Urosaurus microscutatus — Small-scaled Lizard
Once upon a time these lizards from extreme southern California were considered Urosaurus microscutatus . Later, U. microscutatus was lumped with U. nigricaudus, and these lizards were therefore considered the latter species. But now, due to the Ph.D. thesis of one Andrew David Gottscho, Urosaurus microscutatus is back! All hail Urosaurus microscutatus!
This small lizard was a brave little showoff, flashing his belly colors, doing pushups, waggling his tail, and chasing off all nearby lizards, including much larger banded rock lizards and granite spiny lizards. Stebbins mentions Borrego Palm Canyon as the northernmost tip of the range of this species.
I was back at the same beautiful desert canyon seven years later on a blisteringly hot day. It was so hot that there were very few reptiles out, just a handful of side-blotched lizards and whiptails. When I reached the highest point I was intending to reach, I sat down on a boulder in the shade to rest for awhile and kill some time before heading back down the canyon. (I wanted to kill some time to avoid disturbing a small herd of desert bighorn sheep that were browsing and drinking in the part of the canyon I had climbed up through earlier.)
While waiting, I caught sight of this little guy on a nearby boulder. I spent fifteen minutes watching it dash from one rock to another, gobbling up a number of tiny insects.
Maybe one of these years I'll see a Urosaurus microscutatus somewhere other than Borrego Palm Canyon. But maybe not.
Hey, this isn't Borrego Palm Canyon! Meling Ranch is a convenient place to stay if you're heading into Parque Nacional Sierra de San Pedro Mártir. It might actually be the only convenient place to stay. Fortunately, it's also a nice comfortable ranch/lodge, and has some easily viewable lizards. The prettier one here was hanging out on the outside wall of the big dining room, where Lorrie Smith and Matt Cage also photographed it.
One more Meling Ranch Urosaurus bade us farewell the next day from a parking lot bollard.
- Urosaurus nigricaudus account on The Reptile Database
- Andrew David Gottscho, 2015 (Ph.D. thesis) Lineage Diversification of Lizards (Phrynosomatidae) in Southwestern North America: Integrating Genomics and Geology
- Behler, J. L., King, F. W. 1979. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles & Amphibians
- Crother, B. I. (ed.) 2017. Scientific and Standard English Names of Amphibians and Reptiles of North America North of Mexico, with Comments Regarding Confidence in Our Understanding, Eighth Edition
- Grismer, L. L. 2002. Amphibians and Reptiles of Baja California Including its Pacific Islands and the Islands in the Sea of Cortés
- Lemm, J. M. 2006. Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of the San Diego Region
- McPeak, R. H. 2000. Amphibians and Reptiles of Baja California
- Rogner, M. 1997. Lizards
- Sanborn, S. R. 1994. The Lizard-Watching Guide
- Smith, H. M. 1995. Handbook of Lizards: Lizards of the United States and Canada
- Smith, H. M., Brodie, E. D. Jr. 1982. Reptiles of North America: A Guide to Field Identification
- Stebbins, R. C. 2003. Peterson Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians, Third Edition