Short-Horned Lizard

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My good friend, Dave Rintoul, has just returned from a much-deserved vacation camping in the Chiricahuas and Gila Wilderness area and sent a couple images to share with you.


Greater Short-horned lizard, Phrynosoma hernandezi, in Chaco Canyon.
According to the photographer, this animal was a very cooperative subject.
(NOTE: This species was recently split into the greater and lesser short-horned lizards).
Image: Dave Rintoul, June 2008 [larger view].
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About GrrlScientist

grrlscientist is the pseudonym of an evolutionary biologist and ornithologist who writes about evolution, ethology, and ecology, especially in birds. After earning a degree in microbiology (thesis focus: virology) and working at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, she earned her PhD in zoology from the University of Washington in Seattle, where she studied the molecular correlates of testosterone and behaviour in white-crowned sparrows. She then worked a Chapman Postdoctoral Fellow at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where she studied the speciation and distribution of lories and other parrots throughout the South Pacific Islands. A discarded scientist, she returned to her roots: writing. Formerly hosted by The Guardian (UK), she now writes about science for Forbes and for the non-profit think tank, the Evolution Institute and she writes podcasts for BirdNote Radio. An avid lifelong birder and aviculturist, she lives with a flock of songbirds and parrots somewhere in Germany.
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0 Responses to Short-Horned Lizard

  1. Sheri says:

    Splendid! Looks a little like Edward G. Robinson, don’t ya think? Horned lizards have been some of my favorite critters since I was a tiny toddler in Texas, but their populations have declined so much that I doubt many youngsters growing up in the Southwest these days have the same opportunities to see them that I did.

  2. Sheri already said part of what I was going to, about the horned lizards being so common in Texas and the rest of the Southwest a few decades ago. They were commonly, but incorrectly, known as “horn toads” or “horny toads.”
    It is widely believed and reported in usually reliable sources that at least four species of this lizard can shoot a directed stream of blood from the corner of each eye for a distance of about a meter to ward off predators. I’ve never personally witnessed this, but it is apparently true.
    They began dying out about the same time the imported fire ants from South America reached this area, and a connection is usually assumed. One hypothesis is that the new species of ant are poisonous to the horned lizards, and ants are their primary food. Another possiblity is that the fire ants eat the eggs of the horned lizard. I am not aware of the research being done to verify either of these hypotheses, but I would like to hear about it if it has been.

  3. Chris' Wills says:

    #2 Bill,
    These links give some information on why they are declining.
    Fire ants are involved as are humans.
    See Q.6 for some possible reasons
    more reasons the horny toads are declining
    more general information