Meet, REX. A Descendent of Tyrannosaurus
Image credit: Wikipedia
I recently took a trip to Miami, Florida. There, at Jungle Island, I met a lizard named Rex. He is a Cuban Rock Iguana, and he looked just like the lizard in the above picture. Rex is a member of the Cyclura nubile species of lizards, which just happens to be one of the most endangered group of lizards on the planet.
Rex was so friendly and endearing. He sat quietly on my lap while I admired his leathery scales, thick tail and gorgeous eyes. This lizard does not make any sounds, but he is terribly impressive nonetheless. Below is a picture of me holding Rex. It was an unforgettable experience. He was very solid, bulky, but seemed very comfortable on my lap. His caretaker was totally devoted to him, and I could hear the concern in her voice when she spoke about the status of this impressive iguana.
Photo credit: Author’s own collection.
The Cuban Rock Iguana is endangered as a result of feral species introduced into its environment. Human encroachment also plays a major role in its decline. However, there are programs to breed and reintroduce the iguana into the wild, which are successful.
The spikes on their heads are soft, and then they become harder down toward their tail, which is used as a defensive weapon. The spikes can number over 100! Since he is the largest of the West Indian iguanas, I would suspect that he is not bothered much. J He can grow to a length of four to five feet, so his size is also a deterrent to potential predators.
Its closest relatives are the Bahamas Rock Iguana and the Grand Cayman Blue Iguana. The Cuban Rock Iguana lives on the island of Cuba and its surrounding islands. It is protected there, and around Guantanamo Bay, there are road signs alerting drivers to their presence. Any individual who kills or attempts to capture one is heavily fined.
Bahamas Rock Iguana – Photo credit: R. Graham Reynolds (http://arkive.org )
The Grand Cayman Blue Iguana
Colors of Cuban Rock Iguana range from dark gray to red in males and olive green with dark stripes in females. They are herbivorous; preferring fruits, leaves and flowers. However, they have been seen scavenging on dead animals.
Photo credit: http://Cubanrockiguana.com
This interesting lizard, like many other reptiles, has a third eye on the top of his head. It is called a parietal eye. Although it cannot see images, it can sense variations in light and movement. Parietal eyes are also found in frogs, lampreys and some fish. The spikes you can see on his jowls in the above picture are called tubercles.
You can learn more about the Cuban Rock Iguana at the links listed in Citations and References.
Thanks for visiting.
Jeanne E. Rogers, Author
The Sword of Demelza
Award Winning Middle Grade Fantasy, Where Endangered Animals Roam the Pages!
Citations and References: