RESEARCH: Why does the Giant Tortoise live for a century or more?

Why does the Giant Tortoise have a long life span? 

Why does the Giant Tortoise, particularly the Galapagos Island Giant Tortoise, a land tortoise, live for a century – a 100 years – or more? 

An individual Pinta Island Giant Tortoise (Chelonoidis abingdonii), called Lonesome George, died in 2012, at the age of 100 or more. Scientists used his body for research to determine why he lived so long.

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Common House Gecko

The Common House Gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus) is a non-venomous lizard. It is a reptile. It is also known as Pacific House Gecko, Asian House Gecko, House Lizard, and Moon Lizard.

The Common House Gecko is light to medium brown with a pinkish tinge. Its skin is covered with small nodules. Its feet have five toes with toe pads to help them stick to surfaces, even upside down. It has large orange-brown eyes. 

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Oscillated Skink

The Oscillated Skink (Chalcides ocellatus) is a lizard – and a reptile. It is also known as the Eyed Skink or the Gongilo.

The Oscillated Skink is elongated with a small head. Each foot has five toes. It is varied in colour, but it is usually light brown with dark-brown and white markings. It has a creamy-white underbelly. It has dark eyes and a dark-coloured tongue. It has very short legs, with five toes on each foot.

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Zygodactylous Feet – Chameleon Feet

The Chameleon has zygodactylous feet. Zygo means paired, joined, or fused, and dactyl means digit (finger or toe). Scientists would like a more appropriate word, because the chameleon does not have true zygodactylous feet, like the parrot.

It has five toes on each foot. The toes are grouped into two fascicles (a bundle of structures).

Two or three toes in each fascicle are fused together, which makes its feet look like tongs (the tongs people use in the kitchen to pick up food).

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Chameleon

The Chameleon (family Chamaeleonidae) is a lizard – and a reptile.

The Chameleon can be a variety of colours, and many can change colour to match its environment – this is called camouflage. It is usually green, brown, olive-green, or grey-brown. It is elongated, usually with a raised or slightly-domed back, and a tail that can curl around plants. It often has a crest of spines along its back, and a fleshy lump at the back of its head. It has zygodactylous (fused) feet for climbing trees. It has a long tongue, and independently mobile eyes with stereoscopic vision.

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Northern Caiman Lizard

The Northern Caiman Lizard (Dracaena guianensis) is a semi-aquatic freshwater reptile. It is also known as the Guyana Caiman Lizard. It is related to the Tegu.

The Northern Caiman Lizard has a heavy bright green body with short legs. It has dark bands on its body. Its head is large and usually red or orange. Its jaws are muscular and powerful. It has a long tail. It has a clear third eyelid, which is like a pair of goggles when it swims underwater.  It has five toes, and its fourth toe is longer than its other toes.

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False Water Cobra

The False Water Cobra (Hydrodynastes gigas) is a venomous colubrid snake. It is not related to the cobra, but it can flatten its neck to make it look larger, just as a cobra does. It does not rear up like a cobra. It is also known as the Brazilian Smooth Snake.

The False Water Cobra is olive-green or brown with dark spots and bands.  It has large eyes with circular pupils. Its colour becomes darker towards its tail. It has good vision. It has rear fangs. Its tongue is black.

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European Glass Lizard

The European Glass Lizard (Ophisaurus apodus) is a reptile. It is also called the Sheltopusik and the Giant Russian Legless Lizard.

The European Glass Lizard is legless – it has no legs, but it is not a snake. Actually, there are two knobs (2mm in length that are undeveloped legs. It has eyelids (and snakes do not have eyelids). It is brown to olive-green in colour. It has a long tail that can grow back (regenerate) if it falls off.

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Monocled Cobra

The Monocled Cobra (Naja kaouthia) is a venomous snake, and a reptile. It has an O-shaped monocellate hood pattern, which is different from the spectacled pattern of the Indian Cobra.

The Monocled Cobra may be brown, yellow, grey, blackish, or albino, with or without banded markings. It becomes paler as it ages. It has a black spot on each side of its hooded head. It has a pair of fixed anterior (front) fangs.

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Taylor’s Cantil Snake

The Taylor’s Cantil (Agkistrodon tylori) is a venomous snake and a reptile. It is related to a pit viper. It is also known as the Ornate Cantil.

The Taylor’s Cantil has a thick dark-brown to black body with white, orange, or yellow bands. It also has white stripes with orange or yellow along both sides of its head and mouth. Its head is triangular. It has long, hinged fangs.

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Changeable Lizard

The Changeable Lizard (Calotes versicolor) is an agamid reptile. It is in the family of Agama Lizards. It is also known as the Oriental Garden Lizard and the Eastern Garden Lizard.

The Changeable Lizard ranges in colour from light-brown to greyish. It has a short crest above the neck with small spines, which continue to the tail. There are light-grey lines radiating from its eyes. Like chameleons, the Changeable Lizard can move its eyes in different directions.

Its fourth toe on the hind (back) leg is longer than the other toes. The male has swollen cheeks and, when it is mating season, its head turns bright orange and its throat turns black.

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Yellow-Headed Water Monitor Lizard

The Yellow-Headed Water Monitor (Varanus cumingi) is a large lizard, and a reptile. It is also known as the Philippine Water Monitor, the Mindanao Water Monitor, or the Cuming’s Water Monitor.

The Yellow-Headed Water Monitor is yellow with dark-brown or black markings. Its head is often all yellow with only a few markings. Its scales are six-sided hexagons. It has a large mouth, large nostrils, and dark orange-brown eyes. Its feet have five toes with sharp claws.

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Rio Fuerte Beaded Lizard

The Rio Fuerte Beaded Lizard (Heloderma horridum exasperatum) is a venomous reptile. It is also called the Mexican Beaded Lizard. It is related to the Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum).

The Rio Fuerte Beaded Lizard is blackish with yellowish bands. It has a stocky body with a broad head. Its scales are small and look like beads. It has a short tail. It has a pink, forked tongue. Unlike other lizards, if it loses its tail, it does not grow back.

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Dwarf Crocodile

The Dwarf Crocodile (Osteolaemus tetraspis) is a reptile. It is also known as the African Dwarf Crocodile, the Broad-Snouted Crocodile, or the Bony Crocodile.

The Dwarf Crocodile is dark on its back and sides. Its underbelly is yellowish with black patches. It is heavily armoured around its neck, back, and tail. The back of its neck has four large, shield-like scales. It has a blunt, short snout (nose).

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