Horned lizard

Taxobox
name = Horned Lizards


image_caption = Short-horned Lizard
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Sauropsida
ordo = Squamata
familia = Phrynosomatidae
genus = "Phrynosoma"
genus_authority = Wiegmann, 1828
subdivision_ranks = Species
subdivision = See text.

Horned lizards ("Phrynosoma") are a genus of the Phrynosomatidae family of lizards. The horned lizard is popularly called a "horned toad," "horny toad", or "horned frog," but it is neither a toad nor a frog. The popular names come from the lizard's rounded body and blunt snout, which make it resemble a toad or frog. ("Phrynosoma" literally means "toad-bodied.") The spines on its back and sides are made from modified scales, whereas the horns on the heads are true horns (i.e. they have a "horny" core). There are 14 species of horned lizards in North America, 8 of which are native to the United States. The largest-bodied and most widely distributed of the U.S. species is the Texas horned lizard ("P. cornutum").

Description

Horned lizards are morphologically similar to the Australian thorny devil ("Moloch horridus"), but are only distantly related. They also have other unique similarities, such as being sit-and-wait predators and preying upon ants, and so the two species are considered a great example of convergent evolution.

Protection against predation

Horned lizards use a wide variety of means to avoid predation. Their coloration generally serves as camouflage. When threatened, their first defense is to remain still and hope to avoid detection. If approached too closely, they generally run in short bursts and stop abruptly to confuse the predator's visual acuity. If this fails, they puff up their body to cause it to look more horny, making it appear larger and more difficult to swallow. At least four species are also able to squirt an aimed stream of blood from the corners of the eyes for a distance of up to 3 feet. They do this by restricting the blood flow leaving the head, thereby increasing blood pressure and rupturing tiny vessels around the eyelids. This not only confuses predators, but also the blood tastes foul to canine and feline predators. It appears to have no effect against predatory birds. To avoid being picked up by the head or neck, horned lizards duck or elevate their head and orient their cranial horns straight up, or back. If a predator tries to take it by the body, the lizard drives that side of its body down into the ground so that the predator cannot easily get its lower jaw underneath the lizard.

Diet and decline

The diet of most horned lizards species varies from 60-90% harvester ant of the genus "Pogonomyrmex", though they are opportunistic and supplement these with termites, beetles, crickets, grasshoppers and other small insects.

In California, Texas, and other states, horned lizards are considered threatened and given state protection, though none are on the federal endangered species list. The Texas horned lizard has declined in about 30% of its range, though there is some indication it may be making a comeback. Some California species are also in decline. The decline is usually blamed on development/destruction of habitat, the spread of non-native South American ants which compete and war with the harvester ant, and the overuse of pesticides which kill harvester ants. In California, the introduced species is the Argentine ant. [cite news | url=http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/02/020227071151.htm | title=Proliferation Of Argentine Ants In California Linked To Decline In Coastal Horned Lizards | date=Mar. 5, 2002 | publisher=Science Daily] In Texas, it is the Argentine ant and the Brazilian fire ant. Both species are highly aggressive and fiercely territorial, and prey on harvester ant queens, destroying the horned lizard's principal source of food!!

In culture

Some Native American peoples regarded horned lizards as sacred. The animal is a common motif in the art of many Native Americans in the Southwestern U.S. (namely, Navajo) and in Mexico. In the Clint Eastwood film "The Outlaw Josey Wales", the character played by Chief Dan George decides to go to Mexico based on signs given him by a horned toad.

The horned lizard is the state reptile of both Texas and Wyoming, and as the "horned frog," is the mascot of Texas Christian University (TCU).

The horned toad is also the mascot of Coalinga High School in Coalinga, California. The town also holds an annual "Horned Toad Derby".

