April 8, 2017

Iguana Identities

 We've had quite a few trips to the tropics (Mexico and Galapagos both) which had a few endemic species of iguanas, and Costa Rica was no slouch in this department either. As explained previously, Costa Rica has very diverse coasts which have been separated by mountains for quite some time, allowing for very different animals in different parts of the country. To begin, green iguanas like the one below, were a common sight in treetops on the Caribbean coast along many of the streams and rivers we visited. Fun facts: at 2m, they are the largest lizards in the country, the adults only go to ground to lay their eggs, and they are vegetarian AND would be unable to digest plants without symbiotic flora in their guts.
 At the smaller end of the spectrum, this helmeted iguana (the only one we saw) would cap out at 36cm in length and could theoretically be found on either coast. Fun fact: they apparently can be so stationary in their wait to ambush prey that small plants are known to grow on their heads as they wait. THAT is dedication to your means of hunting.
 Rounding out the set, spiny-tailed iguanas are found only on the pacific coast and have an in-betweeny length of around 130cm. They are the most sexually dimorphic of the three, with the females being almost entirely black and without the long crests of the male shown below. Fun fact: the males court females with a bizarre head-bobbing routine which we saw briefly from this individual and will hopefully be able to highlight in our video.

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