Mountain horned agama (Ceratophora stoddarti)

loading
Mountain horned agama, close-up
loading
Loading more images and videos...

Mountain horned agama fact file

Mountain horned agama description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassReptilia
OrderSquamata
FamilyAgamidae
GenusCeratophora (1)

The mountain horned agama is one of five Ceratophora species endemic to Sri Lanka, commonly known as ‘horn-nosed lizards’ or ‘horned lizards’ for the elongated projections the males have at the tip of their snout (2). Even the Latin name Ceratophora means ‘horn-bearer’, referring to this unusual ornamentation (3). The shape of the ‘horn’ differs with the species; the mountain horned agama possesses a long, sharp, upward-pointing white ‘horn’ composed of a single conical scale, for which it is often called the ‘rhino-horned lizard’ (2). Males have a white chin and throat, while the rest of the body is a mixture of black, brown, rusty-orange to yellow and olive-green, with conspicuous black rings around the tail. Females, by contrast, are mostly dark brown, and possess a shortened brown ‘horn’ (4) (5).

Also known as
Ceylon horn-nosed lizard, horn-nosed lizard, rhino-horned lizard.
Top

Mountain horned agama biology

Few studies of the mountain horned agama have taken place and little is therefore known of its biology, although more general information on agamids as a family does exist. Agamids are diurnal and visually-orientated, with their crests and other ornamentation thought to serve as important signals in establishing and maintaining territories or in courtship (6). Most agamids feed on insects and other small animals, although a few also feed on plant matter as adults (7). Like the vast majority of agamids, the mountain horned agama is oviparous, or egg-laying (6).

Top

Mountain horned agama range

Confined to the mountain tops of Horton Plains, Hakgala, Namunukula, Galaha, Pidurutalagala and Peak Wilderness towards the south of Sri Lanka’s central massif (1) (2).

Top

Mountain horned agama habitat

Found in the tropical moist montane cloud forests of Sri Lanka’s ‘wet zone’ (more than 2,000 mm of rainfall per year), between 1,200 and 2,200 m above sea level (1) (2).

Top

Mountain horned agama status

Classified as Endangered (EN) using the IUCN (2001) Red List criteria (1), but not yet officially listed on the IUCN Red List.

Top

Mountain horned agama threats

The principle threats to the mountain horned agama are habitat fragmentation and loss, rainwater acidification, pesticides and the effects of climate change. Only five percent of the country’s original wet zone tropical moist forest now survives, heavily fragmented, as a result of clearance for cinchona, coffee, tea and rubber plantations, for grazing livestock, by logging companies, illegal logging and removal of timber by peripheral villagers. With a rapidly growing human population and increasing demand for agricultural land, the destruction of Sri Lanka’s montane forests continues at an alarming rate. Surrounding vegetable cultivations and tea plantations often lack clearly demarcated boundaries, leading to significant encroachment into the forest. Isolation of lizard populations prevents both important genetic flow between subpopulations and means of escape from forest fires. Further more, there is intensive use of pesticides on vegetable cultivations and tea plantations in Sri Lanka, which could be having a serious polluting affect. Although the impact these chemicals are having on non-target species is not yet known, studies elsewhere indicate that they could potentially be devastating, with possibilities for bioaccumulation. There is also evidence in the tropical moist montane forests of Horton Plains of large-scale forest die-back, thought to be the result of acid rain, and these forests are considered particularly at risk from climate change, especially global warming (1).

Top

Mountain horned agama conservation

With 11 out of Sri Lanka’s 17 agamid species being threatened with extinction, in what is the most heavily populated of the world’s 25 Biodiversity Hotspots, this group of lizards and their diminishing forest habitat are clearly in need of serious conservation attention. It is vital that threatened species restricted to small forest fragments, such as the mountain horned agama, be continuously monitored to assess population trends and, if necessary, the establishment of captive-breeding programmes could play an important role in ensuring their future survival (1).

Top

Find out more

For more information on the mountain horned agama and other threatened agamids of Sri Lanka see:

Top

Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk
Top

Glossary

Bioaccumulation
The process by which the concentrations of some toxic chemicals gradually increase in living organisms as they breathe contaminated air, drink contaminated water, or eat contaminated food.
Diurnal
Active during the day.
Endemic
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Top

References

  1. Bahir, M. and Surasinghe, T. (2005) A conservation assessment of the Sri Lankan agamidae (Reptilia: Sauria). The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, 12: 407 - 412. Available at:
    http://rmbr.nus.edu.sg/rbz/biblio/s12/s12rbz407-412.pdf
  2. SriLankaReptile.com (November, 2006)
    http://www.pdn.ac.lk/socs/zaup/reptiles/agamidae.html
  3. American Museum of Natural History (November, 2006)
    http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/lizards/sight/frilled.php
  4. Schulte, J.A., Macey, J.R., Pethiyagoda, R. and Larson, A. (2002) Rostral Horn Evolution among Agamid Lizards of the Genus Ceratophora Endemic to Sri Lanka. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 22(1): 111 - 117. Available at:
    http://www.biology.wustl.edu/~lososlab/schulte/schultecv/Schetal02MPE.pdf
  5. Surasinghe, T.D. (2006) Pers. comm.
  6. Animal Diversity Web (November, 2006)
    http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Agamidae.html
  7. Laboratory for Functional Morphology (November, 2006)
    http://webhost.ua.ac.be/funmorph/anthony/lizards/Agamidae.html
X
Close

Image credit

Mountain horned agama, close-up  
Mountain horned agama, close-up

© Ruchira Somaweera

Ruchira Somaweera
http://www.pdn.ac.lk/socs/zaup/reptiles/

X
Close

Link to this photo

ARKive species - Mountain horned agama (Ceratophora stoddarti) Embed this ARKive thumbnail link ("portlet") by copying and pasting the code below.

Terms of Use - The displayed portlet may be used as a link from your website to ARKive's online content for private, scientific, conservation or educational purposes only. It may NOT be used within Apps.

Read more about

X
Close

MyARKive

MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.

Play the Team WILD game:

Team WILD, an elite squadron of science superheroes, needs your help! Your mission: protect and conserve the planet’s species and habitats from destruction.

Conservation in Action

Which species are on the road to recovery? Find out now »

This species is featured in:

This species is featured in ARKive’s Indian Ocean island profile.

This species is featured in:

This species is affected by global climate change. To learn about climate change and the species that are affected, visit our climate change pages.

Help us share the wonders of the natural world. Donate today!

Blog RSS