Desert Horned Lizard

Phrynosoma platyrhinos

Photo of Phrynosoma platyrhinos by Jim Blaugh

Photo contributed by Jim Blaugh taken in the Barry Goldwater Range n. of Ajo, Arizona, January 2009. It's very pale coloration is similar to the soil in this area.

The appearance of horned lizards is at once prehistoric yet supremely adapted to the hot, dry conditions of the desert. They feed largely on ants, but also other insects and possibly plant material. When mid day temperatures are too hot the lizards bury themselves in the sand or else enter open burrows produced by other Sonoran Desert inhabitants. Desert Horned Lizards are widely distributed in the western portions of the Sonoran Desert. Some authorities separate the northern and southern populations divided by the Gila River into separate subspecies or full species. Although the Gila River likely presents a complete barrier to the two populations today, repeated volcanic eruptions have repeatedly disrupted and moved this barrier over the past 40K years.

Phrynosomatidae -- North American Spiny Lizards Family

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Sonoran Desert Field Guide
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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2008