views updated Jun 08 2018


The iguana is a warm-climate lizard that has a long body covered with scales, a crest along its back, and short limbs ending in five digits. The common iguana (Iguana iguana), found in tropical America, is green. It may reach six and a half feet in length, including its tail. Extensively hunted for its chickenlike meat, it is very popular in Central American markets. An excellent swimmer, it drops into water if threatened by danger. The Rhinoceros iguana (Cyclura cornuta), extremely rare, inhabits the island of Hispaniola. It is so named for the three horns on its snout.

The Galápagos marine iguana (Amblyrhynchus cristatus) is black. The Hood Island iguana, which has reddish spots, is the only lizard known to feed in the surf, mainly on seaweed. During the mating season, each iguana has a carefully marked territory. If one male invades the territory of another, a long, nonfatal fight ensues. If a female iguana trespasses on the territory of another female, there is a bloody battle. An excellent swimmer, the Galápagos marine iguana spends time underwater and basking in the sun.

The Galápagos land iguana (Conolophus subcristatus) is a brown, quiet, inoffensive leaf eater that lives in dry, sparsely vegetated areas. It has a heavy body and strong limbs. The total length averages 43 inches, including a 24-inch tail. During the mating season, males fight ritual battles. This species is threatened with extinction due to hunting by humans, birds of prey, and introduced wild animals. It is strictly protected in the Galápagos National Park; eggs are collected and iguanas are raised at the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz Island in the Galápagos.

See alsoGalápagos Islands .


Baschieri Salvadori, Francesco B. Rare Animals of the World. New York: Mallard Press, 1990.

Bates, Marston. The Land and Wildlife of South America. New York: Time, 1964.

Patzelt, Erwin. Fauna del Ecuador. Quito: Banco Central del Ecuador, 1989.

                                               RaÚl CucalÓn


views updated May 11 2018

i·gua·na / iˈgwänə/ • n. a large, arboreal, tropical American lizard (genus Iguana, family Iguanidae), esp. the green iguana (I. iguana) with a spiny crest along the back and greenish coloration. ∎  any iguanid lizard.


views updated May 18 2018

Iguana ★★ 1989

The videocassette box art makes this look like a horror movie, but it's really a stiff, solemn period drama about a deformed sailor with lizardlike features. After a life of mistreatment he reigns mercilessly over a handful of island castaways. An international coproduction with mostly English dialogue, some Spanish and Portuguese with subtitles. 88m/C VHS, DVD . SI IT Everett McGill, Michael Madsen, Joseph Culp, Fabio Testi; D: Monte Hellman; W: Monte Hellman, Jaime Comas Gil, Steven Gaydos; C: Josep Civit.


views updated May 23 2018

iguana Any of numerous species of terrestrial, arboreal (tree-dwelling), burrowing or aquatic lizards that live in tropical America and the Galápagos Islands. The common iguana (Iguana iguana) is greenish-brown, with a serrated dewlap and a crest along its back. Length: to 2m (6.5ft). Family Iguanidae.


views updated May 29 2018

iguana large arboreal lizard. XVI. — Sp., of Carib orig.
Hence iguanodon large fossil lizard. XIX.