Thursday, January 03, 2008

Marine Iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus)

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rimary Metadata Title: WO1373 Marine Iguanas. Alternative Title: (Amblyrhynchus cristatus)
Creator: Stolz, Gary M. Source: wO-Scenics-1373 Publisher: U.S. Fish and Wildilfe Service. Contributor DIVISION OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS. Language: EN - ENGLISH. Rights: (public domain) Audience: (general) Subject: Ecuador, Lizard, Reptiles.

Marine Iguana From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Marine Iguana (Amblyrhynchus cristatus) is an iguana that has the unique ability among modern lizards to live and forage in the sea. It is found only on the Galapagos Islands, but has spread to all the islands in the archipelago, and is sometimes called the Galapagos Marine Iguana. It mainly lives on the rocky Galapagos shore, but can also be spotted in marshes and mangrove beaches.

On his visit to the islands, Charles Darwin was revolted by the animals' appearance, writing:

The black Lava rocks on the beach are frequented by large (2-3 ft) most disgusting clumsy Lizards. They are as black as the porous rocks over which they crawl & seek their prey from the Sea. I call them 'imps of darkness'. They assuredly well become the land they inhabit.

In fact, Amblyrhynchus cristatus is not always black; the young have a lighter coloured dorsal stripe, and some adult specimens are grey. The reason for the sombre tones is that the species must rapidly absorb heat to minimize the period of lethargy after emerging from the water. They feed almost exclusively on marine algae, expelling the excess salt from nasal glands while basking in the sun, and the coating of salt can make their faces appear white. In adult males, coloration varies with the season. Breeding-season adult males on the southern islands are the most colorful and will acquire reddish and teal-green colors, while on Santa Cruz they are brick red and black, and on Fernandina they are brick red and dull greenish.

Another difference between the iguanas is size, which is different depending on the island the individual iguana inhabits. The iguanas living on the islands of Fernandina and Isabela (named for the famous rulers of Spain) are the largest found anywhere in the Galápagos. On the other end of the spectrum, the smallest iguanas are found on the

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article, Marine Iguana

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