alligator lizard

alligator lizard
any of several lizards of the genera Algaria and Gerrhonotus, of western North America, having shinglelike scales and a fold along each side that permits expansion.

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 any of 42 lizard species in the subfamily Gerrhonotinae of the family Anguidae in any of the following genera: Abronia, Barisia, Elgaria, Gerrhonotus, and Mesaspis. Alligator lizards are found from southern British Columbia and the northwestern United States through Mexico and Central America to Panama. Abronia, Barisia, and Mesaspis are largely tropical or subtropical in distribution, whereas Elgaria and Gerrhonotus inhabit the northern temperate zone. Although most alligator lizards appear superficially similar in body structure, some are stout with short tails (Abronia and Barisia), whereas others are more slender with long tails (Elgaria, Gerrhonotus, and Mesaspis). All alligator lizards have rather short limbs. The presence of a fold of skin along the lower edge of the side of the body distinguishes these animals from many other lizards. Large scales (scale) provide armour for the head, body, and tail. In addition, alligator lizards possess a chemosensory system (chemoreception) keen enough to determine which insects and spiders are edible (that is, free from high levels of toxins (toxin)).

      The largest alligator lizard is the smooth-headed alligator lizard (G. liocephalus), and its body alone can reach 20 cm (8 inches). Although many alligator lizards are dull brown or gray, some are brightly coloured. Cope's arboreal alligator lizard (A. aurita), for example, is mottled green with scales on the head and neck that are highlighted with yellow and orange. Alligator lizards have powerful jaws and will bite if handled roughly.

Laurie Vitt

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Alligator lizard — may refer to one of the following:Species of the genus Elgaria : *Northern Alligator Lizard *Southern Alligator LizardSpecies of the genus Gerrhonotus .Species of the genus Abronia (Arboreal alligator lizards) …   Wikipedia

  • alligator lizard — noun slim short limbed lizard having a distinctive fold on each side that permits expansion; of western North America • Hypernyms: ↑anguid lizard • Member Holonyms: ↑Gerrhonotus, ↑genus Gerrhonotus …   Useful english dictionary

  • alligator lizard — noun a heavily built slow moving lizard native to North America and Mexico. [Genus Gerrhonotus: several species.] …   English new terms dictionary

  • Northern Alligator Lizard — Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia Phylum …   Wikipedia

  • Southern Alligator Lizard — Taxobox name = Southern Alligator Lizard status = LC | status system = IUCN3.1 regnum = Animalia phylum = Chordata classis = Reptilia ordo = Squamata familia = Anguidae genus = Elgaria species = E. multicarinata binomial = Elgaria multicarinata… …   Wikipedia

  • MonteCristo Arboreal Alligator Lizard — Taxobox name = MonteCristo Arboeral Alligator Lizard status = CR | status system = IUCN2.3 trend = down image width = 240px regnum = Animalia phylum = Chordata classis = Reptilia ordo = Squamata familia = Anguidae genus = Abronia species = A.… …   Wikipedia

  • Monte Cristo Arboreal Alligator Lizard — MonteCristo Arboeral Alligator Lizard Conservation status Critically Endangered (IUCN 2.3)[1] …   Wikipedia

  • Panamint Alligator Lizard — Taxobox name = Panamint Alligator Lizard status = VU | status system = IUCN3.1 regnum = Animalia phylum = Chordata classis = Reptilia ordo = Squamata familia = Anguidae genus = Elgaria species = E. panamintina binomial = Elgaria panamintina… …   Wikipedia

  • lizard — /liz euhrd/, n. 1. any of numerous scaly reptiles of the suborder Sauria, order Squamata, typically having a moderately elongate body, a tapering tail, and two pairs of legs held outward from the body, comprising mostly terrestrial and burrowing… …   Universalium

  • Alligator — Al li*ga tor, n. [Sp. el lagarto the lizard (el lagarto de Indias, the cayman or American crocodile), fr. L. lacertus, lacerta, lizard. See {Lizard}.] 1. (Zo[ o]l.) A large carnivorous reptile of the Crocodile family, peculiar to America. It has… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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