|Roughtail rock agama (Stellagama stellio brachydactyla) in Jordan|
Agama (Suriname creole name for a lizard) is both the genus name of a group of small, long-tailed, insectivorous Old World lizards as well as a common name for these lizards. The genus Agama is composed of at least 37 species found across Africa, where they are the most common lizard. They can be found in many sizes, from 12.5 to 30 cm (5 in. to 1 ft.) in length and a wide variety of colours. One of the best known species is Agama agama, widespread in sub-Saharan Africa. For Eurasian agamaids, see the genus Laudakia.
Agamas originally lived in forest and bush across Africa, but have since adapted to live in villages and compounds where their habitat has been cleared. They live inside the thatch of huts and other small spaces, emerging only to feed. If caught out in the open, agamas are able to run quickly on their hind legs to reach shelter. The desert agama can still be found in the dry areas of North Africa. Despite their name, they avoid bare sand.
Agamas are active during the day and are often found scampering around to snatch up their favorite foods. They can tolerate greater temperatures than most reptiles, but in the afternoon when temperatures reach around 38 °C (100 °F) they will settle into the shade and wait for it to cool. Frequent fighting breaks out between males; such fighting involves a lot of bobbing and weaving in an attempt to scare the opponent. If it comes to blows, they lash out with their tails and threaten each other with open jaws. Many older males have broken tails as a result of such fights. Females may sometimes chase and fight one another, while hatchlings mimic the adults in preparation for their future.
Agamas are mainly insectivores. Their incisor-like front teeth are designed for quick cutting and chewing of their prey. They may also eat grass, berries, seeds and even the eggs of smaller lizards.
Most agamas are polygamous. Males may hold six or more females in their territory for breeding. During courtship, the male bobs his head to impress the female. Occasionally, females initiate courtship by offering their hindquarters to the male and then running until he is able to catch up. The breeding season is typically March–May with eggs being laid in June–September during the season after the rains. Eggs are laid in clutches of up to 12.
Etymology and taxonomy
In the 10th edition of Systema Naturae of 1758,  Linnaeus used the name Agama (pg. 288) as the species Lacerta Agama (with Agama originally capitalized to indicate a name in apposition rather than a Latin adjective, which he would have made lowercase). His own earlier description from 1749  was derived from Seba,  who described and illustrated a number of lizards as Salamandra amphibia and Salamandra Americana, said to resemble in some ways a chameleon lizard and that supposedly came (in error) from "America." Seba did not use the term "agama", however. Linnaeus repeated Seba's error in stating that the lizards lived in the Americas ["habitat in America"], and he included other types of lizards shown and mentioned by Seba under his species name Agama.
Daudin  later created the new genus, Agama, to incorporate various African and Asian lizards, as well as species from Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. He noted that the name agama was used by inhabitants of Guiana for a species that he included in the genus Agama.
The word "agama"  has been traced to West African Gbe languages as a name for the chameleon. The word was brought to Dutch Guiana (modern Suriname) by imported West African slaves and was then used in local creole languages for types of local lizards. Linnaeus may have taken the name "agama" from some unidentified source in the mistaken belief that the reptiles came from the Americas as indicated by Seba.
The name "agama" has no connection to either Greek agamos "unmarried" (as a supposed Latin feminine agama) or to Greek agamai "wonder" as sometimes suggested.
Because of the confusion over the actual taxon that was the basis for the name Agama agama, Wagner, et al. (2009)  designated a neotype (ZFMK 15222), using a previously described specimen from Cameroon in the collection of the Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig in Bonn.
