Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #51  
Old 03-07-2017, 06:36 PM
Chronos Chronos is online now
Charter Member
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 72,122
Quote:
Quoth Tom Tildrum:

What if it used its fire breath?
I don't know about fire, but I'd guess that a monitor lizard's halitosis would be bad enough to qualify as a breath weapon.

Now that we've established that the "lizards" aren't a proper clade, what about the fragile-tailed lizards (a category which I assume doesn't include the Komodo or Gila)? You know, the ones whose tails break off easily so they can escape predators (including glass snakes, hence the "glass" part of their name). Are they a clade?
Advertisements  
  #52  
Old 03-07-2017, 07:56 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
SD Curator of Critters
Moderator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Panama
Posts: 36,859
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Now that we've established that the "lizards" aren't a proper clade, what about the fragile-tailed lizards (a category which I assume doesn't include the Komodo or Gila)? You know, the ones whose tails break off easily so they can escape predators (including glass snakes, hence the "glass" part of their name). Are they a clade?
No. In fact, the propensity for tail loss varies even within a family. Caudal autotomy occurs commonly in the Gekkonidae (geckos), Anguids (which includes glass snakes/lizards), Teiidae (whiptails), Scincidae (skinks), and Iguanids (iguanas). It does not occur in Gila Monsters or monitors.
  #53  
Old 03-08-2017, 10:18 AM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Florida
Posts: 66,953
Quote:
Originally Posted by DtypeJag View Post
If we are talking about the world's largest living reptile I've heard that Leatherback sea turtles can be up to 1000lbs? But probably one of the Crockagators would be larger.
Saltwater crocodiles regularly exceed 2,000 lbs., and there are fairly convincing estimates of 4,000 lb. salties based on skull measurements.
  #54  
Old 03-10-2017, 04:48 PM
Irishman Irishman is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Houston, TX, USA
Posts: 12,178
Quote:
Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
If snakes are just legless lizards, there isn't too much justification for insisting that other kinds of legless lizards aren't snakes.
Except that all snakes are of the suborder Serpentes, and have characteristics besides being legless reptiles that are different than the other types of legless lizards, which fit into other suborders of Squamata. I suppose we could call them "serpents", as distinct from "snakes", and let any legless lizard be a snake.

Currently, lizards is a polyphyletic group but snakes is not.
  #55  
Old 03-11-2017, 09:46 AM
Chronos Chronos is online now
Charter Member
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 72,122
And you can't even define "snakes" as being "legless lizards", because some snakes aren't quite completely legless.
  #56  
Old 03-11-2017, 10:05 AM
Colibri Colibri is offline
SD Curator of Critters
Moderator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Panama
Posts: 36,859
Quote:
Originally Posted by Irishman View Post
Except that all snakes are of the suborder Serpentes, and have characteristics besides being legless reptiles that are different than the other types of legless lizards, which fit into other suborders of Squamata. I suppose we could call them "serpents", as distinct from "snakes", and let any legless lizard be a snake.
I've been talking about the popular use of the term, not the scientific one. This would be just more linguistic hair-splitting on the basis of cladistics of the type I've been criticizing. If you're discussing herpetology, fine, you can talk about Serpentes along with other clades of Squamata. The fact that Serpentes is a clade within Squamata doesn't require one not to call other legless lizards snakes.

Quote:
Currently, lizards is a polyphyletic group but snakes is not.
Right, but if you recognize snakes linguistically there would be justification to also recognize around 10 separate clades of lizards that would be of equivalent taxonomic rank.
  #57  
Old 03-11-2017, 10:09 AM
Colibri Colibri is offline
SD Curator of Critters
Moderator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Panama
Posts: 36,859
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
And you can't even define "snakes" as being "legless lizards", because some snakes aren't quite completely legless.
I would't consider that having some internal vestiges (and in some cases external spurs) qualify as having legs. But yes, that distinction is not as clear-cut as some other features of skeletal and other anatomy.
  #58  
Old 03-14-2017, 04:06 PM
MacLir MacLir is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 519
Quote:
Originally Posted by Darren Garrison View Post
Wait, they aren't commode dragons?

This will seriously change my bathroom habits.
A while back, Old Spice put out a series of deodorants named after exotic islands. Komodo was one of them. The commercial had their "manly black guy" spokesman riding two Komodo dragons like a trick rider.

It disappeared from the lineup before the rest, in spite of having what I thought was the best scent. I figure the reason was "Who names a deodorant after a place that sounds like 'commode'?"

Actually, my first thought was that some Marketing "genius" needed to remove their dorsal organ cluster from their aboral orifice and think for a change.
  #59  
Old 03-15-2017, 08:52 PM
Irishman Irishman is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Houston, TX, USA
Posts: 12,178
Quote:
Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
I've been talking about the popular use of the term, not the scientific one.
My point was that there are characteristics that set Serpentes apart from other "legless lizards". But you are correct that those characteristics are not as obvious as major structural changes like no legs.

I think I need to backtrack on this one. Science seems to be full of situations where they take a common word and apply it in a scientific manner as part of a system, and then the definition of the word has to adjust to fit the scientific application as the system gets modified to fit new information.

For example, the highly controversial discussion about how to define "planet". Or the excitement we all feel when we try to decide if birds are dinosaurs. Or do we categorize sharks and dolphins and whales as "fish".

