El Hierro Giant Lizard

El Hierro Giant Lizard

:Gallotia simonyi" redirects here. This page deals mostly with the extant subspecies "Gallotia simonyi machadoi". For the extinct nominate subspecies, see here."Taxobox
name = Hierro Giant Lizard

image_width = 240px
status = CR
status_system = iucn3.1
trend = stable
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Reptilia
ordo = Squamata
subordo = Sauria
familia = Lacertidae
subfamilia = Gallotiinae
genus = "Gallotia"
species = "G. simonyi"
binomial = "Gallotia simonyi"
binomial_authority = (Steindachner, 1889)
trinomial = "Gallotia simonyi machadoi"
trinomial_authority = López-Jurado, 1989
synonyms = see text

"Gallotia simonyi" is a species of lacertid (wall lizard) that can be found on the island of El Hierro, one of the Canary Islands. The species was once present throughout much of the island and on the small offshore Roque Chico de Salmor, but is now confined to a few small areas of cliff with sparse vegetation. It is currently restricted to the southern end of the Risco de Tibataje in la Fuga de Gorreta, located between Guinea and the so-called Paso del Pino (an area of about four hectares). The species was also successfully reintroduced to the Roque Chico de Salmor in 1999, and subsequent reintroductions have taken place at Julan and at la Dehesa.(Miras & Pérez-Mellado 2005b)

About two feet (0.6 m) long, the Hierro Giant Lizard is a thickset reptile with a broad head. Adults are dark grey to brown in colour, with two rows of pale orange patches running along its sides. Its belly is mostly brown, but has an orange to red colouration towards the middle. Older El Hierro Giant Lizards are mainly black with some grey. Males are larger than females.

The Hierro Giant Lizard is omnivorous. It eats plants - notably "verode" and "Lavandula abrotanoides" - as well as insects (ARKive 2006). Mating begins in May and the 5 to 13 eggs are laid from June until the end of August. Their eggs hatch after 61 days.


Two subspecies are recognised:
* Roque Chico de Salmor Giant Lizard, "Gallotia simonyi simonyi" - extinct (c.1930s)
* El Hierro Giant Lizard or Hierro Giant Lizard ( _es. Lagarto Gigante de El Hierro), "Gallotia simonyi machadoi"

Previously, "Gallotia simonyi" included the La Palma Giant Lizard and the La Gomera Giant Lizard as subspecies too (Miras 2005, Miras & Pérez-Mellado 2005a); the latter is known to be very closely related to the extant population (Maca-Meyer "et al." 2003) and its specific distinctness is not universally accepted (e.g. Bischoff 2000). Subfossil remains from El Hierro that were assigned to the prehistorically extinct "Gallotia goliath" apparently belong to the present species (Barahona "et al." 2000), but the population referred to "G. goliath" from Tenerife was distinct (Maca-Meyer "et al." 2003).

tatus and conservation

The nominate subspecies "Gallotia simonyi simonyi" was only known from the Roque Chico de Salmor, a small islet off northwestern Valverde municipality. It disappeared around the 1930s through unsustainable collecting of animals for scientific institutions and commercial interests, as well as predation by feral cats and possibly Herring Gulls (Diaz & Bischoff 1994, Miras & Pérez-Mellado 2005b). Following this population's disappearance, the species was believed to be entirely extinct.

In 1974, the German amateur herpetologist Werner Bings discovered a surviving population of this species on El Hierros mainland (Böhme & Bings 1975). This was subsequently determined to be a distinct subspecies, 100 years after the species was first described (López-Jurado 1989).

The population of this species is about 300 to 400 animals in the wild (including re-introduced populations), and it is classified as Critically Endangered by the 2006 IUCN Red List. This giant lizard's major threat is predation by feral cats, and possibly also by dogs and rats.

A recovery plan for the Hierro Giant Lizard has been developed and the United Nations and the Canary Islands Autonomous Government funded a program for the captive breeding and re-introduction of the Hierro giant lizard to its original natural habitat, including the Roque Chico de Salmor. Control of feral cats has been stopped in 2002, but according to the IUCN continued control of feral cats should be resumed to allow population recovery.

