Also known as Black Spiny-tailed Lizard or Black Iguana, the Black Ctenosaur (pronounced “tina-sore”) is a large diurnal lizard of Central America. This lizard is distinguished from Green Iguanas by its gray or tan color with 4-12 dark dorsal bands. It has a crest of long comb-like spikes extending from the back of its head down its spine, and distinct keeled scales on its tail. In fact, the name “ctenosaur” is Greek for “comb lizard.” Juvenile black iguanas are green and darken with age. Adult males grow to be 1.5 meters in length and can weigh up to 2 kg. Black Ctenosaurs live in rocky areas with trees to climb, crevices to hide in and open areas to bask. They are great climbers and retreat to shady trees in between basking periods, and dig burrows for shade and to avoid predation. They are primarily herbivorous; they eat flowers, leaves, stems and fruits, but occasionally eggs and small animals. Males are territorial and defend their perches, burrows and rocks by head bobbing and inflating their throat pouch to ward off intruding males; they also do this very same behavior to attract females! Black Ctenosaurs can be found in humid lowlands from Mexico south to central Panama, and occasionally are seen basking on sunny afternoons and feeding on fallen fruits near the Canopy Tower.
Speed Demons: Ctenosaura similis holds the record as the world’s fastest lizard, and has been recorded at 34.9 km/h (21.7 mph), equivalent to that of a world-class sprinter!