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New Mexico whiptail

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New Mexico whiptail
New Mexico whiptail (Aspidoscelis neomexicanus)
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Teiidae
Genus: Aspidoscelis
A. neomexicanus
Binomial name
Aspidoscelis neomexicanus
Lowe & Zweifel, 1952

Cnemidophorus perplexus
Baird & Girard, 1852
Cnemidophorus neomexicanus
Lowe & Zweifel, 1952

The New Mexico whiptail (Aspidoscelis neomexicanus) is a female-only species of lizard found in New Mexico and Arizona in the southwestern United States, and in Chihuahua in northern Mexico. It is the official state reptile of New Mexico.[2] It is one of many lizard species known to be parthenogenetic. Individuals of the species can be created either through the hybridization of the little striped whiptail (A. inornatus) and the western whiptail (A. tigris),[3] or through the parthenogenetic reproduction of an adult New Mexico whiptail.

The hybridization of these species prevents healthy males from forming, whereas males exist in one parent species (see Sexual differentiation). Parthenogenesis allows the all-female population to reproduce. This combination of interspecific hybridization and parthenogenesis exists as a reproductive strategy in several species of whiptail lizard within the genus Aspidoscelis to which the New Mexico whiptail belongs.


The New Mexico whiptail grows from 6.5 to 9.1 in (16.5 to 23 cm) in length, and is typically overall brown or black in color with seven pale yellow stripes from head to tail. Light colored spots often occur between the stripes. They have a white or pale blue underside, with a blue or blue-green colored throat. They are slender bodied, with a long tail that is more commonly blue-green in their infant stage, melding into the same spotted brown and yellow color as they age.


Like most other whiptail lizards, the New Mexico whiptail is diurnal and insectivorous. They are wary, energetic, and fast moving, darting for cover if approached. They are found in a wide variety of semi-arid habitats, including grassland, rocky areas, shrubland, or mountainside woodlands. Reproduction occurs through parthenogenesis, with up to four unfertilized eggs being laid in mid summer, and hatching approximately eight weeks later.

The New Mexico whiptail lizard is a crossbreed of a western whiptail, which lives in the desert, and the little striped whiptail, which favors grasslands. The whiptail engages in mating behavior with other females of its own species, giving rise to the nickname "lesbian lizards".[4][5] A common theory is that this behavior stimulates ovulation, as those that do not "mate" do not lay eggs.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hammerson, G.A.; Lavin, P.; Vazquez Díaz, J.; Quintero Díaz, G.; Gadsden, H. (2007). "Aspidoscelis neomexicana". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2007: e.T64278A12752324. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2007.RLTS.T64278A12752324.en. Retrieved 17 May 2023.
  2. ^ "Chapter VIII. New Mexico state animals" (PDF). New Mexico Envirothon. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 14, 2011. Retrieved January 22, 2011.
  3. ^ Lowe, Charles H.; Wright, John W. (1966). "Evolution of parthenogenetic species of Cnemidophorus (whiptail lizards) in western North America". Journal of the Arizona Academy of Science. 4 (2): 81–87. JSTOR 40022375.
  4. ^ "BBC Two - Battle of the Sexes - In the Animal World, THE RIDDLE OF SEX, Lesbian lizards". BBC. 10 March 2010. Retrieved 2021-11-14.
  5. ^ Spinney, Kimberley (2015-06-15). "Lesbian Lizards a Hybrid Species Out of New Mexico". Guardian Liberty Voice. Retrieved 2021-11-14.
  6. ^ Crews, David (1987). "Courtship in unisexual lizards: A model for brain evolution". Scientific American. 257 (6): 116–121. Bibcode:1987SciAm.257f.116C. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican1287-116. JSTOR 24979584.