Microlophus albemarlensis — Galápagos Lava Lizard
Six of the seven lava lizard species in the Galápagos live on a single island (if you discount the fact that the Floreana species also lives on a few tiny islets off of Floreana). Microlophus albemarlensis is the exception; this species inhabits four of the largest islands and another half-dozen small islands.
We first encountered M. albemarlensis on the small island of South Plaza, off the coast of Santa Cruz, where they competed for our attention with many large iguanas.
The general rule with lava lizards is that the males are larger and more strikingly patterned, and the females have bright red/orange on their heads. But there is a lot of variation in the details, even within the same species. Here are two adult males and one adult female from Santiago.
On Santa Fe a colony of lava lizards inhabited the inland side of the sandy beach. True to their name, they were mostly perched on hunks of lava that were sticking up through the loose sand.
We were on Baltra just long enough to get from the dock to a bus to the airport, but that was long enough to see my last Galápagos Lava Lizard.
- Jackson, M. H. 1993. Galápagos: A Natural History
- Swash, A., and Still, R. 2005. Birds, Mammals, and Reptiles of the Galápagos Islands: An Identification Guide, 2nd Edition