|A green iguana (Iguana iguana)|
The word "iguana" is derived from the original
The species is a popular quarry for
Anatomy and physiology
Iguanas are large
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.
Iguanas are often hard to spot, as they tend to blend into their surroundings, and their coloration enables them to hide from larger predators.
Several species of lizards, including the iguanas, have a pale scale towards the back of their heads marking the parietal eye. This organ is sensitive to changes in illumination and sends signals to the pineal gland noting the change between day and night. A photopigment commonly found in the lamprey, known as parapinopsin, is also found in the iguana, and is sensitive to ultraviolet light and aids in the signaling between day and night.
Skull morphology and diet
Iguanas have developed an
Furthermore, the teeth of the iguana are acrodontal, meaning that their teeth sit on top of the surface of the jaw bone and project upwards. The teeth themselves are small and serrated - designed to grasp and shear food.
Male iguanas, like other male examples of Squamata, have two hemipenes. During copulation, one hemipenis is inserted into the female's cloacal vent. A female can store sperm from previous mates for several years to continue to fertilize her eggs in case she finds no male within her territory when she is ready to lay again.
Iguanas tend to follow a promiscuous or
A phylogeny based on nuclear protein-coding genes, reviewed by Vidal and Hedges (2009), suggested that the subclade Iguania is in a group with snakes and anguimorphs (lizards). These groups share an oral gland capable of secreting toxins (a derived trait). The phylogeny based on whole mitochondrial genomes, though, as proposed by Rest et al. (2003), places the green iguana as the closest relative of the mole skink (Plestiodon egregius). Lepidosaurs are reptiles with overlapping scales, and within this group both iguanians and tuataras (Sphenodon) project their tongues to seize prey items instead of using their jaws, which is called tongue prehension. Iguanians are the only lineage within the Squamata that display this trait, meaning that it was gained independently in both iguanians and tuataras. Iguanians are also the only squamates that primarily use their sight to identify and track prey rather than chemoreception or scent, and employ an ambush technique of catching prey instead of active searching.
A study by Breuil et al. (2020) found the taxonomy of the genus Iguana as follows, with I. delicatissima being the most basal member of the group. The species are classified as subspecies based on the ReptileDatabase definitions.
The Reptile Database synonymizes I. rhinolopha with I. iguana, only considering it a distinctive population, and recognizes I. insularis and I. melanoderma as subspecies of I. iguana. Four subspecies of green iguana are recognized under this treatment: I. i. insularis (Saint Vincent & the Grenadines and Grenada), I. i. sanctaluciae (Saint Lucia), I. i. melanoderma (parts of the northern Lesser Antilles, and potentially coastal Venezuela, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico), and I. i. iguana (mainland South America).
Two extant species in the genus Iguana are widely recognized.
|Image||Scientific name||Common name||Distribution|
|Iguana delicatissima||Lesser Antillean iguana||The |
Saint Barth, Anguilla, Sint Eustatius, Guadeloupe, Dominica, and Martinique
|Iguana iguana||Green iguana||Most of |
Three Caribbean subspecies of the green iguana are also recognized:
|I. i. insularis||Grenadines horned iguana||St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada|
|Iguana iguana melanoderma||Saban black iguana||Saba, Montserrat, and formerly Redonda, but also possibly coastal Venezuela, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico (at least parts of this range may derive from (pre)historic introductions).|
|I. i. sanctaluciae||Saint Lucia horned iguana||St. Lucia|
The Central American iguana (I. rhinolopha or I. i. rhinolopha), sometimes considered a distinct species, is largely considered synonymous with I. iguana, as the presence of horns does not necessarily indicate a new species or subspecies. The two described subspecies of I. insularis (the Saint Lucia horned iguana, I. i. sanctaluciae, and the Grenadines horned iguana, I. i. insularis) were originally described as subspecies of I. iguana, although they are genetically very similar and may not be separate subspecies from one another. Recent studies have recovered I. rhinolopha and I. insularis as distinct species based on genetics, but the Reptile Database disagrees with these conclusions, and classifies I. rhinolopha as synonymous with I. iguana, and I. insularis as a subspecies of I. iguana. The Curaçao population of green iguanas shows major genetic divergence and may also represent an as-of-yet undescribed species or subspecies.
Iguanas have historically featured in the culinary traditions of Mexico and Central America. Iguana meat is also consumed in parts of the United States and Puerto Rico. Also, the eggs of iguana are consumed in some parts of Latin America, such as Nicaragua and Colombia.
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- Media related to Iguanaat Wikimedia Commons