Year of 2017

Marine iguanas in the Galápagos Islands

Unlike your average iguanas, the marine iguanas pictured here are graceful swimmers that boast a unique ability to forage in the sea. And since it’s Grandparent’s Day, here’s some family history: It’s believed they evolved from their land-roaming relatives about 10 million years ago. They’re only found in the Galápagos Islands, where they failed to impress some early European explorers. Charles Darwin described the lizards as clumsy ‘imps of darkness.’ We think they’re cute.

The marine iguana, also known as the Galápagos marine iguana, is a species of iguana found only on the Galápagos Islands that has the ability, unique among modern lizards, to forage in the sea, making it a marine reptile. This iguana feeds almost exclusively on algae and large males dive to find this food source, while females and smaller males feed during low tide in the intertidal zone. They mainly live in colonies on rocky shores where they warm after visiting the relatively cold water or intertidal zone, but can also be seen in marshes, mangrove and beaches.
Scientific name: Amblyrhynchus cristatus
Length: 23.62 inch (60 cm) – 39.37 inch (100 cm) (Female)
Biological classification: Species
Belongs to: Iguana · Amblyrhynchus
Amblyrhynchus cristatus distribution map
Marine iguana distribution map