Iguana

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Iguana
Portrait of an Iguana.jpg
Green iguana (Iguana iguana)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Iguania
Family: Iguanidae
Genus: Iguana
Laurenti, in 1768
Species

Iguana (/ɪˈɡwɑːnə/,[1][2] Spanish: [iˈɣwana]) is a genus of omnivorous lizards native to tropical areas of Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. The genus was first described in 1768 by Austrian naturalist Josephus Nicolaus Laurenti in his book Specimen Medicum, Exhibens Synopsin Reptilium Emendatam cum Experimentis circa Venena. Two species are included in the genus Iguana: the green iguana, which is widespread throughout its range and a popular pet, and the Lesser Antillean iguana, which is native to the Lesser Antilles and endangered due to habitat destruction.

The word "iguana" is derived from the original Taino name for the species, iwana.[3]

In addition to the two species in the genus Iguana, several other related genera in the same family have common names of the species including the word "iguana".

Anatomy and physiology[edit]

Green iguana cadaver, with dewlap extended.

Iguanas can range from 1.5 to 1.8 metres (5 to 6 ft) in length, including their tail. The two species of lizard within the genus Iguana possess a dewlap, a row of spines running down their backs to their tails, and a tiny "third eye" on their heads. This light-sensing organ is known as the parietal eye, visible as a pale scale on the top of the head, and cannot make out details, just brightness. Behind their necks are small scales which resemble spokes, known as tuberculate scales. These scales may be a variety of colors and are not always visible from close distances. They have a large round scale on their cheeks known as a sub-tympanic shield.[4]

Iguanas have keen vision and can see shapes, shadows, colors, and movement at long distances. Their visual acuity enables them to navigate through crowded forests and to locate food. They employ visual signals to communicate with other members of the same species.[4]

The tympanum, the iguana's eardrum, is located above the sub-tympanic shield (or "ear shield") behind each eye. Iguanas are often hard to spot, as they tend to blend into their surroundings and their coloration enables them to hide from larger predators.[4]

Like most reptiles, an iguana has a three-chambered heart with two atria, one ventricle, and two aortae with a systemic circulation.[5]

Male iguanas, like other male examples of Squamata, have two hemipenes.

Skull morphology and diet[edit]

Iguanas have an exclusively herbivorous diet[6], as illustrated above by a Green Iguana eating Magnifera indica in Venezuela.

Iguanas have developed a herbivorous lifestyle, foraging exclusively on vegetation and foliage[6]. In order to acquire, process, and digest plant matter, herbivorous lizards must have a higher bite force relative to their size in comparison to carnivorous or omnivorous reptiles. The skull of the iguana has undergone modifications resulting in a strong bite force and efficient processing of vegetation, according to one study.[7]

In order to accomplish this biomechanically, herbivorous lizards (such as the iguana) have taller and wider skulls, shorter snouts, and larger bodies relative to carnivorous and omnivorous reptiles.[7] Increasing the robusticity of the skull allows for increased muscle presence and increases the ability of the skull to withstand stronger forces.[8]

Green Iguana skull (Iguana iguana).jpg: Brian Gratwicke derivative work: B kimmel (talk)
Green Iguana skull and teeth. The teeth of the Green Iguana sit on the surface of the jawbone, known as acrodontal placement.[9]

Furthermore, the teeth of the iguana are acrodontal, meaning that their teeth sit on top of the surface of the jaw bone[9] and project upwards. The teeth themselves are small and serrated - designed to grasp and shear food.[10]

Images[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cambridge Dictionary
  2. ^ Oxford Dictionaries
  3. ^ Coles, William (2002), "Green Iguana" (PDF), U.S.V.I. Animal Fact Sheet #08, Department of Planning and Natural Resources US Virgin Islands Division of Fish and Wildlife 
  4. ^ a b c Lazell, J.D. (1973), "The lizard genus Iguana in the Lesser Antilles", Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, New York, 145, pp. 1–28 
  5. ^ DABVP, Ryan S. De Voe DVM MSpVM DACZM. "Reptilian cardiovascular anatomy and physiology: evaluation and monitoring (Proceedings)". dvm360.com. Retrieved 2017-05-13. 
  6. ^ a b Lichtenbelt, Wouter D. van Marken (1993-08-01). "Optimal foraging of a herbivorous lizard, the green iguana in a seasonal environment". Oecologia. 95 (2): 246–256. doi:10.1007/BF00323497. ISSN 0029-8549. 
  7. ^ a b Metzger, Keith A.; Herrel, Anthony (2005-12-01). "Correlations between lizard cranial shape and diet: a quantitative, phylogenetically informed analysis". Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 86 (4): 433–466. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8312.2005.00546.x. ISSN 0024-4066. 
  8. ^ Herrel, Anthony (2009). "Jaw and hyolingual muscle activity patterns and bite forces in the herbivorous lizard Uromastyx acanthinurus". Archives of Oral Biology. 54: 772–782. 
  9. ^ a b "THE TEETH OF VERTEBRATE ANIMALS". inside.ucumberlands.edu. University of the Cumberlands. =April 28, 2017. Retrieved April 28, 2017.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  10. ^ Banzato, Tommaso; Selleri, Paolo; Veladiano, Irene A.; Martin, Andrea; Zanetti, Emanuele; Zotti, Alessandro (2012-01-01). "Comparative evaluation of the cadaveric, radiographic and computed tomographic anatomy of the heads of green iguana (Iguana iguana) , common tegu ( Tupinambis merianae) and bearded dragon ( Pogona vitticeps)". BMC Veterinary Research. 8: 53. doi:10.1186/1746-6148-8-53. ISSN 1746-6148. PMC 3439268Freely accessible. PMID 22578088. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Frost, D.E. and R.E. Etheridge (1989) A Phylogenetic Analysis and Taxonomy of Iguanian Lizards (Reptilia: Squamata). Univ. Kansas Mus. Nat. Hist. Misc. Publ. 81
  • Frost, D.R., R. Etheridge, D. Janies and T.A. Titus (2001) Total evidence, sequence alignment, evolution of Polychrotid lizards, and a reclassification of the Iguania (Squamata: Iguania). American Museum Novitates 3343: 38 pp.