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An Eye on Wildlife

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Turnip-tailed Lizards

January 25, 2016

Turnip-tailed Lizards

- as seen by -

Andrew Kathriner Andrew Kathriner

Known only from a few localities in the arid habitats of northern Somalia and Ethiopia, the rare Taylor’s shield-tailed agama lizards (a hatchling, above) of the genus Xenagama are a popular attraction at the Bronx Zoo’s World of Reptiles lizard diversity wall.

What merits their position on the wall is their unique tail anatomy that provides a suitable defense against predators. The tail is characterized as being short, stumpy, and shaped like a shield, giving them the name “turnip-tailed lizards.”

In addition to their bizarre tail, another trait that draws wondering eyes to them is unique colors displayed by the males when trying to attract females. Only in the presence of females will the males fire up and express an intense blue coloration under their chin appearing as if they fell into a jar of blueberry jam.

Nikon D4

Bronx, USA Map It


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