Any monitors that are native to the Americas?

dragonblade71

Arachnobaron
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Jul 1, 2007
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As most reptile enthusiasts know, monitor lizards can be found in Australia, Asia, Africa and even the Middle East. Though are there any species that are native to the Americas? If there are none, I am intrigued as to why. After all, tarantulas can be found in all of those continents that I mentioned, including the Americas of course. I wonder if there are any fossilised remains of monitors found in the New World.....
 

Jmugleston

Arachnoprince
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As most reptile enthusiasts know, monitor lizards can be found in Australia, Asia, Africa and even the Middle East. Though are there any species that are native to the Americas? If there are none, I am intrigued as to why. After all, tarantulas can be found in all of those continents that I mentioned, including the Americas of course. I wonder if there are any fossilised remains of monitors found in the New World.....
The closest thing you'll find is the family Helodermatidae (Gila monsters and beaded lizards). They're are not monitors, but they are generally grouped with monitors as varanoids.

Continental drift, competition, barriers (uninhabitable environment prohibiting dispersal like deserts, rivers, mountains, oceans, etc.), and many other factors can influence the range of a species. Grab Varanoid lizards of the world edited by Pianka and King. The first few chapters of this book go over the fossil record and evolutionary history of this animal. If my memory serves me correctly, it also covers a bit of phylogeography as well.
 

dtknow

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Indeed.

Nichewise, a similar group might be some of the teiid lizards. The caiman lizard(Dracaena-not the plant ;) )and the various tegus(Tupinambis) are somwhat monitorlike. Most of the family are small insect eaters however(Cnemidophorus etc.).

I wonder why their are so few large lizards in North America. Argentina, Paraguay, etc. seem superficially similar to some temperate regions in NA yet no large native lizards(unless you consider the chuckwalla and the gila monster sufficiently large). Argentine tegus do quite fine outdoors in various parts of the
US-Nile monitors have become established in FL...interesting to speculate why most of our lizards stayed small.
 

Bigboy

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I wonder why their are so few large lizards in North America. Argentina, Paraguay, etc. seem superficially similar to some temperate regions in NA yet no large native lizards(unless you consider the chuckwalla and the gila monster sufficiently large).
I suspect our mammals, in particular, members of Rodentia and Mustelidae have a large part to play in this as well.
 
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