IGUANA, ig-wii'nft (Sp., from the Ilaitian name, iguana, hivana, yuana). A genus of trop ical American lizards, representing the family Iguanid:r. of which there are about 55 genera and 235 or more species. In external and internal structure iguanas closely resemble the Agamithe of the Old World and are distinguished mainly by the pleurodont dentition. The tongue is thick and vinous. All the North American forms pos sess femoral pores, but few of the South Ameri can species have them. In habits also the lguani (he closely resemble the Agamidw, save that there are no flying forms to correspond with the flying dragon of the Agamithe, while in America some of the iguanas. such as Anolis, have digital ex pansions, and others are semi-marine, neither of which conditions is met with in the Old World family. The family contains several of the larg est lizards. lost of the species are arboreal, but some of them live on the surface of the sand and stones of the desert, and have a depressed form. Several species live wholly, or almost wholly, on vegetable food—the blossoms and leaves of plants. For this reason the flesh of sev eral of them. especially of the genus iguana, is very palatable, is sought by the natives of Cen tral and South America as food, and is sold in their markets in considerable quantity. One of the species most eaten is Iguana tubcrculata, repulsive looking lizard, with a high, dorsal, fringed ridge. and a large dewlap (see Plate). It basks on the limbs of trees during the warm hours, and while thus situated seems rather in different to the approach of man. It is fond of music, and of having the body stroked. The na tives take advantage of these facts, and whistle a lively tune as they -approach, and when near enough stroke the sides of the iguana with a stick until they succeed in getting a noose over its head. (Consult Belt, Naturalist in Nicaragua, London. MS.) The natives also dig them out of their burrows or chase them into trees with dogs trained for the purpose. On the Galapagos Islands there is a semi-aquatic genus, Ambly rhyuchus, whose species feed on seaweeds along shore. This lizard is described in detail by Dar
win, in chapter 5 of his Naturalist's Voyage (London. 1860). There are other species of the same genus that live for months without water by feeding on the succulent cactus. The great iguana of Jamaica, with the prominent serrate crest, is Cuelura lophonla. In the Southwestern United States, from western Kansas to southern California and Mexico, dwell several genera of green, (lark gray, or brown iguanid lizards. such as Uta, Ilolbpookin Ctenosaura, and Cro taphytus. (See COLLARED LIZARD.) The large genus Secloporus (see ALLIGATOR LIZARD) ranges not only over the western and central part of the United States, but in all the Eastern and Gulf States as far north as New Jersey and Indiana. Another widely distributed genus. Anolis. has two representatives in the South Atlantic States, popularly called 'chameleons.' (See ANOLIS.) These lizards possess mimicry of color in a re markable degree, and have a considerable power of changing their color. They are insectivorous, and the wanton destruction of them is much to be deplored, for in their native habitats they are of considerable economic importance to agri culture. To this family belongs also the basilisk of Central and South America, so named on ac count of its fancied resemblance to the creature of fable. (See BASILISK.) It is a large, harm less lizard, found no further north than South ern Mexico. The family also includes those pecu liar, spiny, short-tailed, flattened lizards, known as 'horned toads' (q.v.).
Consult: Boulenger, Catalogue of Lizards of the British Museum (London, ISS5) ; Cope, Croc odilians, Lizards, and Snakes (Smithsonian Insti tution. Washington, 1900) ; Stejneger, Death Val ley Expedition, (Department of Agriculture, Washington, 1893) : Kingsley (editor), Standard Natural History, vol. iii. (Boston, 1SS5) ; Gadow, ii,nphibia and Reptiles (New York, 1901). See