Lizards Unknown

Lizards make up the Suborder Lacertilia of the large reptilian Order Squamata, which also includes Snakes and Amphisbaenians (Worm lizards). In general, lizards are small- to medium-sized scaly reptiles with four clawed feet, elongated bodies, and tapering tails. Some are highly arboreal, others specialize in burrowing, and still others are occasionally bipedal. There are four lizard infraorders: Gekkota, Igua-nia, Scincomorpha, and Anguimorpha.

Infraorder Gekkota includes Geckos (Gekkonidae and Eublepharidae) and Australasian legless lizards (Pygopodidae). Geckos are known for their ability to climb up walls and across ceilings because of the microscopic suction cups on the bristles of their toe pads. They are widespread throughout tropical and subtropical regions of both the New and Old Worlds. Geckos can also vocalize, and their name derives from an Asian species with a cry that sounds like "geck-o." The earliest unequivocal gekkotan fossil is Hoburogecko from Mongolia in the Early Cretaceous, 105 million years ago. Most geckos are less than 6 inches long (not including the tail, which frequently breaks off).

Infraorder Iguania includes Iguanas (Iguan-idae), Agamids (Agamidae), and Chameleons (Chameleonidae). In general, they have robust bodies, short necks, fleshy tongues, well-developed eyelids, distinct heads, and overlapping and noniridescent scales. Many species have well-developed ornamental crests, spines, frills, or colorful throat fans. Some, such as the Water dragon (Physignathus), are bipedal and run rapidly on only two legs. Others, such as the Flying lizards (Draco) of Asia, have ribs modified for arboreal gliding. The first unequivocal iguanian fossil is Pristiguana from South America in the Late Cretaceous, 80 million years ago.

Infraorder Scincomorpha includes Spectacled lizards (Gymnophthalmidae), Night lizards (Xantusiidae), Wall lizards (Lacertidae), Whip-tails and Tegus (Teiidae), Spinytail lizards (Cordylidae), and True skinks (Scincidae). In general, these animals have slim bodies, with heads not clearly differentiated from the neck; if the scales overlap, they are iridescent. Except for the wall lizards, this group has a definite ten lizards 297

dency toward limb reduction and development of a snakelike body. The Common lizard (Lacerta vivipara) of Europe exists above the Arctic Circle; no other lizard is found that far north. The largest animal in this group, the Prehensile-tailed skink (Coruciazebrata) of the Solomon Islands, is about 2 feet long and is the only true herbivorous skink. The earliest unambiguous scincomorph fossil is Paramacellodus from the United Kingdom in the Middle Jurassic, 170 million years ago.

Infraorder Anguimorpha includes Glass lizards and Alligator lizards (Anguidae), Legless lizards (Anniellidae), Rock lizards (Xenosauri-dae), Plated lizards (Gerrhosauridae), Blind lizards (Dibamidae), the venomous Heloderms (Helodermatidae), Monitors (Varanidae), and Earless monitors (Lanthanotidae). The group also includes a number of large, heavily armored extinct forms—notably, the aquatic mosasaurs. A diverse group, anguimorphs have two-part tongues and relatively solid teeth in common. The earliest known anguimorph is Parviraptor from the United Kingdom in the Middle Jurassic, 170 million years ago.

The largest living lizard is the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) of Indonesia, which averages 8 feet 6 inches in total length and weighs 175-200 pounds. The largest accurately measured Komodo was a male residing at the St. Louis Zoological Park that was 10 feet 2 inches long and weighed 365 pounds in 1937. Komodo dragons are excellent swimmers and can run at speeds up to 15 miles per hour. The Crocodile monitor (Varanus salvadorii) of Papua New Guinea regularly grows over 12 feet long, making it the longest lizard in the world. One specimen was measured at 15 feet 7 inches.

Lizards can be difficult to identify in the field without capturing a specimen, which makes it especially problematic to place lizardlike cryptids into their respective infraorders. Larger mystery lizards tend to be identified as monitors because of their size and general appearance. Of the twenty-five lizards in this list, eight (Afa, Artrelua, Au Angi Angi, Australian Giant Monitor, Buru, Das-Adder, Nguma-Mcnene, and Venezuelan Monitor) could be monitors.

Lizards have also been proposed as candidates for mystery Crocodilians, Dinosaurs, Dragons, Flying Reptiles, Freshwater Monsters, and Snakes.

Mystery Lizards


Das-Adder; Giant Ethiopian Lizard; Mu-huru; Nguma-Monene; Oldeani Monster


Afa; Bis-Cobra; Buru; Jhoor Australasia and Oceania

Artrelua; Au Angi-Angi; Australian Giant Monitor; Giant Tongan Skink; Hairy Lizard; Kawekaweau; Kumi; Ngarara


Dard; Genaprugwirion; Lindorm; Ossun Lizard; Tatzelwurm

North America

Giant North Am em can Lizard; Gowrow

South America Venezuelan Monitor

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