The La Palma Giant lizard, found on the island of La Palma, was thought extinct until recent sightings and photographs of giant lizards on the northern part of the island were discovered.
The La Palma Giant lizard was previously only known from sub-fossils and it is believed that the species’ decline started 2,000 years ago with the arrival of humans on La Palma. Although this species was believed to have gone extinct within the last 500 years, recent sightings and photographs of giant Gallotia lizards from northern La Palma may disprove this theory. The identity of these lizards can only be verified through the capture of individuals, but it is likely there has only ever been one species of large Gallotia on La Palma.
The Gallotia lizards have been evolving on the Canary Islands since the first islands emerged from the sea over 20 million years ago. Several lineages have evolved insular gigantism whereby individuals of isolated populations have dramatically increased sizes in comparison to their mainland relatives due to a lack of predatation and competition.
The cause of population decline is likely to be due to introduced cats, consumption by people and also the conversion of land to agricultural use. Surveys are urgently needed in order to show if this species still survives.
- Order: Squamata
- Family: Lacertidae
- Population: Possibly extinct
- Trend: unknown
This species is found in La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain
Habitat and Ecology
This species lives through the littoral zone of La Palma, living in xerophytic vegetation (vegetation tha is adapted to survive in an environment with little water).