John T. Willis

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizard

The Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizard (Uma inornata) is a very specific type of lizard living only in the sandy plains of the Coachella Valley, Riverside County, California. The head and body of this lizard is between 3 to 5 inches long, and its tail is about the same length. It weighs about 7 ounces. It ranges from sea level to approximate 1,600 feet high. The USA has listed this species as "endangered," although experts have not been able to number the individuals.

This creature is restricted to habitats with fine, windblown sand deposits in the sandy plains. It is perfectly at ease with the blowing sand and scorching heat in this region of California. Its namesake fringed toes allow it to run quickly over sand without sinking, while its jaw, protected eyelids, ears with elongated scales and specialized nostrils allowing it to breathe below the sand without inhaling sand particles are all adapted to keep sand out. Active during the day, the dune dweller simply burrows into the sand with its wedged-shaped nose for relief when the temperature rises to extremes. This is also an effective strategy for avoiding predators. But the sand-wise lizard cannot hide from habitat loss, which has been driven by development and the influx of exotic vegetation. Its precious sand is slipping away, and this lizard is in hazard.

God created this amazing creature. Its "tribe" is small, but important on earth, even if we human beings do not fully realize its place and function. Zoologists are striving to preserve and enhance this creature. I hope YOU will participate in keeping all God's species on earth. According to Genesis 1:28, this is our human responsibility, especially as Christians. I am thankful to know good Christian people who work in this area--at zoos, in universities, in research agencies, and the like.

What are YOUR experiences. If YOU are in the Coachella Valley in California, let us hear from you about this interesting, endangered lizard. And have a tremendous 2010.

John Willis


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