July 22, 2007

Leaping Lizards, Batman!

I always find it annoying when bloggers comment on how long it's been since they last posted. So I'm not going to do that this time. Instead, we'll just pretend that I have filled the last sixteen days will a multitude of witty and interesting posts. Soooo....

Anyway, today was a good lizard day. It's always nice when you experience a good lizard day.

It all started because I got to spend the first half of my work day at the Well. I spent part of it wandering around the trails looking for reptiles, and I wasn't disappointed. While I could have photographed many more species today, for some reason these three lizards peaked my curiosity. So, three lizards from three very different subfamilies (you can click on the name of each lizard to see more info about them).

Greater Earless Lizard
Cophosaurus texanus
First up is a species I see all the time along the rim of the Well, and practically nowhere else in the valley. From the subfamily Phrynosomatinae, this colorful lizard is one of my favorites. If you get too close, it runs a short distance, then stops and lifts/wags its tail at you, a behavior that is intended to inform predators that the lizard has spotted them. I suppose this could discourage a fox or bird from expending the energy needed to catch it. This guy decided rather quickly that I wasn't a predator. Instead he seemed impressed by how manly I am and tried to intimidate me into getting out of his territory by doing push-ups and extending his blue and yellow gullar fold (the flap of skin on his throat).

Desert Grassland Whiptail
Aspidoscelis uniparens
Running around next to the Greater Earless Lizard was this female whiptail, a member of the subfamily Teiidae. I know for a fact that it is a female because there are no males at all in this species! The eggs are completely unfertilized and all offspring are merely clones of the mother. And, get this...in order to provoke egg-laying, two female whiptails will simulate copulation (mating), with one acting as the male. So much for homosexuality being unnatural! I think gay-rights activists need to start spreading the word about Arizona's lesbian lizards. Take that, Fred Phelps! I wouldn't be surprised if Fred started a website called www.godhateslizards.com if he ever learned of this. However, since he's nothing but an ignorant, hateful bigot, I'm not worried about any impending anti-lizard campaigns.

Madrean Alligator Lizard, (juvenile)
Elgaria kingii
The grand finale of the day was this tiny little member of the subfamily Anguidae, which includes both glass and alligator lizards. We saw this one slithering around along the trail near our house during a walk with the dogs. I had absolutely no idea what it was initially, although I did notice that it moved alot like the other alligator lizards I've seen. As you can see if you click on the link under the picture, adults and juveniles look very different. So it's not surprising that I was confused. This one was definitely the highlight of the day. It's legs and feet were so tiny, and it moved so snake-like, we weren't even sure it was a lizard until I picked it up.

I'm hoping to get some better lizard photos when we finally get around to buying a real camera (which will hopefully be sooner, rather than later). Until then, here's a blurry glare from an annoyed alligator lizard.


Patrick Belardo said...

I have particularly enjoyed all of your invisible posts over the last few weeks. Cool lizards. Alligator Lizards remind of the song "Ventura Highway" by America.

Tim said...

Do you like to travel? So then, can we trade jobs? Great blog!