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The Gila monster is the largest lizard in the United States (3), and one of only two species of venomous lizard in the world (4). It has a stocky body with a large head and a short, fat tail (5). The skin consists of many round, bony scales, a feature that was common amongst the dinosaurs but is unusual in today's reptiles (3).
The Guatemalan beaded lizard is endemic to the arid, desert region of the Motagua valley in southeastern Guatemala and is one of the most endangered animals in the world. This animal was first seen by scientists in 1984, formally described in 1988 and a decade later was thought to be extinct in the wild. In 2002 a few individuals were found and limited natural history and ecology studies obtained the first, sparse data on their lives in the wild but most of this creatures life history remains a mystery. What Happened?
The Guatemalan Beaded lizard, Heloderma horridum charlesbogerti Campbell & Vannini (1988), is an endemic subspecies with a very restricted distribution in the arid portions of the Motagua Valley in Guatemala. It belongs to the Helodermatidae, a unique family of lizards with venom glands. Their closest living relatives are the Varanids. The Guatemalan Beaded Lizard is critically in danger of extinction due to habitat destruction for subsistence farming, illegal collection of specimens for international and local collectors and extermination by local people based on long-held, but false, beliefs regarding the nature of its venom.
The Web's Most Complete Guide to Gila Monsters
This web site is dedicated to disseminating information about the Gila monster. This unique lizard is the source of superstitions, the subject of legends and the object of fables. Even the real facts about this misunderstood creature are nothing short of amazing. Explore these pages to open up the mysterious world of this secretive inhabitant of the Sonora Desert.
Gila Monsters belong to one of the two venomous lizard species of the world. The other poisonous lizard is the Mexican Beaded lizard. The Gila Monster is unique among other reptiles. It is large, heavy-bodied, possessing a massive head, and small eyes. One of the characteristic signs of the lizard's appearance is its short, swollen tail. The body is a spotted pattern of black, pink, orange, or yellow scales.
The Gila monster is a large, heavy- bodied lizard reaching a little over 1¼ feet in length. The head is large, with small, beady eyes; the tail is short and fat. The family name Helodermatidae means “warty skin,” referring to the beaded look of the dorsal scales, due to the presence of osteoderms (small bones) under the scales. The lizard is bright pink and black, usually in a reticulated pattern, but in a banded pattern in some populations.
Gila monsters are reclusive, cold-blooded, raw egg-loving lizards whose venomous bites can cause intense pain. Ah, but within that same mouthful of venom-laced saliva is a marvelously therapeutic protein – one which has already been synthesized and used in diabetic drug treatments. And, it’s one which University of Alabama researchers are analyzing in hopes it could later improve the digestive performance of humans compromised by intestinal cancer and/or surgery.
Digital Morphology, part of the National Science Foundation Digital Libraries Initiative, develops and serves unique 2D and 3D visualizations of the internal and external structure of living and extinct vertebrates, and a growing number of 'invertebrates'. The Digital Morphology library contains nearly a terabyte of imagery of natural history specimens that are important to education and central to ongoing cutting-edge research efforts. The Digital Morphology library site now serves imagery, optimized for Web delivery, for almost 300 specimens contributed by more than 80 collaborating researchers from the world's premiere natural history museums and universities.
Colorado State Researcher Analyzes Venom Of Gila Monster; Unusual Toxin Has Chemical That Might Control Blood Pressure
Friday, March 27, 1998
FORT COLLINS--A Colorado State University biochemist has analyzed the chemical structure of venom secreted by Gila monsters and Mexican beaded lizards, a discovery that sheds light on the world's only two poisonous lizards and that eventually may help control blood pressure in humans.
Anthony Tu, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and authority on snake venom, said the substance, called Horridum toxin after the Latin species name for the Mexican beaded lizard, shows two interesting characteristics. It is not a neurotoxin, as most snake, spider and insect venoms are, and it bears a close chemical resemblance to kallikrein, an enzyme in the human body that stimulates release of another substance, bradykinin, that lowers blood pressure in humans.