In The Desert
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Mojave Fringe-toed Lizard
One of the most unusual lizards found in the desert southwest. Greg Watson seems to be a master at capturing unusual plants and animals in our desert eco system. His photos are always top notch in the regards that he captures the neat / different aspects of whatever he photographing at the time. This lizard is no exception. Looking at the above photo this looks like any other lizard, except the markings are different. So what is different and unusual about this lizard - keep reading.....
Mojave fringe-toed lizards have numerous traits tailored to their sand-dwelling lifestyle. Foremost are the lizards' scaly front and hind toes, which resemble snowshoes and keep them from sinking as they sprint away from predators. Top Mojave fringe-toed lizard speeds have been clocked at 23 miles per hour - no small feat on loose, windblown sand dunes. These lizards plunge into the sand to hide from enemies, yet there they lie most vulnerable, still within reach of off-road vehicles' sand-digging tires. More photos below....
Diet and Feeding Eats primarily small invertebrates such as ants, beetles, and grasshoppers, along with occasional blossoms, leaves, and seeds. The consumption of plant material may inadvertently occur when a lizard is eating insects. Adults will also eat lizard hatchlings. More scientific information below, along with more photos....
Mouse over this photo to see the Parietal "EYE"
The parietal eye is a photo sensory organ connected to the pineal body, active in triggering hormone production (including reproduction) and thermo regulation. It is sensitive to changes in light and dark, it does not form images, having only a rudimentary retina and lens. Is this strange or what?
Size: 2 3/4 to 4 1/5 inches long from snout to vent (7 - 11.4 cm).
The tail is about the same length as the body. A medium-sized, flat-bodied, smooth-skinned lizard that inhabits areas of loose sand.
A countersunk lower jaw, eyelids that overlap, flaps over the ears, and nostrils and nasal passages which work like valves, all prevent sand from getting into a lizard's orifices and lungs. Inhabits areas of fine windblown sand in the Mohave Desert from the southern end of Death Valley south to the Colorado River around Blythe, and into extreme western Arizona.
Greg Watson photographed the Mojave Fringe-toed LIzard in the Kelso Dunes, Devil's Playground, Mojave National Preserve, California. Thanks Greg for sharing these great photos.