Fringe-toed lizard

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Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizard.JPG
Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard, Uma inornata
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Iguania
Family: Iguanidae
Subfamily: Phrynosomatinae
Genus: Uma
Baird, 1859[1]

Fringe-toed lizards are lizards of the genus Uma in the subfamily Phrynosomatinae, native to deserts of North America. They are adapted for life in sandy deserts with fringe-like scales on their hind toes hence their common name.


These lizards have a brown and tan coloration that helps them to blend in with the sand. The dorsal surface has a velvety texture with intricate markings. In addition, they also have prominent elongated scales which form a fringe on the sides of their hind toes.[2] These fringes aid with traction and speed, and help the lizard avoid sinking into loose, sandy dunes.[3]

Fringe-toed lizards also possess upper jaws which overlap the lower ones, preventing the intrusion of sand particles, and nostrils that can be closed at will. Flaps also close against the ear openings when moving through sand, and the upper and lower eyelids have interlocking scales that prevent sand from getting into the eyes.[2]

Geographic range[edit]

These lizards range throughout southeast California and southwest Arizona, and extend into northwest Sonora and northeast Baja California.[2]


They are found in low desert areas having fine, loose sand.


They primarily eat insects, including ants, beetles, grasshoppers, and caterpillars. Flower buds, stems, leaves and seeds of plants are also eaten.[2]


See also[edit]

  • Meroles, a genus of African lizards with morphological and ecological similarities
  • Xerocoles, animals adapted to desert environments


  1. ^ Wikispecies
  2. ^ a b c d Stebbins, Robert (2003). A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians (3rd ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin. pp. 280–282. ISBN 0395982723. 
  3. ^ Carothers, J. H. (1986). "An experimental confirmation of morphological adaptation: toe fringes in the sand-dwelling lizard Uma scoparia". Evolution. 40 (4): 871–874. JSTOR 2408475. doi:10.2307/2408475. 
  4. ^ The Reptile Database.