Australian dragons look like, and are just as tough as their namesake, as they live their lives, trying to adapt to the planets human population explosion.
Australia has at least 70 known dragon lizard species, which cover most of our continent. They laze beside ornamental ponds in the big cities, cling to the trunk of rainforest trees, rest among rocks on stony plains and sit on termite mounds in the hot dry centre of Australia, as well as surviving the snowy alps of Tasmania and the mainland.
Australian dragon the Thorny devil
They are easy to tell from other Australian lizards because they have rough scales, sometimes with spines, strong legs, five toes on each foot, large slightly rounded heads, with distinct necks, a fleshy tongue that is not forked, and they are active during the day.
They forage for food like small lizards, mice, insects, flowers, fruit and other plants in the daytime.
The amazing Frilled Lizard
The closest relatives of dragon lizards are the chameleons (Chamaeleonidae). Together the chameleons and dragons form a group known as Acrodont lizards, which refers to their unique teeth. Most lizards have teeth set individually in sockets in the jawbone (pleurodont teeth). In the dragons and chameleons, however, the teeth are fused directly to the jawbone without any sockets (acrodont teeth). Other similarities between chameleons and dragon lizards include intricate ornamentation, horns and elaborate crests.
Using DNA sequencing, Museum Victoria researchers have also found a number of new species of Australian dragons and these are now in the process of being described by the researchers.
(source: Victorian Museum)
The Australian water dragon is so common in the Brisbane Botanic Gardens, Mount Coot-tha in Queensland that a monument has been built to them there.