X is for Xenosaurus grandis
Knob-scaled lizard (Xenosaurus grandis), photographed by and with permission of Richard Sage, University of California.
The knob-scaled lizard (Xenosaurus grandis) is a lizard that lives in tropical rainforests in Mexico and Guatemala.
It is active in the day, and skulks alone inside rock crevices in cliff faces – it can also be found in holes in limestone, under volcanic boulders, and if no other suitable habitat is available, inside hollow logs.
It has a flattened head and body enabling it to get into narrow spaces, and spends virtually its whole life living inside the same cracks and crevices.
It has a forked tongue and small fang-like teeth and is very aggressive. Its main diet consists of insects with some small vertebrates that it surprises when they come into the rocks. It will also fight with other knob-scaled lizards to maintain its territory.
It may detect prey using its forked tongue to ‘taste’ the chemicals they give off, but tests have not completely proven this.
These lizards are classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species because of habitat destruction, fragmentation and decreasing population size. Climate change in their area is also causing greater mortality rates as they are very sensitive to temperature rises.
Image © Richard Sage as above.
Poem © Liz Brownlee.
Cooper, W. E., J. A. Lemos-Espinal et al. (1998). ‘Presence and effect of defensiveness or context on detectability of prey chemical discrimination in the lizard Xenosaurus platyceps.” Herpetologica 54 (3): 409-413
J. Gastón Zamora-Abrego, J.Jaime Zúñiga-Vega, Adrián Nieto-Montes de Oca “Variation in Reproductive Traits within the Lizard Genus Xenosaurus”. Journal of Herpetology, 41 (4):630-637.2007 DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1670/06-266.1 URL: http://www.bioone.org/doi/full/10.1670/06-266.1
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