Sea Iguanas: These Lizards Have A Godzilla-Like Appearance

Marine iguanas are a unique species of lizard found exclusively in the Galapagos Islands, a remote archipelago located off the coast of Ecuador. These Godzilla-like lizards have many fascinating adaptations that allow them to thrive in the ʜᴀʀsʜ marine environment, making them one of the most unusual and iconic species of reptiles on the planet. The sea iguana of the Galapagos Islands is the only ocean-swimming lizard in the world. And if you’ve ever swam with these creatures, you’ll notice they look amazingly like Godzilla.

Marine iguanas possess features very similar to those of the legendary dragon, including a row of spines extending from the nape of the neck, along the back to the tail. The scales on the top of their heads are conical and pointed, they have short strong limbs and a stocky body. Their length usually ranges from 60 to 100cm and maximum weight is 11kg. Their size largely depends on the amount of food available on the island.

Unlike most lizards, which are strictly herbivorous or carnivorous, marine iguanas are omnivorous, feeding on a mix of seaweed and small aquatic invertebrates such as crabs, snails, and barnacles. They dive 30 feet deep into the ocean and can hold their breath for up to 45 minutes, allowing them to graze on the abundant marine vegetation on the island’s rocky shores.

This diet has led to many adaptations in marine iguanas, including their ability to expel salt from their bodies. Because seaweed is high in salt, marine iguanas have evolved a specialized gland in their nostrils that filters out excess salt and discharges it through their noses, earning them the nickname “snot dragons”. This adaptation allows marine iguanas to survive in a habitat that would be too salty for most other animals.

Another adaptation of marine iguanas is their ability to regulate their body temperature. Because the rocky shores where they live can be hot during the day and cold at night, marine iguanas bask in the sun to raise their body temperature and then swim in the cool ocean water to lower it. This unique behaviour allows them to maintain a stable body temperature in a constantly changing environment.

Unfortunately, marine iguanas also face ᴛʜʀᴇᴀᴛs to sᴜʀᴠɪᴠᴀʟ, such as habitat ᴅᴇsᴛʀᴜᴄᴛɪᴏɴ, climate change, and introduced predators, such as feral cats and rats. Conservation efforts are underway to protect these unique lizards and their fragile island ecosystem, but much work remains.

In conclusion, marine iguanas are a truly remarkable species of lizard, with a special diet, adaptations, and behaviours that allow them to thrive in the harsh marine environment of the Galapagos Islands. Although they may look like something out of a science fiction movie, they are very accurate and are an essential part of the biodiversity of the Galapagos. As with many other species worldwide, we must continue to protect and conserve marine iguanas and their fragile island home.

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