Critically Endangered Pink Iguana Spared by Galapagos Eruption

posted: 05/26/15
by: Danny Clemens

As the Galapagos Islands' Wolf Volcano began to erupt violently for the first time in 33 years, experts became increasingly concerned about the fate of the Galapagos pink land iguana (Conolophus marthae). The world's only population of the critically endangered iguana resides on the slopes of the erupting volcano.

Park officials have released a statement (original text in Spanish), announcing that the lava from the active volcano is flowing down the opposite flank of the volcano, away from the iguanas' habitat. While officials believe that the creatures "are not expected to be affected" by the eruption, they still plan to send in park rangers to monitor the species' well-being as soon as it is safe to do so.

C. marthae was first described by scientists in 2009. It is distinct from the Galapagos land iguana, and scientists note that it provides "the only evidence of ancient diversification along the Galapagos land iguana lineage".

Less than 200 adult iguanas are known to exist on the island, and a recent survey effort was unsuccessful in locating any juveniles. Experts believe that drought conditions atop the Wolf Volcano could cause reproductive difficulties amongst the population, as the adults are prone to laying infertile eggs.

Click here to learn more about Conolophus marthae


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