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Kimberley Rock Monitor  (Glauert’s Monitor)
This long-necked monitor lizard is commonly known as the Kimberley Rock Monitor, and has the scientific name of Varanus glauerti (Varanidae).
Varanus glauerti is a medium-sized monitor (up to 80 cm in length) which occupies rocky habitats, being both terrestrial or arboreal. Males and pairs often share the same tree, and even the same branch stub, with no evidence of agonistic behavior outside the breeding season. They are active foragers.  
This species is distributed from western Kimberley in Western Australia, to the northwestern tip of the Northern Territory (Australia).
References: [1] - [2]
Photo: ©Henry Cook
Locality: Kimberley, Western Australia

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Kimberley Rock Monitor  (Glauert’s Monitor)

This long-necked monitor lizard is commonly known as the Kimberley Rock Monitor, and has the scientific name of Varanus glauerti (Varanidae).

Varanus glauerti is a medium-sized monitor (up to 80 cm in length) which occupies rocky habitats, being both terrestrial or arboreal. Males and pairs often share the same tree, and even the same branch stub, with no evidence of agonistic behavior outside the breeding season. They are active foragers.  

This species is distributed from western Kimberley in Western Australia, to the northwestern tip of the Northern Territory (Australia).

References: [1] - [2]

Photo: ©Henry Cook

Locality: Kimberley, Western Australia

TSA Turtle Tuesday:  The Arrau or Giant River Turtle
The giant South American river turtle (Podocnemis expansa) is the largest river turtle in South America, with males reaching nearly 200 pounds! 
The large, aquatic species has a wide distribution and can be found in Brazil, Colombia, Bolivia and Peru. Known to be strong swimmers due to their size and powerful limbs, they are able to traverse deep rivers with strong currents. Their broad, dome-shaped shell allows them to be streamlined and move efficiently through the Amazon and Orinoco Rivers where they are found. 
 Photograph by Camila Ferrara
(via: Turtle Survival Alliance)

TSA Turtle Tuesday:  The Arrau or Giant River Turtle

The giant South American river turtle (Podocnemis expansa) is the largest river turtle in South America, with males reaching nearly 200 pounds!

The large, aquatic species has a wide distribution and can be found in Brazil, Colombia, Bolivia and Peru. Known to be strong swimmers due to their size and powerful limbs, they are able to traverse deep rivers with strong currents. Their broad, dome-shaped shell allows them to be streamlined and move efficiently through the Amazon and Orinoco Rivers where they are found. 

Photograph by Camila Ferrara

(via: Turtle Survival Alliance)

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Natal Midlands Dwarf Chameleon (male)
This is Bradypodion thamnobates (Chamaeleonidae), commonly known as the Natal Midlands Dwarf Chameleon. 
Bradypodion thamnobates reaches up to 17cm in total length. It has a casque well-defined and rounded at the back. The gular crest is formed by large, overlapping dermal lobes covered in small scales and numerous throat grooves in the gular pouch. The dorsal crest is formed by large conical scales extending onto the tail. The limbs and tail exhibit numerous enlarged tubercles with a couple present on the flanks.
This species is endemic to the Natal Midlands, in particular Nottingham Road, South Africa, and is regarded as a Near Threatened species on the IUCN Red List.
References: [1] - [2]
Photo: ©Tyrone Ping
Locality: Nottingham Road, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa

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Natal Midlands Dwarf Chameleon (male)

This is Bradypodion thamnobates (Chamaeleonidae), commonly known as the Natal Midlands Dwarf Chameleon.

Bradypodion thamnobates reaches up to 17cm in total length. It has a casque well-defined and rounded at the back. The gular crest is formed by large, overlapping dermal lobes covered in small scales and numerous throat grooves in the gular pouch. The dorsal crest is formed by large conical scales extending onto the tail. The limbs and tail exhibit numerous enlarged tubercles with a couple present on the flanks.

This species is endemic to the Natal Midlands, in particular Nottingham Road, South Africa, and is regarded as a Near Threatened species on the IUCN Red List.

References: [1] - [2]

Photo: ©Tyrone Ping

Locality: Nottingham Road, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa

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Sri Lankan Pipe Snake  (Ceylonese Cylinder Snake, Two Headed Snake, Depath naya)
As some other species in the genus Cylindrophis, this rare snake, Cylindrophis maculata (Cylindrophiidae), endemic to Sri Lanka, is distinctive by its small head not distinct from neck, covered with large symmetrical shields, its cylindrical body, and because the tail is short and blunt.
The body oh this snake is shiny and iridescent; dorsally it is dull brick red or orange with black network enclosing 35-55 pairs of spots. The head and the tail are black; and the neck region has a white ring around it. The ventral area is cream, white or light pink with black bars or may have variegated pattern.
The Sri Lankan Pipe Snake is a burrowing, nocturnal snake. They do not tend to bite and are very lazy, non aggressive and non venomous. When threatened they flatten their bodies and curl the tail forward with the head concealed under the body, resembling a snake with two heads (as seen in the photo).
 References: [1] - [2] - [3] - [4]
Photo: ©Chaminda Jayaratne
Locality: Kalutara, Western, Sri Lanka

Heh heh heh heh…

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Sri Lankan Pipe Snake  (Ceylonese Cylinder Snake, Two Headed Snake, Depath naya)

As some other species in the genus Cylindrophis, this rare snake, Cylindrophis maculata (Cylindrophiidae), endemic to Sri Lanka, is distinctive by its small head not distinct from neck, covered with large symmetrical shields, its cylindrical body, and because the tail is short and blunt.