|Image||Scientific name||Common name||Distribution|
|Agama aculeata Merrem, 1820||ground agama||Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Republic of South Africa, Mozambique, S Angola, Tanzania, Zambia, Swaziland|
|Agama africana (Hallowell, 1844)||West African Rainbow Lizard||Liberia, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone ?, Guinea|
|Agama agama (Linnaeus, 1758)||red-headed rock agama, common agama, rainbow agama||enin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde Islands, Chad, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, and Madagascar|
|Agama anchietae Bocage, 1896||western rock agama, Anchieta's agama||S Congo (Brazzaville), Angola, Namibia, Republic of South Africa (NW Cape), Botswana|
|Agama armata W. Peters, 1855||tropical spiny agama||South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Swaziland, southern Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire), southwestern Kenya, and central Tanzania|
|Agama atra Daudin, 1802||southern rock agama||Southern Africa|
|Agama bocourti Rochebrune, 1884||Bocourt's agama||Senegal, Gambia|
|Agama boensis Monard, 1940||Somali Agama|
|Agama bottegi Boulenger, 1897||Somali agama||Mali; Mauritania; Niger; Senegal|
|Agama boueti Chabanaud, 1917||Mali agama||Mali; Mauritania; Niger; Senegal|
|Agama boulengeri Lataste, 1886||Boulenger's agama||Mali, Mauritania|
|Agama caudospinosa Meek, 1910||Elmenteita rock agama||Kenya|
|Agama cristata Mocquard, 1905||insular agama||Guinea (Conakry), Mali|
|Agama doriae Boulenger, 1885||Nigeria agama||Ghana, Togo, Nigeria, Central African Republic to Eritrea and Ethiopia, N Cameroon, Sudan|
|Agama etoshae McLachlan, 1981||Etosha agama||Namibia|
|Agama finchi Böhme, Wagner, Malonza, Lötters & Köhler, 2005||Finch's agama or Malaba rock agama||W Kenya, Ethiopia|
|Agama gracilimembris Chabanaud, 1918||Benin agama||Ghana, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Central African Republic, probably in Chad (L. Chirio, pers. comm.), Mali, Guinea (Conakry), Burkina Faso|
|Agama hartmanni W. Peters, 1869||Hartmann's agama|
|Agama hispida (Kaup, 1827)||common spiny agama||Republic of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, S Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Malawi|
|Agama impalearis Boettger, 1874||Bibron's agama||Morocco but it extends south to Western Sahara and east into eastern Algeria|
|Agama insularis Chabanaud, 1918||insular agama||Rooma Island, Guinea|
|Agama kaimosae Loveridge, 1935||Kenya; Tanzania, United Republic of Congo|
|Agama kirkii Boulenger, 1885||Kirk's rock agama||Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, E Botswana, SW Tanzania|
|Agama lanzai Wagner, Leaché, Mazuch & Böhme, 2013||Somalia|
|Agama lebretoni Wagner, Barej & Schmitz, 2009||Lebreton's agama||Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Fernando Poo (Bioko Island), Nigeria|
|Agama lionotus Boulenger, 1896||Kenyan rock agama||Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia|
|Agama lucyae Wagner & Bauer, 2011||N Ethiopia|
|Agama montana Barbour & Loveridge, 1928||montane (rock) agama||Tanzania|
|Agama mossambica W. Peters, 1854||Mozambique agama||Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, E Zimbabwe|
|Agama mucosoensis Hellmich, 1957||Mucoso agama||Angola (Mucoso, Dondo, and Libolo/Luati)|
|Agama mwanzae Loveridge, 1923||Mwanza flat-headed rock agama||Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya|
|Agama parafricana S. Trape, Mediannikov & J. Trape, 2012||Benin; Ghana; Togo|
|Agama paragama Grandison, 1968||false agama||N Nigeria, N Cameroon, Mali, Central African Republic, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Benin, probably in W Chad (L. Chirio, pers. comm.), Niger|
|Agama persimilis Parker, 1942||Somali painted agama, similar agama||Somalia, Ethiopia, E/NE Kenya|
|Agama picticauda (Peters, 1877)||Gabon|
|Agama planiceps W. Peters, 1862||Namib rock agama||Namibia (Damaraland, Kaokoveld)|
|Agama robecchii Boulenger, 1892||Robecchi's agama||N Somalia, E Ethiopia|
|Agama rueppelli Vaillant, 1882||Rüppell's agama, arboreal agama||Somalia, E Ethiopia, Kenya, S Sudan|
|Agama sankaranica Chabanaud, 1918||Senegal agama||Guinea (Conakry), Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Benin, Togo, Mali, Cameroon (?), Senegal, Niger|
|Agama somalica Wagner, Leaché, Mazuch & Böhme, 2013||NE Somalia|
|Agama spinosa Gray, 1831||Lanza's spiny agama||Egypt, Sudan, N Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, N Somalia|
|Agama sylvana M. MacDonald, 1981||Ghana, Benin, Cameroon|
|Agama tassiliensis Geniez, Padial, and Crochet, 2011||Mali (Adrar des Ifoghas), Niger (Aïr Mountains), Algeria (Ahaggar Mountains), Libya (Tassili n’Ajjer)|
|Agama turuensis Loveridge, 1932||Tanzania|
|Agama wagneri S. Trape, Mediannikov & J. Trape, 2012||Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde Islands, Chad, Ghana, Guinea (Conakry), Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Ivory Coast.|
|Agama weidholzi Wettstein, 1932||Gambia agama||Senegal, Gambia, W Mali, Guinea-Bissau|
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- Spawls, Stephen; Howell, Kim M.; Drewes, Robert C. (2006). Reptiles and Amphibians of East Africa. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0691128849.
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