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Crotaphytus collaris
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Iguania
Clade: Pleurodonta
Family: Crotaphytidae
H.M. Smith & Brodie, 1982


The Crotaphytidae, or collared lizards, are a family[1][2][3] of desert-dwelling reptiles native to the Southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Alternatively they are recognized as a subfamily, Crotaphytinae, within the clade Pleurodonta. They are very fast-moving animals, with long limbs and tails; some species are capable of achieving bipedal running at top speed. This species is carnivorous, feeding mainly on insects and smaller lizards. The two genera contain 12 species.

They may be related to the extinct Arretosauridae of Paleogene Asia due to similar jaw morphologies, though other studies classify the Arretosauridae in Acrodonta with other Old World iguanians.[4][5]

Technical characters[edit]

  • Femoral pores present
  • Interparietal scale small (distinctly smaller than ear opening)
  • Never have an enlarged middorsal scale row or fringe
  • Never have a divided rostral scale
  • No bony spines or projecting ridges on their heads
  • No scales projecting over their ears, and no scales forming a prominent fringe on sides of toes as in Phrynosomatidae


Image Genus Living species
Gambelia Baird, 1859[6][7] (leopard lizards)
Crotaphytus Holbrook, 1842[6][8] (collared lizards)

Nota bene: A binomial authority in parentheses indicates that the species was originally described in different genus.


  1. ^ Townsend, Ted M.; Mulcahy, Daniel G.; Noonan, Brice P.; Sites, Jack W. Jr; Kuczynski, Caitlin A.; Wiens, John J.; Reeder, Tod W. (2011). "Phylogeny of iguanian lizards inferred from 29 nuclear loci, and a comparison of concatenated and species-tree approaches for an ancient, rapid radiation". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 61 (2): 363–380. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2011.07.008. PMID 21787873.
  2. ^ Wiens, John T.; Hutter, Carl R.; Mulcahy, Daniel G.; Noonan, Brice P.; Townsend, Ted M.; Sites, Jack W. Jr.; Reeder, Tod W. (2012). "Resolving the phylogeny of lizards and snakes (Squamata) with extensive sampling of genes and species". Biology Letters. 8 (6): 1043–1046. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2012.0703. PMC 3497141. PMID 22993238.
  3. ^ Pyron, R. Alexander; Burbrink, Frank T.; Wiens, John J. (2013). "A phylogeny and revised classification of Squamata, including 4161 species of lizards and snakes". BMC Evolutionary Biology. 13: 93. Bibcode:2013BMCEE..13...93P. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-13-93. PMC 3682911. PMID 23627680.
  4. ^ Alifanov, V. R. (2012-07-01). "Lizards of the family Arretosauridae Gilmore, 1943 (Iguanomorpha, Iguania) from the Paleogene of Mongolia". Paleontological Journal. 46 (4): 412–420. Bibcode:2012PalJ...46..412A. doi:10.1134/S0031030112040028. ISSN 1555-6174. S2CID 119087759.
  5. ^ Bolet, Arnau; Stubbs, Thomas L; Herrera-Flores, Jorge A; Benton, Michael J (2022-05-03). Zhu, Min; Perry, George H; Zhu, Min (eds.). "The Jurassic rise of squamates as supported by lepidosaur disparity and evolutionary rates". eLife. 11: e66511. doi:10.7554/eLife.66511. ISSN 2050-084X. PMC 9064307. PMID 35502582.
  6. ^ a b Dahms Tierleben.
  7. ^ Genus Gambelia at The Reptile Database
  8. ^ Genus Crotaphytus at The Reptile Database

Further reading[edit]

  • Frost DR, Etheridge RE (1989). A Phylogenetic Analysis and Taxonomy of Iguanian Lizards (Reptilia: Squamata) Univ. Kansas Mus. Nat. Hist. Misc. Publ. 81: 1-62. (Family Crotaphytidae, p. 36).
  • Smith HM, Brodie ED Jr (1982). Reptiles of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. New York: Golden Press. 240 pp. ISBN 0-307-13666-3. (Subfamily Crotaphytinae, p. 106).