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Peninsular chuckwalla

The peninsular chuckwalla (Sauromalus australis) is a lizard belonging to the family Iguanidae. It is in the same genus as the other chuckwalla species. S. australis inhabits southeastern Baja California and eastern Baja California Sur in Mexico.[3]

Taxonomy and etymology[edit]

The generic name, Sauromalus, is a combination of two Ancient Greek words:σαῦρος (sauros) meaning "lizard". and ομαλυς (omalus) meaning "flat".[4] Its specific name is derived from the Latin australis, meaning "southern wind", as it inhabits the southern portion of the Baja peninsula.[5] The common name chuckwalla derives from the Shoshone word "tcaxxwal" or Cahuilla "caxwal", transcribed by Spaniards as "chacahuala".[4]

The species was first described by herpetologist Charles E. Shaw in 1945.[2]


Peninsular chuckwallas are a stocky wide-bodied lizard with a flattened midsection and prominent belly.[2] Their tails are thick, tapering to a blunt tip. Loose folds of skin characterize the neck and sides of the body, which is covered in small, coarsely moderately keeled scales. Their base color is with tan to yellow with darker brown or black transverse bands, the centers of which are speckled with the lighter ground color, giving a double striped look from a distance.[2]

Males are generally larger than females and possess well-developed femoral pores located on the inner sides of their thighs; these pores produce secretions believed to play a role in marking territory.


  1. ^ "Sauromalus australis". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 15 September 2008. 
  2. ^ a b c d Shaw, Charles E (1945). "The chuckwallas, Genus Sauromalus". Transactions of the San Diego Society of Natural History 10 (=15): 269–306. 
  3. ^ Bartlett, R.D.; Patricia Bartlett (2003). Iguanas: Everything about Selection, Care, Nutrition, Diseases, Breeding, and Behavior (2 ed.). Barron's. p. 86. ISBN 978-0-7641-1993-4. 
  4. ^ a b Schwenkmeyer, Dick. "Sauromalus ater Common Chuckwalla". Field Guide. San Diego Natural History Museum. Retrieved 17 September 2008. 
  5. ^ Hollingsworth, Bradford D. (2004). "The Evolution of Iguanas an Overview and a Checklist of Species". Iguanas: Biology and Conservation (University of California Press). pp. 43–44. ISBN 978-0-520-23854-1. 

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