Any of about 4,450 species of reptiles constituting the suborder Sauria. They are most diverse and abundant in the tropics but are found from the Arctic Circle (one species) to southern Africa, South America, and Australia. Like snakes, lizards have scales, paired male copulatory organs, and a flexible skull. Typical lizards have a moderately cylindrical body, four well-developed legs (although some lizards are legless), a tail slightly longer than the head and body combined, and movable lower eyelids. They range in size from 1-in. (3-cm) geckos to the 10-ft (3-m) Komodo dragon, but most are about 12 in. (30 cm) long. Ornamentation includes crests on the head, back, or tail; spines; brightly coloured throat fans; and throat frills. Most species feed on insects and rodents, but some, such as the iguana, eat plants. See also Gila monster; horned toad.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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