Galapagos Marine Iguana

A pair of Marine Iguanas cooling off

The Marine Iguana has an interesting evolutionary tale. Many researchers think that the Galapagos Land Iguanas and the Marine Iguanas evolved from the same ancestor. The Galapagos Islands is the only place on earth where the Marine Iguana is found.

This pair of Marine Iguanas were resting in a pool of seawater in an attempt to regulate their body temperatures. They didn’t move during the several minutes that our group observed them.

Note the spines along their backs. Also of note is the white substance that can be seen on their heads. That is salt discharged via a small hole in the head. This species has a special gland that removes excess salt from the blood, which is then discharged with an action similar to a sneeze.

This species has some similarities to its land counterpart, but the differences are obvious. Marine Iguanas are much less brilliantly colored, allowing them to blend with their surroundings better. Their heads and teeth have evolved to make them efficient at scraping algae from submerged rocks. Their claws are sharp, giving them the ability to hold themselves in place on rocks against the current while feeding on the algae.

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