Related topics: species · fossil

Australian blue tongue lizard ancestor was round-in-the-tooth

Reconstruction of the most complete fossil lizard found in Australia, a 15 million year old relative of our modern blue tongues and social skinks named Egernia gillespieae, reveals the creature was equipped with a robust ...

Features that make lizards sexy are resilient to stress

Physical traits and behaviors that make a lizard sexy—features used to attract potential mates and fend off competitors—may be important enough that they do not change in the face of stress. A new study by researchers ...

Researchers find a way to use CRISPR Cas-9 on reptiles

A team of researchers at the University of Georgia has found a way to use the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing tool on reptiles. In their paper uploaded to the bioRxiv preprint server, the group describes the technique they developed ...

Method assesses health and size of lizard populations

Monitoring programs that survey many wildlife species at the same time across large geographic regions are important for informing conservation decisions, but reptiles are often missing from these efforts because they are ...

Research explains how snakes lost their limbs

Snakes and lizards are reptiles that belong to the order Squamata. They share several traits but differ in one obvious respect: Snakes do not have limbs. The two suborders diverged more than 100 million years ago. Identification ...

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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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