Lizards of Ahs — Happy Lizard Day!

Lizard on a branch


Lizards are a large, diverse group of reptiles. Around 3800 species live on land and in sea, on every continent except Antarctica. They range in size from geckos and chameleons (as small as a few centimeters) to komodo dragons (nearly three meters). Their used to be mosasaurs, which reached 17 meters! They proved to be too large and dangerous for Noah and his crew and so, went extinct.

The “once” mighty mosasaur

Although lizards give a lot of people the willies, most pose no threat. Gila Monsters and Beaded Lizards are poisonous but not likely to kill you, just give you a lot of pain. Komodo Dragons, on the other hand, are nothing to mess with. They sometimes stalk and attack humans and as recently as 2007, one killed an Indonesian kid. Nonetheless, in 2001, Sharon Stone‘s idiot husband bribed a zookeeper to let him see one up close and ended up in the hospital as a result. She divorced him three years later.

Komodo Dragon
Please don’t feed the dragon — your toe

Numerous less dangerous species of lizard are kept as pets. Their owners often walk around with them on their shoulders and are the types to have weird goatees and other features designed to hammer home their eccentricity. Don’t be one of those people.

Skink the Bounty Hunter – only named after a lizard

Lizards play important roles among certain indigenous Australians, Moche and Indians. For some reason, in my home state of Missouri, there are several hillbilly legends about lizards that don’t really require Mythbusters to debunk. They say glass lizards re-attach their own tales, a skink’s tail is poisonous and can sting you, a lizard will bite you and not let go until it hears thunder and “mountain boomers” (the eastern collared lizard) make a call like a frog.

From North Africa to South Asia, the Uromastyx is prized for its supposedly tasty flesh and thought of as “the fish of the desert.” In Jalisco, Michoacán and Colima, tasty iguanas are being eaten into extinction. Still, I don’t imagine a veggie version is a high priority for the folks at Yves or Morningstar Farms.

Geico Gecko  Gecko Whiplash       

            The Geico Sleestack                           Gecko                                                  Whiplash

Anyway, this Lizard Day, why not forgo eating the guys and instead watch a lizard movie? Unlike other reptiles like dinosaurs, crocodilia, snakes, testudines, reptilian humanoidspelycosauria and pterosauria, lizards don’t seem to show up that often on the big screen.

I can only think of Giant Gila Monster (1959), Gamera vs. Barugon (1966), Gamera vs. Jiger (1970), Women of the Prehistoric Planet (1966), Iguana (1989), The Freshman (1990), Napoleon (1994), Komodo (1999), Curse of the Komodo (2004), KVC (2005) and Chinese Tall Story (2006).

The Giant Gila Monster  大怪獣決闘 ガメラ対バルゴン  ガメラ対大魔獣ジャイガ Gamera vs. Jiger

 Women of the Prehistoric Planet Iguana The Freshman poster

Napoleon poster Komodo  Curse of the Komodo

KVC Komodo vs Cobra   情癲大聖 A Chinese Tall Story


Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, writer, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities — or salaried work. He is not interested in writing advertorials, clickbait, listicles, or other 21st century variations of spam. Brightwell’s written work has appeared in AmoeblogdiaCRITICS, and KCET Departures. His work has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft & Folk Art MuseumForm Follows FunctionLos Angeles County StoreSkid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured in the Los Angeles TimesHuffington PostLos Angeles MagazineLAistEastsider LABoing BoingLos Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRW‘s Which Way, LA? and at Emerson College. Art prints of his maps are available from 1650 Gallery and on other products from Cal31. He is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

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