I suppose in the same vein, we can differentiate between the scientific category of "serpents" and the common use of the word "snake".
  #60  
Old 03-15-2017, 09:07 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
SD Curator of Critters
Moderator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Panama
Posts: 36,859
Quote:
Originally Posted by Irishman View Post
I think I need to backtrack on this one. Science seems to be full of situations where they take a common word and apply it in a scientific manner as part of a system, and then the definition of the word has to adjust to fit the scientific application as the system gets modified to fit new information.
That's exactly the kind of thing I'm objecting to (and I'm a scientist). It's OK to have a popular definition of a word, and a more restrictive scientific one, but that doesn't make the original popular definition wrong. There's no reason to change the popular definition of a word just because scientists use it in a different way.

Quote:
I suppose in the same vein, we can differentiate between the scientific category of "serpents" and the common use of the word "snake".
But there's no reason to restrict the perfectly good English word serpents that way. Scientists can always just say they are talking about Serpentes when they want to talk abou that clade. Non-scientists can call any legless Squamata a snake, regardless of what clade it's in.

The terms "frog" and "toad" have no scientific meaning, nor do "turtles" and "tortoises" represent clades. They refer to appearance and way of life, not taxonomy. There's no reason snake and lizard shouldn't be used the same way.

Last edited by Colibri; 03-15-2017 at 09:09 PM.
  #61  
Old 03-16-2017, 05:49 AM
Teuton Teuton is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Plymouth, UK
Posts: 1,176
So, is there anything commonly known as a lizard that's bigger than the Komodo?

Last edited by Teuton; 03-16-2017 at 05:50 AM.
  #62  
Old 03-16-2017, 07:27 AM
Darren Garrison Darren Garrison is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
Posts: 4,273
Quote:
Originally Posted by Teuton View Post
So, is there anything commonly known as a lizard that's bigger than the Komodo?
Not any more, thanks to those pesky Australians.
  #63  
Old 03-16-2017, 08:27 AM
BMalion BMalion is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Posts: 9,704
Quote:
Originally Posted by Telemark View Post
Then there's my work on behalf of the International Komodo Dragon Foundation. To protect the Komodo dragon, the world's largest living lizard, a ferocious carnivore, found on the steep-sloped island of Komodo in the lesser Sunda chain of the Indonesian Archipelago and the nearby islands of Rinja, Padar, and Flores.
Are they of the lizard family?
  #64  
Old 03-16-2017, 09:25 AM
Colibri Colibri is offline
SD Curator of Critters
Moderator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Panama
Posts: 36,859
Quote:
Originally Posted by Teuton View Post
So, is there anything commonly known as a lizard that's bigger than the Komodo?
No.
  #65  
Old 03-16-2017, 10:40 AM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Florida
Posts: 66,953
It is a rather large island, after all.
  #66  
Old 03-16-2017, 04:54 PM
Irishman Irishman is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Houston, TX, USA
Posts: 12,178
Quote:
Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
That's exactly the kind of thing I'm objecting to (and I'm a scientist). It's OK to have a popular definition of a word, and a more restrictive scientific one, but that doesn't make the original popular definition wrong. There's no reason to change the popular definition of a word just because scientists use it in a different way.
Ah, I see what happened. When I said "has to adjust", it sounds like I'm arguing for changing the word use, but in fact I meant it the other way in agreement with you. Why do we have to change the common word definition to fit a scientific specificity?

Quote:
But there's no reason to restrict the perfectly good English word serpents that way. Scientists can always just say they are talking about Serpentes when they want to talk abou that clade. Non-scientists can call any legless Squamata a snake, regardless of what clade it's in.
You are right. I almost used Serpentes there, but then didn't inexplicably.


Quote:
Originally Posted by BMalion View Post
Are they of the lizard family?
Yes, Komodo dragons are of the monitor lizard family, Veranidae.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Sanchez
How big are Komodo Dragons?
Big enough to look at humans and think, "Yeah, I could eat that."
  #67  
Old 03-17-2017, 08:38 AM
BMalion BMalion is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Posts: 9,704
Quote:
Originally Posted by Telemark View Post
Then there's my work on behalf of the International Komodo Dragon Foundation. To protect the Komodo dragon, the world's largest living lizard, a ferocious carnivore, found on the steep-sloped island of Komodo in the lesser Sunda chain of the Indonesian Archipelago and the nearby islands of Rinja, Padar, and Flores.
Where are they from?
  #68  
Old 03-17-2017, 02:52 PM
Filbert Filbert is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 3,666
Quote:
Originally Posted by CairoCarol View Post
On Rinci (and probably Komodo too, but I don't know because we didn't go there), you can hike all around the island with a guide, and see lots of dragons pretty close up along the way. The guides carry big forked sticks just in case, but nothing untoward happened while we were there and I suspect that's the norm.
When I was there last year, the guides met the boat (all armed with forked sticks), walked us to the guide station/shop to pay the park permit fees, past about 6 big dragons lounging round outside. We then walked round a trail, saw a couple of baby dragons, then back to the shop, at which point all the guides buggered off, right in front of the big dragons, then they left us to walk back to the boat by ourselves, past several other large dragons

So yeah, I don't think Rinca's guides take the whole thing *quite* seriously.
  #69  
Old 03-19-2017, 09:25 AM
MrDibble MrDibble is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Cape Town, South Africa &
Posts: 21,210
Quote:
Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
Related question: why are large lizards so common in South and Southeast Asia and Australia? The largest lizards (Komodo dragon, water monitor, crocodile monitor and perentie) are all limited to those areas.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Riemann View Post
In Africa, I don't know. Perhaps large land-based reptiles would be too easy a target for the many large predators?
Africa has several large monitors. 2m+ is not too shabby. They're fairly common (I've seen both in the wild)

Last edited by MrDibble; 03-19-2017 at 09:26 AM.
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:47 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2017 Sun-Times Media, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017