The body oh this snake is shiny and iridescent; dorsally it is dull brick red or orange with black network enclosing 35-55 pairs of spots. The head and the tail are black; and the neck region has a white ring around it. The ventral area is cream, white or light pink with black bars or may have variegated pattern.

The Sri Lankan Pipe Snake is a burrowing, nocturnal snake. They do not tend to bite and are very lazy, non aggressive and non venomous. When threatened they flatten their bodies and curl the tail forward with the head concealed under the body, resembling a snake with two heads (as seen in the photo).

 References: [1] - [2] - [3] - [4]

Photo: ©Chaminda Jayaratne

Locality: Kalutara, Western, Sri Lanka

Heh heh heh heh…

cool-critters

cool-critters:

Mata mata (Chelus fimbriata)

The Mata mata is a freshwater turtle found in South America, primarily in the Amazon and Orinoco basins. It is strictly an aquatic species but it prefers standing in shallow water where its snout can reach the surface to breathe. The appearance of the mata mata’s shell resembles a piece of bark, and its head resembles fallen leaves. The mata mata is carnivorous, feeding exclusively upon aquatic invertebrates and fish, which it has to swallow whole, since it cannot chew due to the way its mouth is constructed.

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Regal Ringneck Snake 
The Regal Ringneck Snake, scientifically named Diadophis punctatus regalis (Colubridae), endemic to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, is one of the largest subspecies of Ringneck Snake (up to 87cm in length).
This mildly venomous subspecies (not considered dangerous to humans), is characterized by having light gray, olive-gray, or olive dorsal coloring, with a yellowish or light orange underside that is lightly speckled with black markings. The underside of the tail is a bright reddish orange. An orange band around the neck, sometimes faint or absent. 
Reference: [1]
Photo credit: ©Sam Murray
Locality: Santa Cruz County, Arizona, US

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Regal Ringneck Snake 

The Regal Ringneck Snake, scientifically named Diadophis punctatus regalis (Colubridae), endemic to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, is one of the largest subspecies of Ringneck Snake (up to 87cm in length).

This mildly venomous subspecies (not considered dangerous to humans), is characterized by having light gray, olive-gray, or olive dorsal coloring, with a yellowish or light orange underside that is lightly speckled with black markings. The underside of the tail is a bright reddish orange. An orange band around the neck, sometimes faint or absent. 

Reference: [1]

Photo credit: ©Sam Murray

Locality: Santa Cruz County, Arizona, US

palaeopedia
palaeopedia:

The japanese Gharial, Toyotamaphimeia (1965)
Phylum : ChordataClass : ReptiliaSuperorder : CrocodylomorphaOrder : CrocodilaSubfamily : TomistominaeGenus : ToyotamaphimeiaSpecies : T. machikanensis
Pleistocene
8 m long (size)
Japan (map)
Toyotamaphimeia is an extinct genus of tomistomine, a crocodylian from the Pleistocene era of Japanese prehistory. It is closely related to the false gharial, and lived 400,000 years ago. This relationship is reflected in its original description as a member of the same genus, Tomistoma. It was a fairly large crocodylian with a 1 m skull and a total length up to 8 m.

palaeopedia:

The japanese Gharial, Toyotamaphimeia (1965)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Reptilia
Superorder : Crocodylomorpha
Order : Crocodila
Subfamily : Tomistominae
Genus : Toyotamaphimeia
Species : T. machikanensis

  • Pleistocene
  • 8 m long (size)
  • Japan (map)

Toyotamaphimeia is an extinct genus of tomistomine, a crocodylian from the Pleistocene era of Japanese prehistory. It is closely related to the false gharial, and lived 400,000 years ago. This relationship is reflected in its original description as a member of the same genus, Tomistoma. It was a fairly large crocodylian with a 1 m skull and a total length up to 8 m.

palaeopedia
palaeopedia:

The Utatsu lizard, Utatsusaurus (1978)
Phylum : ChordataClass : ReptiliaSuperorder : IcthyopterygiaFamily : UtatsusauridaeGenus : UtatsusaurusSpecies : U. hataii
Early Triassic (245 - 250 Ma)
3 m long and 200 kg (size)
Miyagi prefecture, Japan (map)
Utatsusaurus is what paleontologists call a “basal” ichthyosaur : the earliest of its kind yet discovered, dating to the early Triassic period, it lacked later ichthyosaur features such as long flippers, a flexible tail, and a dorsal fin. This marine reptile also possessed an unusually flat skull with small teeth, which, combined with its small flippers, implies that it didn’t pose much of a threat to the larger fish or marine organisms of its day. (By the way, if the name Utatsusaurus sounds strange, that’s because this ichthyosaur was named after the region in Japan where one of its fossils was unearthed.)

