Sunday, July 11, 2010

Creature Feature: Thorny Devil.

Today starts Lizard Week! Yes, after doing this guy, I had so many ideas for lizard entries that I figured, "hey, why not?"

Yesterday's little gecko was a warm-up. Now we're getting into the really weird lizards. Many of them, including this one, are in the surprisingly familiar iguana family Agamidae.

The Thorny Devil (also Thorny Lizard, Mountain Devil, or just Moloch- a Semitic term associated with pagan sacrifice, i.e. Satan) lives in the more arid areas of Australia. It spends much of its time strutting while looking for ants to eat. When water runs down its back, it gets redirected into its mouth by special grooves - great if you live in a place where rainfall is rare.

But who cares about that? LOOK AT THIS THING. Besides the two horns on its head that give its name, its body is covered in spines. A lot of nasty things live in Australia. I cannot think of one that would find this lizard appetizing.

They're tiny. They need all the spines they can get!

The horny bulbs on its neck also double as a fake head. If the Thorny Devil feels threatened, it will duck down its head, exposing its thorns to the world.

The Thorny Devil is often confused with another horned lizard - the kind native to the Americas. This sort of horny lizard has its own peculiarities, which should also be covered this week. (Note: For a while, I was confused about this, too!)

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