; order Squamata, suborder Sauria)
A family of lizards that closely resemble iguanas (Iguanidae), but that have acrodont teeth. Scales are keeled and often spiny. Typically they have a large head, long limbs, and a long tail with no autotomy. Dorsal crests, throat sacs, and colour change are common. Moloch horridus (thorny devil) of the Australian desert, which feeds on ants and termites, has protective horns on the forehead formed from enlarged spines; and Uromastyx species (spiny-tailed lizards or dab lizards) of the Near and Middle Eastern deserts, in which the adults are herbivorous, defend themselves by lashing violently with their tails, which bear scales modified into rings of spines. Males of Calotes versicolor (bloodsucker or Indian variable lizard), a species of slender, agile, long-tailed, tree lizards found from Iran to southern China and Sumatra, change colour from brown to yellow and then to blood-red in rapid succession during courtship. The family includes bipedal and gliding forms (e.g. Draco volans (flying dragon or flying lizard) in which five or six posterior ribs are enlarged to support a gliding membrane allowing the lizard to ‘parachute’ from tree to tree). There are 300 species, all found in the Old World.
Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences.