Saturday, September 06, 2014

MONITOR LIZARD SUB-FAMILY: Firing the Imagination

Nile Monitor
Called Goannas in Australia and Leguaans in Africa, Monitor Lizards (Varanidae) are well known to people. Living in urban areas, Monitor Lizards have a long history with the peoples of Africa, Asia, and Australia.   In fact, Ancient Egyptians call Them “Monitors”, since They warned people of the presence of Crocodiles.

Ranging from shy reclusive Goannas to nasty and aggressive Komodo Dragons, Monitor Lizards often fill the niche of predatory and scavenging Mammals. Active foragers, Monitor Lizards will swallow their prey whole. What distinguish this Family of Lizards are their well-developed limbs and forked tongues.

Extremely hardy, Monitor Lizards have aggressive temperaments, a powerful bite, and a lashing tail. At the slightest provocation, They lash out with their tails. Although their tails produce a stinging lash, Monitor Lizards do not lose their tails like other Lizards.
A crocodile monitor lizard
Crocodile Monitor (WhoZoo)
Monitor Lizards have inspired much of people’s mythology such as dragons, which often resemble these Lizards. Because of Monitor Lizards’ aggressive natures, peoples of Borneo put images of Them on their shields to strike dread in the hearts of their opponents. In Thailand during the full moon, some unfortunate people became “were-monitors” prowling about for victims. Ancient Egyptians excluded Monitor Lizards from their after life since They preyed on young Crocodiles, who represented the Egyptians’s beloved god, Sobek. Meanwhile in Australia, stories abound of industrious Goannas inventing bark canoes for traveling.

Monitor Lizards fire people’s imagination. Dragons are their big brothers. Believing Them to be poisonous, People have thought of Monitor Lizards as “were-lizards”. Australians tell stories of how Goannas learned to climb trees to make boats. Let Monitor Lizards feed your imagination. Just remember not to be anti-social and lash out.

Note: Alligator Lizards (Anguids) are close relatives of Monitor Lizards. Scientists think that Snakes are related to Monitor Lizards as well.

Conservation Note: Monitor Lizards are threatened and endangered in part of their range from the pet trade and leather trade. Komodo Dragons are protected in Indonesia.

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