Santa Fe Lizard Surprise
Santa Fe Island is one of the most recognized islands in the Galápagos for its high level of endemism, meaning that many species here live nowhere else on the planet. The star attraction of this endemic nature is the Santa Fe land iguana (Conolophus pallidus), but this is truly an island of surprises. The Santa Fe lava lizard (Microlophus barringtonensis), one of the 10 species of Galápagos lava lizards, is also one of the youngest species described by science. For many years, it was considered a subspecies of the Isabela lizard. It was not until 2009 that DNA studies suggested elevating this lizard to the rank of a full species, and endemic to this island to boot. The lizard is commonly seen by visitors to Santa Fe. Near the beach, they can be seen on the trails, often in close, placid proximity of iguanas and sea lions.
Santa Fe lava lizards feed primarily on insects, often hiding under rocks or plants, but they nest on the beaches. Males are significantly larger than females though juvenile males can easily be confused with females. There are very few studies on the behaviour of this particular species but progress has been made in molecular research that once again makes us witnesses of evolution and speciation typical of Galápagos Islands.