From geckos to Komodo dragons: the most impressive species of lizards

From geckos to Komodo dragons: the most impressive species of lizards

Before releasing it into the forest, Juan deftly holds by the head and body a specimen of the venomous Heloderma charlesbogerti, an endemic lizard from eastern Guatemala on the brink of extinction.

Lizards are a diverse and ancient group of reptiles that live all over the world today. There are thousands of species of lizards, and each has adaptations Yes features promotions. There are lizards with frillslizards with horns and lizards with at. Most lizards have four legs, but some get by with two and some have no legs.

The name “lizard” it does not correspond to a single scientific group. Lizards belong to the order Squamates, which they share with snakes. There is a lot of subgroups within Squamata which are commonly called lizards, among which are geckos, iguanas, worm lizards and Autarchoglossa, according to the Integrated taxonomic information system (IT IS), an association of North American agencies, organizations, and taxonomists that provides taxonomic information. All lizards are sometimes grouped under the suborders Lacertilia or Sauria, but ITIS does not consider them to be valid scientific groups.

Are they dinosaurs?

Lizards probably predate dinosaurs, which first appeared around 230 million years ago, during the Triassic period (AFP)
Lizards probably predate dinosaurs, which first appeared around 230 million years ago, during the Triassic period (AFP)

Although they are reptiles, lizards They are not dinosaurs. The plant of the body, and therefore of movement, is an essential difference between the two groups. The lizards have paws extended and walk side by side. Dinosaurs, on the other hand, had an upright posture with the legs placed underneath, according to the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Lizards have been around for hundreds of millions of years and have survived several mass extinction events, including an asteroid impact that caused the extinction of non-avian dinosaurs 66 million years ago (although avian dinosaurs survived as birds). Alligators They probably predate the dinosaurs. They first appeared about 230 million years ago, during the Triassic period (between 251.9 and 201.3 million years ago).

“Based on a new estimate of the rate of evolution of lizards, we we can place the origin of these reptiles at the end of the Permian, about 260 million years ago,” he wrote. Alessandro Palci, associate researcher in evolutionary biology at Flinders University of Australia, in The conversation in 2018.

types of lizards

The largest and heaviest lizards are Komodo dragons (Varanus komodoensis) from Indonesia (REUTERS)
The largest and heaviest lizards are Komodo dragons (Varanus komodoensis) from Indonesia (REUTERS)

Lizards have a large variety of shapes, sizes and colors. The biggest and heaviest lizards are the dragons. Komodo (Varanus komodoensis) from Indonesia. They weigh an average of 70 kilos and the largest Komodo dragon ever recorded was 3.1 meters long, according to the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

It is clear that Komodo dragons are the biggest lizards. However, because the smallest lizards are so tiny, it’s harder for scientists to know which species is the smallest. Alligators Jaragua (Sphaerodactylus ariasae) from the Caribbean held the record for the smallest lizards on Earth when they were described in study of 2001 published in the magazine Caribbean Journal of Science. With an average duration of 16 millimeters, Not counting the tail, the lizards were smaller than any known bird or mammal at the time.

But in 2021 came a rival for her little crown, when a chameleon named Brookesian lullaby in Madagascar in study published in the journal Scientific reports. The males of B. lullaby are smaller than those of S. ariasae, as they only reach about 0.5 inches (13.5 mm). However, females of this species are longer than Jaragua lizards, with 19.2mm.

Size isn't the only characteristic that distinguishes some species of lizards (REUTERS)
Size isn’t the only characteristic that distinguishes some species of lizards (REUTERS)

“Considering that the general body plan of reptiles is quite similar to that of mammals and humans, it is fascinating to see how miniaturized these organisms and their organs can become,” he then said in an email to living sciences the lead author of the study, Frank Glaw, herpetologist of the Bavarian State Zoological Collection, Munich.

The Cut it is not the only characteristic that distinguishes certain species of lizards. to members of the genus duck they are usually called “flying dragons” as they glide from tree to tree in Southeast Asia using a thin membrane that stretches between their fore and hind legs like a pair of flat wings. For their part, the basilisk lizards of the kind Basiliscus from Central and South America they run so fast on their hind legs that they can run on water, aided by specialized scales on their feet. They do this to escape predators, earning them the nickname “Jesus Christ lizard”, according to the Smithsonian National Zoo.

If the lizards are caught by a predator, they may snap or “drop” their tails to avoid being eaten. If this happens they can regrow their tails, but the new tails are not perfect copies. The original tail bones do not grow back, so the new tails are mainly cartilage, according study of 2015 published in the magazine Developmental biology.

Where do they live

Lizards are ectothermic, meaning they depend on the outside environment for warmth and cannot regulate their own body temperature like endothermic animals such as mammals do (REUTERS)
Lizards are ectothermic, meaning they depend on the outside environment for warmth and cannot regulate their own body temperature like endothermic animals such as mammals do (REUTERS)

Alligators They live all over the world and occupy all kinds of habitats. For example, in North America, horned lizards The Texas (Phrynosoma cornutum) spends much of its time on loose sands in open, arid or semi-arid areas of northern Mexico and the south-central United States, including most of Texas – d ‘where their name, according to the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife.

On the contrary, is near the lizards (Sceloporus undulatus) usually lives in tree-lined areas. These lizards, which live as far north as New York, both south and north Florida and as western as Arkansasuse trees to escape predators such as snakes and birds, according to the National Wildlife Federation.

Some lizards, like basils, spend much of their time in and around the Water. Lizards generally use freshwater habitats, but marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus) of the Galapagos Islands They dive into the ocean to feed on algae, according to the natural History Museum from London.

Lizards can be territorial and spend most of their time alone or live with dozens of other lizards of the same or different species (REUTERS)
Lizards can be territorial and spend most of their time alone or live with dozens of other lizards of the same or different species (REUTERS)

the lizards are ectothermicWhich means that depend on the external environment to warm up and cannot regulate their own body temperature as endothermic animals such as mammals do. This means that, like frogs and snakes, they are often called “cold-blooded”. Therefore, most lizards are active during the day and can be seen basking in the sun for warmth.

Lizards can be territorial, spending most of their time alone or living with dozens of other lizards of the same or different species. Alligators they don’t usually spend time with other people of their kind, except to mate, but there are exceptions. For instance, desert night lizards (Xantusia vigilis) live in family groups, according to investigation of the University of California at Santa Cruz.

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