Morphological and performance modifications in the world's only marine lizard, the Galápagos marine iguana, Amblyrhynchus cristatus

Kate A. Berry, Juan Pablo Muñoz-Pérez, Cristina P. Vintimilla-Palacios, Christofer J. Clemente

Producción científica: Contribución a una revistaArtículorevisión exhaustiva


The Galápagos marine iguana (Amblyrhynchus cristatus), the world's only extant marine lizard, may have had one of the most unique and challenging transitions to aquatic life. Curiously, previous studies have identified relatively few physiological adaptations in the marine iguana; however, little is known about the extent of morphological specialization and performance trade-offs associated with the marine environment. By examining the morphology and locomotory performance of the marine iguana in comparison to their closely related mainland ancestors, the black spiny-tailed iguana (Ctenosaura similis) and green iguana (Iguana iguana), we found variation reflected specialization to ecological niches. However, variation was more pronounced among subspecies of marine iguana, suggesting that little morphological or performance modification is required for iguanids to successfully invade aquatic environments, thus raising the question why there are so few extant aquatic reptilian lineages. Our findings indicate that specialization for the marine environment likely resulted in a trade-off in sprint speed in a terrestrial environment, which may explain why other lizards have not undergone transitions to the marine environment. Additionally, we found that the magnitude of morphological and performance variation was more pronounced between subspecies of marine iguana than between iguanid species. This illustrates that the form-function relationship is more complex than previously thought and sheds light on the ecomorphological mysteries of the marine iguana.

Idioma originalInglés
Páginas (desde-hasta)68-80
Número de páginas13
PublicaciónBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
EstadoPublicada - 1 may. 2021
Publicado de forma externa


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