Fiji iguanas

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Fiji iguanas
Brachylophus vitiensis

Brachylophus vitiensis

Superordinate : Scale lizards (Lepidosauria)
Order : Scale reptiles (Squamata)
without rank: Toxicofera
without rank: Iguana (Iguania)
Family : Iguanas (Iguanidae)
Genre : Fiji iguanas
Scientific name
Cuvier , 1829
Short-crested iguana ( Brachylophus fasciatus )

Fiji lizards ( Brachylophus ) are a kind endemic on Fiji and Tonga living lizards . They are similar to the green iguana , but with a maximum length of one meter they remain significantly smaller. The combs on the neck, on the back and the tail and the throat dewlap are not as large and imposing as on their relative. The tail reaches three times the length of the head and trunk.

Fijian iguanas are little researched forest dwellers and feed on leaves. They lay three to six (usually four) eggs in self-dug caves. The young hatch, depending on the temperature after 150 to 200 days.

There are four recent types :

In the IUCN Red List , Brachylophus fasciatus is classified as “critically endangered” and Brachylophus vitiensis as “critically endangered”. Brachylophus bulabula is not yet considered as a separate species there.

In addition to the species living today, there were even larger forms, the bones of which were found during excavations of the late Lapita culture on the Tonga island of Lifuka . The animals may have been wiped out by the Polynesian settlers or through competition with imported domestic animals.


Distribution area

Since the closest relatives of the Fiji iguanas live about 8,000 kilometers away in South America, the question arises as to how they got to the South Sea islands of the states of Fiji and Tonga. According to earlier opinion, they should have reached their current habitat with driftwood from South America, comparable to the migration of other animal species to the Galapagos Islands. In contrast, the American researchers Brice P. Noonan and Jack W. Sites, Jr. propose that these iguanas or their last common ancestor have lived in this part of the world for a very long time. With the help of the molecular clock it can be seen that this common ancestor arrived in the area of ​​the islands 50 to 60 million years ago, at that time the later South Sea islands were still in contact with parts of Gondwana , i.e. the ancestor of the Fiji iguanas Hiked over land bridges and did not come across the sea. He also colonized other South Sea islands, but was exterminated by the people who immigrated there early.


  • Eric R. Pianka, Laurie J. Vitt: Lizards. Windows to the Evolution of Diversity. (= Organisms and Environments. Volume 5). University of California Press, Berkeley CA et al. 2003, ISBN 0-520-23401-4 .
  • Manfred Rogner : Lizards. Volume 1: geckos, pinnipeds, agamas, chameleons and iguanas. Ulmer, Stuttgart 1992, ISBN 3-8001-7248-8 .

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Robert N. Fisher, Jone Niukula, Dick Watling, Peter S. Harlow: A New Species of Iguana Brachylophus Cuvier 1829 (Sauria: Iguania: Iguanidae) from Gau Island, Fiji Islands. In: Zootaxa . Volume 4273, No. 3, 2017, pp. 407-422, doi: 10.11646 / zootaxa.4273.3.5 .
  2. Peter S. Harlow, Martin Fisher, Marika Tuiwawa, Pita N. Biciloa, Jorge M. Palmeirim, Charlene Mersai, Shivanjani Naidu, Alifereti Naikatini, Baravi Thaman, Jone Niukula, Erica Strand: The decline of the endemic Fijian crested iguana Brachylophus vitiensis in the Yasawa and Mamanuca archipelagos, western Fiji. In: Oryx. Volume 41, No. 1, 2007, pp. 44-50, doi: 10.1017 / S0030605307001639 .
  3. ^ Gregory K. Pregill, Tom Dye: Prehistoric Extinction of Giant Iguanas in Tonga. In: Copeia. Volume 1989, No. 2, 1989, pp. 505-508, doi: 10.2307 / 1445455 .
  4. Brice P. Noonan, Jack W. Sites Jr .: Tracing the Origins of Iguanid Lizards and Boine Snakes of the Pacific. In: The American Naturalist. Volume 175, No. 1, 2010, pp. 61-72, doi: 10.1086 / 648607 .
  5. Süddeutsche Zeitung v. January 14, 2010.

Web links

Commons : Fijian Guan ( Brachylophus )  - Collection of images, videos and audio files