Gallotia goliath

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Gallotia goliath
Gallotia goliath skull.JPG
Skull in Museo de la Naturaleza y el Hombre of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Lacertidae
Genus: Gallotia
Species: G. goliath
Binomial name
Gallotia goliath
Mertens, 1942
  • Gallotia maxima Bravo, 1953
  • Lacerta maxima Bravo, 1953[1]
  • Lacerta goliath Mertens, 1942

Gallotia goliath (the goliath Tenerife lizard[2]) is an extinct giant lizard species from the island of Tenerife of the Canary Islands, Spain. This reptile lived before the arrival of humans and is believed to have grown to at least 0.9 metres (3.0 ft) long.[3] It was described by the German herpetologist Robert Mertens. Fossils of this lizard have been found in volcanic caves, where they often appear with those of other animals, like the Tenerife giant rat.


Prehistoric Gallotia remains have been assigned to the taxa G. maxima and G. goliath, the former supposedly occurring only on Tenerife, the latter on several islands. It was eventually determined, however, that G. maxima is a junior synonym of G. goliath, and that the latter was close to the El Hierro giant lizard (Gallotia simonyi); supposed goliath specimens from El Hierro, La Gomera, and La Palma (from the Cuevas de los Murciélagos) are probably just extremely large individuals of, respectively, the El Hierro, La Gomera (Gallotia bravoana) and La Palma (Gallotia auaritae) giant lizards.[4] Based on DNA sequence analysis of mummified remains, G. goliath is a valid species that probably was restricted to Tenerife, and apparently was closer to the Tenerife speckled lizard (Gallotia intermedia) than to the El Hierro giant lizard.[5]


G. goliath was the largest reptile in the Canary Islands, reaching a length of 120 to 125 cm, but based on the finding of a 13.5 cm skull in 1952, there could have been even larger specimens. These giant lizards inhabited the coastal lowlands of the island.[6]


It inhabited Tenerife through the Holocene until the fifteenth century of our era. Bone remains of this species have been found in different archaeological sites with marks that show that they were consumed by the aborigines of the island (Guanches). There is written documentation about its existence in the fifteenth century, so its extinction must have occurred in the years after the conquest of the Canaries by the Castilians.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bravo, Telésforo. Lacerta maxima n. sp. de la fauna continental extinguida del Pleistoceno de las Canarias. Instituto "Lucas Mallada" de Investigaciones Geológicas, 1953.
  2. ^ The Recently Extinct Plants and Animals Database Extinct Reptiles: Gallotia goliath
  3. ^ Barahona et al., 2000, p. 381
  4. ^ Barahona et al., 2000
  5. ^ Maca-Meyer et al., 2003
  6. ^ Aportaciones de D. Telesforo Bravo al conocimiento de la fauna de vertebrados terrestres de las islas Canarias


  • Barahona, F.; Evans, S. E.; Mateo, J. A.; García-Márquez, M.; López-Jurado, L. F. (March 2000). "Endemism, gigantism and extinction in island lizards: the genus Gallotia on the Canary Islands". Journal of Zoology. 250 (3): 373–388. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.2000.tb00781.x. 
  • Maca-Meyer, N.; Carranza, S.; Rando, J. C.; Arnold, E. N.; Cabrera, V. M. (1 December 2003). "Status and relationships of the extinct giant Canary Island lizard Gallotia goliath (Reptilia: Lacertidae), assessed using ancient mtDNA from its mummified remains". Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 80 (4): 659–670. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8312.2003.00265.x.