Meet Your (Distant) Neighbors – Galápagos Edition

 

 

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Eastern Galápagos Racer (Pseudalsophis biserialis) – Often overlooked, this enigmatic snake is difficult to observe in the eastern Galápagos archipelago, where it dwells in coastal, xeric (very dry) areas. For this reason, little is known about the natural history and conservation status of this seldom seen species.

 

 

 

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Marine Iguana (Amblyrhynchus cristatus) – This squamate represents the only oceanic lizard on the planet. Only large males readily forage on algae in the subtidal zone, while the smaller females and juveniles must forage in intertidal areas during low tide. During El Niño years, food availability is low and marine iguanas are able to compensate by shrinking in body length to increase foraging efficiency and improve survival likelihood.

 

 

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Galápagos Giant Tortoise (Chelonoidis spp.) – The Galápagos is home two delineations of giant tortoises based on carapace shape–the saddleback shape of the arid zones and the dome shape of the humid zones. Genetics has recently opened new doors in the conservation of these charismatic tortoises, with the initiation of several programs to bring several back from extinction through the careful breeding of known hybrids.

 

 

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Galápagos Sea Lion (Zalophus wollebaeki) – Upon maturation, this species becomes sexually dimorphic, with males developing enlarged sagittal crests that give them the characteristic bulge on their foreheads. During the breeding season, a male can spend months guarding the beach and their harem of females, often neglecting to eat.

 

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