat news from the TetZoo-sphere

"Tapirs sometimes walk on the bottom of lakes and rivers". Oh really? Yes, really.

Here are some amazing things that me and my friends have been talking about lately. They all concern fascinating discoveries or insights into unusual aspects of tetrapod behaviour. We’ll start with my current obsession: the short bit of underwater footage (16 seconds long) that shows an adult Lowland tapir Tapirus terrestris ‘walking’ (at great speed) [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Monitor musings, varanid variables, goannasaurian goings-on… it’s about monitor lizards

Current version of the monitor montage. Image by Darren Naish.

There’s been a bit of a monitor lizard thing going on here for the past few months: articles have covered Australian goannas, the Komodo dragon Varanus komodoensis, Dumeril’s monitor and Timor and Peachthroat monitors, and the ‘prasinoid’ tree monitors. In ‘spare’ time, I’ve been working on the montage you see here, designed to depict a [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Hell yes: Komodo dragons!!! (again)

Komodo dragon feeding scrum. Not sure what's in the middle, but I somehow doubt that it's alive.

What with all the monitor-themed goodness around these parts lately (see links below), it seems only fitting that I provide a re-vamped, substantially updated version of this Tet Zoo ver 2 classic (originally published in September 2007). Here we go… Without doubt, one of the coolest living animals on the planet is the Komodo dragon Varanus [...]

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