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Male Galápagos Santiago lava lizard.jpg
Microlophus jacobi, male
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Tropiduridae
Genus: Microlophus
Duméril & Bibron, 1837

22 recognized species, see text

Microlophus is a genus of Tropidurid lizards. There are twenty two recognized species in the genus, and nine of these are endemic to the Galápagos Islands where they are popularly known as lava lizards[1][2] (they are sometimes placed in Tropidurus instead). The remaining, which often are called Pacific iguanas, are found in the Andes and along the Pacific coast of Chile, Peru, and Ecuador.

The distribution of the lava lizards and their variations in shape, colour and behaviour show the phenomenon of adaptive radiation so typical of the inhabitants of this archipelago. One species occurs on all the central and western islands, which were perhaps connected during periods of lower sea levels, while one species each occurs on six other more peripheral islands. All have most likely evolved from a single ancestral species. However, as usual for Tropiduridae they can change their colour individually to some extent, and members of the same species occurring in different habitats also show colour differences. Thus animals living mainly on dark lava are darker than ones which live in lighter, sandy environments.


Listed alphabetically[3] (* endemic to the Galapágos Islands).


  1. ^ Fitter, J.;Fitter, D; and Hosking, D. (2000) Wildlife of the Galalpagos. Updated Edition. Princeton University Press. p.94.
  2. ^ Benavides,E; Baum, R.; Snell, H. M.; Snell, H. L.; and Sites, Jr., J. W. (2009) "Island Biogeography of Galápagos Lava Lizards (Tropiduridae: Microlophus): Species Diversity and Colonization of the Archipelago." (.pdf) Evolution, 63 (6): 1606–1626.
  3. ^ Microlophus, Reptile Database

External links[edit]