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RE: teenysaurus as a pet - marine iguana



> From: owner-DINOSAUR@usc.edu [mailto:owner-DINOSAUR@usc.edu] 
> On Behalf Of B tH
>
> Assuming you could even get your hands on one [shot multiple 
> times in the back by the Ecuadorian police, he drops the 
> lizard and falls into waves...], would the special diet 
> requirements etc., etc. of these critters preclude keeping 
> one as a pet?
> 
> I know for their comfort a very large, low(ish) marine 
> tank/terrarium would be necessary.

I would imagine many problems with keeping them. Their feeding range is
quite large; they feed in tough surf (although who knows: maybe they'd like
a less rough environment) and cool water. They live in great aggreagates, so
socially they might not like being split up.
 
> I think these guys are really neat!

I agree. They are my second favorite Galapagos reptile (land iguanas being
number one). I like the multicolored Espanola morph especially.

Also, they aren't so teeny... (Okay, compared to Mesozoic dinosaurs, yes!) A
few of the regional morphs are almost as big as the land iguanas, and even
the smaller regional morphs are still good sized as far as lizards go.

> Has anyone observed them at any zoo or aquarium - they don't 
> have them around here.  They might have them at the new 
> super-duper Atlanta aquarium but haven't had a chance to get 
> over there yet.

I've seen plenty (thousands) of them, but in the wild. I do not know if they
have been successfully kept in zoos: good question.

> How far back do they go in the fossil record?  Were there 
> ancestors or relatives of them during the Age of the 
> non-avian Dinosaurs?

Basically no fossil record of the Galapagos iguanas (land or marine). Recent
studies place these as sister taxa, with an ancestor closely related to the
living Enyaliosaurus quinquecarinatus (club-tailed iguana) and Ctenosaura
spp. (spinytailed iguanas) of Mesoamerica. Their common ancestor (based on
molecular divergence dates and such) places an ancestor well within the
Neogene Period between 10-20 Ma.

Their ancestors during the Mesozoic would be the common ancestor of all
iguanid and iguanian lizards.

> ----------------------------------------------
> As an aside, a buddy of mine has a pet chuckwalla - the thing 
> looks like it could easily chomp off a finger or two!   It 
> was eating some cactus-jam when I was over there.

I would think a land iguana (Conolophus) might make a better potential
captive (leaving aside the whole endangered species issue!!). They are
territorial, so they wouldn't mind living in one spot; their habitat
requirements are not too difficult; and they breed in capitivity. In fact,
they are kept in at least some zoos (I know that the Darwin Research station
in the Galapagos keeps a breeding population of several morphs in zoo
enclosures).


Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Email: tholtz@umd.edu   Phone: 301-405-4084
Office: Centreville 1216                        
Senior Lecturer, Vertebrate Paleontology
Dept. of Geology, University of Maryland
http://www.geol.umd.edu/~tholtz/
Fax: 301-314-9661               

Faculty Director, Earth, Life & Time Program, College Park Scholars
http://www.geol.umd.edu/~jmerck/eltsite/
Faculty Director, Science & Global Change Program, College Park Scholars
http://www.geol.umd.edu/sgc
Fax: 301-314-9843

Mailing Address:        Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
                        Department of Geology
                        Building 237, Room 1117
                        University of Maryland
                        College Park, MD 20742 USA