Monitor lizard

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Monitor lizards

Monitor Lizard, Masai National Reserve, Kenya Africa]]
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Reptilia
Order:Squamata
Suborder:Sauria
Family:Varanidae
Genus:Varanus
Species

Many, see text.

Monitor lizards are the family Varanidae, a group of lizards which includes the largest living lizard, the Komodo Dragon. Varanidae contains only a single genus: Varanus.

In Australia monitor lizards are known as goannas (See main article).

Evolutionary Overview

Monitor lizards are considered to be the most highly developed lizards, possessing a rapid metabolism (for reptiles), several sensory adaptations that benefit the hunting of live prey, and a lower jaw that may be unhinged to facilitate eating large prey animals. The latter adaptation reveals the other relatives of the monitor lizards: snakes (Serpentes) are believed to have evolved from a sister group to the Varanidae.

Origin of Name

Monitor Lizard. Masai National Reserve, Kenya Africa. Image provided by Classroom Clipart (http://classroomclipart.com)
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Monitor Lizard. Masai National Reserve, Kenya Africa. Image provided by Classroom Clipart (http://classroomclipart.com)
It has been said that the name of monitor lizards is derived from a superstition that the creatures would give a warning about the presence of crocodiles. However, this explanation may be apocryphal. According to Wildwatch (http://www.wildwatch.com/resources/other/monitors.asp), the name actually resulted from a mishearing of the Arabic word oaran (lizard) as the German warnen (to warn), which was subsequently Latinized into monitor.
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