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Microlophus female.JPG
Microlophus albemarlensis, female, a Galápagos endemic
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Tropiduridae
Genus: Microlophus
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.[3] (* endemic to the Galapágos Islands).


  1. ^ Some authors consider certain island populations of M. albemarlensis to be distinct species.[1]
  1. ^ a b Benavides,E; Baum, R.; Snell, H. M.; Snell, H. L.; and Sites, Jr., J. W. (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; and Hosking, D. (2000) Wildlife of the Galalpagos. Updated Edition. Princeton University Press. p.94.
  3. ^ Microlophus, Reptile Database

External links[edit]