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An easy relationship between a beetle and its yeast symbiont

Japanese lizard beetle larvae feed on yeast injected from their mothers' abdomens into the bamboo stems they are growing in. Now, scientists at Nagoya University have made a surprising discovery: the yeast can digest some ...

How can lizards adapt to a changing climate?

Researchers at the University of Toronto and Ohio Wesleyan University are collaborating in a quest to find out how lizards can adapt to the world's changing climate.

Two new species of skinks identified

To coincide with National Reptile Awareness Day today Thursday 21 October, a new paper published in the Journal of Herpetology, led by South Australian Museum Honorary Researcher Dr. Mark Hutchinson in collaboration with ...

Plant-eating lizards on the cusp of tooth evolution

Researchers at the Universities of Helsinki and Lyon and the Geological Survey of Finland found that complex teeth, a hallmark of mammals, also evolved several times in reptiles, prompting the evolutionary success of plant-eating ...

Study explores adaptation in island, mainland anoles

Islands are hot spots of evolutionary adaptation that can also advantage species returning to the mainland, according to a study published the week of Oct. 11 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Lizard

Many, see text.

Lizards are a very large and widespread group of squamate reptiles, with nearly 5,000 species, ranging across all continents except Antarctica as well as most oceanic island chains. The group, traditionally recognized as the suborder Lacertilia, is defined as all extant members of the Lepidosauria (reptiles with overlapping scales) which are neither sphenodonts (i.e., Tuatara) nor snakes. While the snakes are recognized as falling phylogenetically within the anguimorph lizards from which they evolved, the sphenodonts are the sister group to the squamates, the larger monophyletic group which includes both the lizards and the snakes.

Lizards typically have limbs and external ears, while snakes lack both these characteristics. However, because they are defined negatively as excluding snakes, lizards have no unique distinguishing characteristic as a group. Lizards and snakes share a movable quadrate bone, distinguishing them from the sphenodonts which have a more primitive and solid diapsid skull. Many lizards can detach their tails in order to escape from predators, an act called autotomy, but this trait is not universal. Vision, including color vision, is particularly well developed in most lizards, and most communicate with body language or bright colors on their bodies as well as with pheromones. The adult length of species within the suborder ranges from a few centimeters for some chameleons and geckos to nearly three meters (9 feet, 6 inches) in the case of the largest living varanid lizard, the Komodo Dragon. Some extinct varanids reached great size. The extinct aquatic mosasaurs reached 17.5 meters, and the giant monitor Megalania prisca is estimated to have reached perhaps seven meters.

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