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Side-blotched lizard        Images © Mark A. Chappell

Side-blotched lizards (Uta stansburiana) are small, attractive animals found throughout much of the western US.   As their name implies, they have a dark spot (barely visible here) in the 'armpit' behind the front legs.   Side-blotched lizards are slightly sexually dimorphic, and males (which are somewhat larger and more colorful than females) apparently occur in several genetically-determined color morphs (primarily of throat color: blue, orange, yellow) that show different levels of territorial behavior and aggression.   In some places, the frequencies of the different male morphs cycle from year to year.   I took this picture in the Box Springs Mountains near Riverside, CA, using a big telephoto lens to avoid alarming the animal (which at some point in its career had lost its tail-tip).

  • digital capture, Canon 10D, 500 mm f4 IS lens + 2X converter and extension tube, fill-in flash (2004)