palaeopedia:

The Utatsu lizard, Utatsusaurus (1978)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Reptilia
Superorder : Icthyopterygia
Family : Utatsusauridae
Genus : Utatsusaurus
Species : U. hataii

  • Early Triassic (245 - 250 Ma)
  • 3 m long and 200 kg (size)
  • Miyagi prefecture, Japan (map)

Utatsusaurus is what paleontologists call a “basal” ichthyosaur : the earliest of its kind yet discovered, dating to the early Triassic period, it lacked later ichthyosaur features such as long flippers, a flexible tail, and a dorsal fin. This marine reptile also possessed an unusually flat skull with small teeth, which, combined with its small flippers, implies that it didn’t pose much of a threat to the larger fish or marine organisms of its day. (By the way, if the name Utatsusaurus sounds strange, that’s because this ichthyosaur was named after the region in Japan where one of its fossils was unearthed.)

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Black-headed Python 
The Black-headed Python, Aspidites melanocephalus (Pythonidae), is an Australian species of python with an average length of 155cm.
These distinctive pythons have a glossy jet black head that ends abruptly just behind the neck. The eyes are also black and the pupils are almost invisible. The body is light brown to dark caramel with dark cross bands along the entire body. The bands are darkest dorsally and fade towards the ventral scales. The belly is light cream speckled with darker spots.
Unlike other pythons, this one lacks heat sensing pits, probably due to a large percentage of their prey being cold blooded.
The scientific name comes from Aspidites, meaning ‘shield-bearer’, in reference to the large scales on the head; and melanocephalus, meaning ‘black head’.
References: [1] - [2]
Photo credit: ©Ryan Francis
Locality: Lena Creek, Mount Isa, Queensland, Australia

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Black-headed Python 

The Black-headed Python, Aspidites melanocephalus (Pythonidae), is an Australian species of python with an average length of 155cm.

These distinctive pythons have a glossy jet black head that ends abruptly just behind the neck. The eyes are also black and the pupils are almost invisible. The body is light brown to dark caramel with dark cross bands along the entire body. The bands are darkest dorsally and fade towards the ventral scales. The belly is light cream speckled with darker spots.

Unlike other pythons, this one lacks heat sensing pits, probably due to a large percentage of their prey being cold blooded.

The scientific name comes from Aspidites, meaning ‘shield-bearer’, in reference to the large scales on the head; and melanocephalus, meaning ‘black head’.

References: [1] - [2]

Photo credit: ©Ryan Francis

Locality: Lena Creek, Mount Isa, Queensland, Australia

Tragedy or Love Story? - A Tale of Two Gilas
by Melissa @ Social Snakes
Our friend Jeff Servoss works for USFWS and in his spare time, does outreach for snakes (how cool is that?). He shared this story on Facebook and graciously allowed us to reprint it here, along with his photos. Enjoy!

Yesterday turned out to be fairly interesting. I was on my way to Costco in the early evening, along a major neighborhood arterial, when I rolled-up on a guy emptying the “contents” of a five-gallon bucket at the side of the road. To me, it sure seemed like the guy was releasing animals so I naturally pulled over and inquired.
Sure enough, he was releasing two adult Gila monsters he found in his yard “entangled together.” I’m no expert at sex ID in Gilas (generally requires imaging technology for confirmation), but it appeared to be a mating pair. This guy lived at the edge of a wilderness boundary (Coronado National Forest) about a mile away, yet he decided it was best to release these two magnificent animals along a busy roadway with a retaining wall blocking one direction of movement (AKA – death sentence).
After a brief but cordial lecture, I informed him that the wilderness behind his house was a much better location to release the animals. He understood and was really cool about it…

(read more: Social Snakes)

Tragedy or Love Story? - A Tale of Two Gilas

by Melissa @ Social Snakes

Our friend Jeff Servoss works for USFWS and in his spare time, does outreach for snakes (how cool is that?). He shared this story on Facebook and graciously allowed us to reprint it here, along with his photos. Enjoy!

Yesterday turned out to be fairly interesting. I was on my way to Costco in the early evening, along a major neighborhood arterial, when I rolled-up on a guy emptying the “contents” of a five-gallon bucket at the side of the road. To me, it sure seemed like the guy was releasing animals so I naturally pulled over and inquired.

Sure enough, he was releasing two adult Gila monsters he found in his yard “entangled together.” I’m no expert at sex ID in Gilas (generally requires imaging technology for confirmation), but it appeared to be a mating pair. This guy lived at the edge of a wilderness boundary (Coronado National Forest) about a mile away, yet he decided it was best to release these two magnificent animals along a busy roadway with a retaining wall blocking one direction of movement (AKA – death sentence).

After a brief but cordial lecture, I informed him that the wilderness behind his house was a much better location to release the animals. He understood and was really cool about it…

(read more: Social Snakes)