Species and subspecies

* Giant Horned Lizard, "Phrynosoma asio" (Cope, 1864)
* Short-tailed Horned Lizard, "Phrynosoma braconnieri" (Duméril, 1870)
* Cedros Island Horned Lizard, "Phrynosoma cerroense" (Stejneger, 1893)
* Texas Horned Lizard, "Phrynosoma cornutum" (Harlan, 1825)
* Coast Horned Lizard, "Phrynosoma coronatum" :* Cape Horned Lizard, "Phrynosoma coronatum coronatum" (Blainville, 1835):* San Diego Horned Lizard, "Phrynosoma coronatum blainvillii" (Gray, 1839):* California Horned Lizard, "Phrynosoma coronatum frontale" (Van Denburgh, 1894):* Central Peninsular Horned Lizard, "Phrynosoma coronatum jamesi" (Schmidt, 1922):* Northern Peninsular Horned Lizard, "Phrynosoma coronatum schmidti" (Barbour, 1921)
* Rock Horned Lizard, "Phrynosoma ditmarsi" (Stejneger, 1906)
* Short-horned Lizard, "Phrynosoma douglassii":* "Phrynosoma douglassi brachycercum" (Smith, 1942):* "Phrynosoma douglasii douglasii" (Bell, 1828)
* Mountain Short-horned Lizard, "Phrynosoma hernandesi" (Girard, 1858)
* Flat-tail Horned Lizard, "Phrynosoma mcallii" (Hallowell, 1852)
* Roundtail Horned Lizard, "Phrynosoma modestum" (Girard, 1852)
* Mexican Plateau Horned Lizard, "Phrynosoma orbiculare" :* "Phrynosoma orbiculare boucardii" (Duméril & Bocourt, 1870):* "Phrynosoma orbiculare bradti" (Horowitz, 1955):* "Phrynosoma orbiculare orbiculare" (Linnaeus, 1789):* "Phrynosoma orbiculare orinetale" (Horowitz, 1955):* "Phrynosoma orbiculare cortezii" (Duméril & Bocourt, 1870):* "Phrynosoma orbiculare dugesii" (Duméril & Bocourt, 1870)
* Desert Horned Lizard, "Phrynosoma platyrhinos":* Southern Desert Horned Lizard, "Phrynosoma platyrhinos calidiarum" (Cope, 1896):* Northern Desert Horned Lizard, "Phrynosoma platyrhinos platyrhinos" (Girard, 1852):* Sonoran Horned Lizard, "Phrynosoma platyrhinos goodei" (Stejneger, 1893)
* Regal Horned Lizard, "Phrynosoma solare" (Gray, 1845)
* Mexican Horned Lizard, "Phrynosoma taurus" (Dugés, 1873)
* Gulf Coast Horned Lizard, "Phrynosoma wigginsi" (Montanucci, 2004)

Notes

External links

* [http://www.digimorph.org/resources/horned.phtml Horned lizard skulls and info at Digimorph.org]
* [http://www.hornedlizards.org/ Horned Lizard Conservation Society]
* [http://www.phrynosoma.org/ Phrynosoma.Org: HL Species, Husbandry, and Conservation Info]
* [http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~varanus/phryno.html Horned Lizards]
* [http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/newsrel/science/mclizard.htm Argentine ants linked to declines in coastal horned lizards]
* [http://www.admissions.tcu.edu/funstuff/horned_frog.asp Texas Christian University mascot: What's a Horned Frog?]
* [http://depts.washington.edu/natmap/projects/waterville/ Horny Toads - Field study of Short-horned Lizards by students of Waterville Elementary School]


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Horned lizard — Horned Horned, a. Furnished with a horn or horns; furnished with a hornlike process or appendage; as, horned cattle; having some part shaped like a horn. [1913 Webster] The horned moon with one bright star Within the nether tip. Coleridge. [1913… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • horned lizard — noun insectivorous lizard with hornlike spines on the head and spiny scales on the body; of western North America • Syn: ↑horned toad, ↑horny frog • Hypernyms: ↑iguanid, ↑iguanid lizard • Hyponyms: ↑Texas horned lizard, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • horned lizard — horned′ liz′ard n. ram a flat bodied iguanid lizard of the genus Phrynosoma, of W North America, having hornlike spines on the head. Also called horned′ toad′ • Etymology: 1805–15, amer …   From formal English to slang

  • horned lizard — noun Any of some 14 species of lizard in the genus Phrynosoma, generally with wide toad shaped bodies less than a foot long, noted for the horny structures on their heads. Syn: horned toad, horny toad, horned frog …   Wiktionary

  • horned lizard — an insectivorous iguanid lizard of the genus Phrynosoma, of western North America, having hornlike spines on the head and a flattened body covered with spiny scales. Also called horned toad. [1805 15, Amer.] * * * …   Universalium

  • horned lizard — noun Date: 1806 horned toad …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Short-horned Lizard — Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia Phylum …   Wikipedia

  • Texas horned lizard — Taxobox name = Texas horned lizard image width = 240px regnum = Animalia phylum = Chordata classis = Sauropsida ordo = Squamata subordo = Iguania familia = Phrynosomatidae genus = Phrynosoma species = P. cornutum binomial = Phrynosoma cornutum… …   Wikipedia

  • Desert horned lizard — Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia Phylum …   Wikipedia

  • Rock horned lizard — Conservation status Data Deficient (IUCN 3.1) Scientific classification …   Wikipedia


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