The Hierro Giant Lizard is protected by national and international legislation. It is listed on Annex IV of the European Union's Habitats Directive (EC 2003) and on Appendix I of CITES.


* ARKive (2006): [http://www.arkive.org/species/GES/reptiles/Gallotia_simonyi/ Hierro giant lizard ("Gallotia simonyi")] . Downloaded on 18 May 2006.

* Barahona, F.; Evans, S. E.; Mateo, J.A.; García-Márquez, M. & López-Jurado, L.F. (2000): Endemism, gigantism and extinction in island lizards: the genus "Gallotia" on the Canary Islands. "J. Zool." 250(3): 373-388. doi|10.1017/S0952836900003101 (HTML abstract)

* Bischoff, Wolfgang (2000): DGHT-AG Lacertiden aktuell: [http://www.dght.de/ag/lacertiden/lacertiden1.htm Rieseneidechsen auf La Gomera] . Version of 2000-MAY-23. Retrieved 2007-FEB-25.

* Böhme, W. & Bings, Werner (1975): Zur Frage des Überlebens von "Lacerta s. simonyi" Steindachner. "Salamandra" 11(1): 39-46. [Article in German]

* Diaz, Carlos Naeslund & Bischoff, Wolfgang (1994): Studien am Roque Chico de Salmor bei El Hierro (Kanaren): 1. Mögliche Ursachen für das Aussterben von "Gallotia simonyi", 2. Die Artzugehörigkeit seiner Geckos ("Tarentola"). "Salamandra" 30(4): 246-253. [Article in German] [http://www.dghtserver.de/salamandra/artikelanzeige.php?nr=3028 HTML abstract]

* European Commission (EC) (2003): " [http://www.internationalwildlifelaw.org/EUCouncilDirective92.html Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora] ". Annex IV - Animal and plant species of community interest in need of strict protection. Treaty of Accession 2003. [http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/nature_conservation/eu_enlargement/2004/habitats/annexiv_en.pdf PDF fulltext]

* European Environment Agency (2006a): [http://eunis.eea.europa.eu/ European Nature Information System (EUNIS)] : [http://eunis.eea.europa.eu/species-factsheet.jsp?idSpecies=687&idSpeciesLink=687 Species Factsheet: "Gallotia simonyi"] . Downloaded on 24 Feb 2007.

* European Environment Agency (2006b): [http://eunis.eea.europa.eu/ European Nature Information System (EUNIS)] : [http://eunis.eea.europa.eu/species-factsheet.jsp?idSpecies=15492&idSpeciesLink=15492 Species Factsheet: "Gallotia simonyi machadoi"] . Downloaded on 24 Feb 2007.

* López-Jurado, L.F. (1989): A new Canarian lizard subspecies from Hierro island (Canarian Archipelago). "Bonner Zoologische Beiträge" 40: 265-272.

* Maas, Peter H.J. (2006): [http://extinct.petermaas.nl The Extinction Website] : Extinctions in Europe. Downloaded on 18 May 2006.

* Maca-Meyer, N.; Carranza, S.; Rando, J.C.; Arnold, E.N. & Cabrera, V.M. (2003): Status and relationships of the extinct giant Canary Island lizard "Gallotia goliath" (Reptilia: Lacertidae), assessed using ancient mtDNA from its mummified remains. "Biol. J. Linn. Soc." 80(4): 659–670. DOI|10.1111/j.1095-8312.2003.00265.x (HTML abstract)

* Database entry includes a range map and a brief justification of why this species is listed as extinct

* Database entry includes a range map and justification for why this species is critically endangered

* Database entry includes a range map and justification for why this species is critically endangered

External links

* lacerta.de: [http://www.lacerta.de/Seiten_Bildarchiv/Gallotia_simonyi_machadoi_1_(Bilder).htm "Gallotia simonyi machadoi"] image gallery. Retrieved 2007-FEB-25.

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