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Photo safari – black girdled lizard

This is the black girdled lizard (Cordylus niger), photographer at Cape Point, South Africa. Cape Point is not the southernmost point of the African continent, but it’s frequently regarded as such because it’s a damn sight more impressive than the actual southernmost point. These lizards are a common sight in the winding climb from the carpark to the viewing station and they often go unnoticed. When a place affords breathtaking scenic views of Atlantic Ocean, many people forget to look down.

I’m guessing that the black colour helps the lizard to absorb the sun’s heat more effectively. There appears to be some confusion among photographers as to whether this species is the Cape girdled lizard (Cordylus cordylus) or the black one (Cordylus niger) – I’m going with the latter.

There are at least 47 species of girdled lizards (belonging to the genus Cordylus), and most are characterised by the bony spiky scales that you can see here.

5 thoughts on “Photo safari – black girdled lizard

  1. Okay, I could google this question, but I’d rather leave it as a comment so your blog gets credit for comments!

    Why the “girdled” in the name?

    And these are very nice photos, Ed. I even clicked to look at the other place (the most southernmost point). I think either place would be a blast to visit! I appreciate you sharing your travels this way.

  2. Looks like a tiny alligator or a crocodile. Very strange indeed. I will look up the scale of these creatures, too. Since you do not describe tourists turning and running for it, I gather these guys are pretty small.
    And I too do not get girdled in the name. Off to Google.

  3. I think that “girdle” refers to the annuli of scales around the tail, base to tip.

    Just checked – according to Rose (“The Reptiles and Amphibians of Southern Africa”), this is the case. The arrangement of the caudal scales is especially obvious because they’re large, imbricate and conspicuous.

  4. Nice one. We had a lovely blue-headed tree-dwelling species on the east coast of South Africa.

    I must disgree with you about Cape Agulhas though. It has a wind-swept beauty of its own – uninhabited with lots of seals and great whites and a large number of wrecked boats. Quite different from the highly touristy Cape Point.

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