is an extinct
In biology and ecology, extinction is the end of an organism or of a group of organisms , normally a species. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the last individual of the species, although the capacity to breed and recover may have been lost before this point...
giant lizard species from the island of Tenerife
Tenerife is the largest and most populous island of the seven Canary Islands, it is also the most populated island of Spain, with a land area of 2,034.38 km² and 906,854 inhabitants, 43% of the total population of the Canary Islands. About five million tourists visit Tenerife each year, the...
of the Canary Islands
The Canary Islands , also known as the Canaries , is a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara. The Canaries are a Spanish autonomous community and an outermost region of the European Union...
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...
. This reptile lived before the arrival of humans. It was described by the German herpetologist
Herpetology is the branch of zoology concerned with the study of amphibians and reptiles...
Robert Mertens was a German herpetologist. The Robert Mertens' day gecko is a species named after him, and he also postulated Mertensian mimicry....
. It is believed that it grew to at least three feet long. Fossil
Fossils are the preserved remains or traces of animals , plants, and other organisms from the remote past...
s of this lizard have been found in volcanic caves, where they often appear with other animals, like Canariomys bravoi
(the Tenerife giant rat).
remains have been assigned to the taxa G. goliath
and G. maxima
, the former supposedly occurring on several islands, the latter only on Tenerife. It was eventually determined, however, that G. maxima
is a junior synonym of G. goliath
, and that the latter was very close to G. simonyi
; supposed goliath
specimens from El Hierro
El Hierro, nicknamed Isla del Meridiano , is the smallest and farthest south and west of the Canary Islands , in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa, with a population of 10,162 .- Name :The name El Hierro, although phonetically identical to the Spanish word for 'iron', is generally thought...
, La Gomera
La Gomera is one of Spain's Canary Islands, located in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa. In area, it is the second-smallest of the seven main islands of this group.- Political organization :...
, and La Palma
La Palma is the most north-westerly of the Canary Islands. La Palma has an area of 706 km2 making it the fifth largest of the seven main Canary Islands...
are probably just extremely large individuals of, respectively, G. simonyi
, G. bravoana
, and G. auaritae
(Barahona et al.
2000). Based on DNA sequence analysis of mummified remains, G. goliath
is a valid species that probably was restricted to Tenerife, and apparently was closer to G. intermedia
than to G. simonyi
(Maca-Meyer et al. 2003).