views updated May 21 2018

Lacertidae (‘true’ lizards; order Squamata, suborder Sauria) A family of small, agile lizards, all of which have well-developed legs and long tails capable of autotomy. The head plates are fused to the skull bones. The 32 species in the genus Lacerta are typical. They have tiny dorsal scales, increasing in size on the flanks, broad, smooth, ventral plates, a well defined scaly collar, and in males of most species the hemipenis has small, sulcal lips. L. vivipara (common lizard or viviparous lizard) is ovoviviparous; usually brown or grey-brown with darker and lighter spots and often a dark vertebral stripe, it grows to 18 cm. L. agilis (sand lizard), with large, brown, dorsal blotches and, in the male, green flanks, grows to 25 cm. In L. viridis (green lizard) the male is green, stippled with black, the female green or brown and sometimes striated; it is a large, stocky lizard that grows to 40 cm. The largest European lizard is L. lepida (eyed lizard or ocellated lizard) which grows up to 70 cm; the body is thick and has 13–24 blue spots on each flank. Podarcis species (wall lizards) of Europe, N. Africa, and the Near East, are similar to lacertids, their common name referring to their habit of basking on walls. P. muralis (wall lizard) occurs naturally in Jersey and colonies have been introduced in mainland Britain; P. sicula (Italian wall lizard or ruin lizard) is common in Italy. There are more than 200 species in the family, occurring in Europe, Asia, and Africa, some within the Arctic Circle.


views updated Jun 08 2018

Podarcis (wall lizards) See LACERTIDAE.