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Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizard
Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizard
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sauropsida
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Lacertilia
Many, see text.
Lizards are reptiles of the order Squamata, which they share with the snakes (Ophidians). They are usually four-legged, with external ear openings and movable eyelids. Species range in adult length from a few centimeters (some Caribbean geckos) to nearly three meters (Komodo dragons).Some lizard species called " glass snakes" or " glass lizards" have no functional legs, though there are some vestigial skeletal leg structures. They are distinguished from true snakes by the presence of eyelids and ears.Many lizards can change colour in response to their environments or in times of stress. The most familiar example is the chameleon, but more subtle colour changes occur in other lizard species as well (most notably the anole, also known as the "house chameleon" or "chamele").Lizards typically feed on insects or rodents. A few species are omnivorous or herbivorous; a familiar example of the latter is the iguana, which is unable to properly digest animal protein. Until very recently, it was thought that only two lizard species were venomous: the Mexican beaded lizard and the closely-related Gila monster, both of which live in northern Mexico and the southwest United States. However recent research at the University of Melbourne, Australia and Pennsylvania State University has revealed that in fact many lizards in the iguanians and monitor (lizard) families have venom-producing glands. None of these poses much danger to humans, as their poison is introduced slowly by chewing, rather than injected as with poisonous snakes. Nine toxins previously thought to only occur in snakes have been discovered, and a number of previously unseen chemicals as well.These revelations are prompting calls for a complete overhaul of the classification system for lizard species to form a venom clade. "These papers threaten to radically change our concepts of lizard and snake evolution, and particularly of venom evolution," says Harry Greene, a herpetologist at Cornell University in New York.Most other lizard species are utterly harmless to humans (most species native to North America, for example, are incapable even of drawing blood with their bites). Only the very largest lizard species pose any threat at all; the Komodo dragon, for example, has been known to attack and kill humans and their livestock. The chief impact of lizards on humans is positive; they are significant predators of pest species; numerous species are prominent in the pet trade; some are eaten as food (for example, iguanas in Central America); and lizard symbology plays important, though rarely predominant roles in some cultures (e.g. Tarrotarro in Australian mythology).Most lizards lay eggs, though a few species are capable of live birth. Many are also capable of regeneration of lost limbs or tails.Lizards in the Scincomorpha family, which include skinks (such as the blue-tailed skink), often have shiny, iridescent scales that appear moist. However, like all other lizards, they are dry-skinned and generally prefer to avoid water (though all lizards are able to swim if needed).

Classification - Contents

Plumed Basilisk (Basiliscus plumifrons) of the family Corytophanidae.
Plumed Basilisk (Basiliscus plumifrons) of the family Corytophanidae.
Zebra tailed lizard from Death Valley.
Zebra tailed lizard from Death Valley.
Suborder Sauria (Lacertilia) - (Lizards)
  • Infraorder Iguania
    • Family Agamidae ( agamas)
    • Family Chamaeleonidae (chameleons)
    • Family Corytophanidae (casquehead lizards)
    • Family Crotaphytidae (collared and leopard lizards)
    • Family Hoplocercidae (wood lizards, clubtails)
    • Family Iguanidae (iguanas and spinytail iguanas)
    • Family Leiocephalidae (see Tropidurinae)
    • Family Leiosauridae (see Polychrotinae)
    • Family Liolaemidae (see Tropidurinae)
    • Family Opluridae (Madagascar iguanids)
    • Family Phrynosomatidae (earless, spiny, tree, side-blotched and horned lizards)
    • Family Polychrotidae ( anoles)
    • Family Tropiduridae (neotropical ground lizards)
  • Infraorder Gekkota
    • Family Gekkonidae (geckos)
    • Family Pygopodidae ( legless lizards)
    • Family Dibamidae ( blind lizards)
  • Infraorder Scincomorpha
    • Family Scincidae (skinks)
    • Family Lacertidae ( wall lizards or true lizards)
    • Family Teiidae ( tegus and whiptails)
    • Family Cordylidae ( spinytail lizards)
    • Family Gerrhosauridae ( plated lizards)
    • Family Gymnophthalmidae ( spectacled lizards)
    • Family Xantusiidae ( night lizards)
  • Infraorder Diploglossa
    • Family Anguidae ( glass lizards)
    • Family Anniellidae ( American legless lizards)
    • Family Xenosauridae ( knob-scaled lizards)
  • Infraorder Platynota ( Varanoidea)
    • Family Varanidae (monitor lizards)
    • Family Lanthanotidae (earless monitor lizards)
    • Family Helodermatidae (gila monsters)
    • †Family Mosasauridae (marine lizards)
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