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Microlophus female.JPG
Microlophus albemarlensis, female, a Galápagos endemic
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Iguania
Family: Iguanidae
Alliance: Tropidurinae
Genus: Microlophus
A.M.C. Duméril & Bibron, 1837

around 20

Microlophus is a genus of tropidurid lizards native to South America. There are around twenty recognized species [a] and six of these are endemic to the Galápagos Islands where they are popularly known as lava lizards[2][1] (they are sometimes placed in Tropidurus instead). The remaining, which often are called Pacific iguanas, are found in the Andes and along the Pacific coasts of Chile, Peru, and Ecuador.

The distribution of the lava lizards and their variations in shape, colour and behaviour show the phenomenon of adaptive radiation so typical of the inhabitants of this archipelago. One species occurs on all the central and western islands, which were perhaps connected during periods of lower sea levels, while one species each occurs on six other more peripheral islands. All have most likely evolved from a single ancestral species. However, as usual for Tropiduridae they can change their colour individually to some extent, and members of the same species occurring in different habitats also show colour differences. Thus animals living mainly on dark lava are darker than ones which live in lighter, sandy environments.


Listed alphabetically by specific name.[3] (* endemic to the Galapágos Islands).

Nota bene: A binomial authority in parentheses indicates that the species was originally described in a genus other than Microlophus.


  1. ^ Some authors consider certain island populations of M. albemarlensis to be distinct species.[1]
  1. ^ a b Benavides E, Baum R, Snell HM, Snell HL, Sites JW Jr (2009). "Island Biogeography of Galápagos Lava Lizards (Tropiduridae: Microlophus): Species Diversity and Colonization of the Archipelago". (.pdf) Evolution 63 (6): 1606–1626.
  2. ^ Fitter J, Fitter D, Hosking D (2000). Wildlife of the Galalpagos. Updated Edition. Princeton University Press. p.94.
  3. ^ Microlophus. The Reptile Database. www.reptile-database.org.

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Duméril AMC, Bibron G (1837). Erpétologie générale ou Histoire naturelle complète des Reptiles. Tome quatrième [Volume 4]. Paris: Roret. ii + 571 pp. (Microlophus, new genus, pp. 334-335). (in French).